Tabimori, Inc. (headquarters: Itabashi-ku, Tokyo; president: Tetsuya Hanada) has launched an interpreting service “sushiuniversity” on August 30, 2016 to help tourists in Japan who do not speak Japanese, but wishes to enjoy traditional Edo-style sushi in the Tokyo area.
sushiuniversity is a service that allows tourists in Japan to visit sushi restaurants with greater ease and familiarity, as though going to their favorite neighborhood restaurant. Not only does sushiuniversity showcase various restaurants, but the fee includes shuttle service to and from the hotel, as well as interpreting service inside the restaurants, and “lectures” on the sushi ingredients and etiquette. Tourists can select from a range of plans depending on their budget.
The official site supports English, Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese, and eight other languages. The service is designed to meet the growing global demand for sushi. Going forward, additional languages such as Indonesian and Vietnamese are being planned for the service.
▼sushi university: http://sushiuniversity.jp/
■Origin of the sushiuniversity idea
In 2013, Japan attracted more than 10M international tourists. By 2020, this number is expected to reach 30M. In addition, the style of travel is changing — from group tours to individual travel, with tourists seeking a more personal experience. More and more travelers now actively seek authentic experiences, using online review sites to find lesser-known restaurants, booking tables directly at Michelin star restaurants, and more.
The more high-end the restaurant, the more menus are exclusively “omakase,” or left to the chef’s discretion. This means tourists do not know which food will appear, or when. While Japanese diners find this an exciting surprise, the guest from overseas may feel flustered, finding sushi delicious but the uncertainty of handing off all decisions to be a cause for concern. Even if they like the dishes, they struggle to enjoy the cuisine on the level that Japanese do, knowing about sushi culture and being able to communicate with the chef.
■Features of sushiuniversity
Special “omakase” (chef’s choice) menu sent in advance of visit in 12 languages
In order to allow tourists to feel as if they are visiting a familiar neighborhood restaurant, the omakase menu is translated in advance into twelve languages (English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Japanese).
Understanding the various ingredients ahead of time and using interpreting allows diners to relax and enjoy the sushi before them in a natural and intuitive fashion, asking any questions they have as they arise. Even if tourists do not speak Japanese, interpreting allows them to get to know everything about sushi and enjoy it to the fullest.
Interpreting and shuttle service combined as various courses to meet tourists’ budget
sushiuniversity offers three courses: Basic (10,000 JPY/person), Intermediate (20,000 JPY/person), and Senior (30,000 JPY/person). These prices include the meal and the interpreting service.
If diners notify sushiuniversity in advance of dietary allergies or foods they want off the menu, this can be accommodated. In addition, the team selects restaurants located within thirty minutes by car from guests’ hotel and within the Tokyo area that meet their parameters.* On the day of the booking, a sushiuniversity interpreter meets guests at the lobby of their hotel. The group then travels together to the restaurant.
*Note that this is not an online booking system. After receiving a booking, sushiuniversity personnel confirms it by telephone and checks the availability of an interpreter. A booking confirmation is then sent by e-mail. Tourists pay for the service in cash, when they meet the interpreter on the day of the booking.
Mini “lectures” on ingredients, the shop’s style, and how to eat — ask about anything!
Lectures are not held table-side, but rather right at the counter with the chef. They are open to parties from 2-7 people. An interpreter conveys the chef’s chic and intriguing commentary on cuisine to the parties, live. Tourists enjoy an introduction to the way sushi ingredients are skillfully formed, traditional lore surrounding sushi, the shop’s philosophy and manners, and more. This lecture allows travelers to get an up-close experience with traditional Japanese culture and cuisine.
Unless the chef has planned a particular flow to the menu and there are special requirements to the way food is eaten, tourists are not required to abide by a specific format and can eat the meal in the order and style they see fit. Instead of a formal lecture format, the service creates a fun and inviting atmosphere.
Most luxury sushi shops forbid photography — with sushiuniversity, now you can!
Luxury sushi restaurants generally forbid photography, but sushiuniversity negotiates directly with them to allow tourists to take photos.
In this way, this service aims to go beyond cuisine and support tourists’ whole travel experience.
▼How sushi university works: http://sushiuniversity.jp/
Company name: Tabimori, Inc.
President: Tetsuya Hanada
Address: 1-26-15 Komone, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo 173-0037
Established: July 2012
Business summary: Tabimori, Inc.’s mission is supporting people’s enthusiasm to travel. The company provides novel and exciting travel information to people worldwide. Tabimori believes that if the linguistic barrier did not exist, the stress and worry associated with foreign travel could be eliminated. To that end, Tabimori provides travel information in a range of languages and offer various travel services to encourage people to make their travel dreams a reality.
[CONTACT TABIMORI ABOUT THIS NOTICE]
Representative: Tetsuya Hanada