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“I think the food culture won’t progress until the next generation exceeds the current one,” says sushi chef Norihito Endo. “Having an absolute respect for my masters is important, but at the same time, I try to see them as milestones I can go beyond.”

Though his father was also a sushi chef, Chef Endo initially left Japan to go to college in the U.K. and train to be a professional footballer. By leaving his home country, Endo gained a fresh perspective of his own culture, and developed a deeper appreciation of Japanese food traditions from the outside. As a result, Endo returned to Japan and trained under chef Takashi Saito, known as one of the world’s best sushi chefs, of the three Michelin-starred restaurant Sushi Saito in Tokyo.

After his training, Endo went on to open his own restaurant, Ebisu Endo, which has become one of Japan’s best sushi restaurants after just one year. Now, he hopes to build on what he learned, putting his own spin on classics like eel, sea bream, tuna, and squid, while ushering in the next generation of Tokyo’s sushi masters.

“Learning history is important, but following in the exact footsteps of my predecessors is a waste of time, in my opinion,” says Endo. “We can find the answers to questions we have by looking back in history. We are standing where we are because of the path our predecessors made. Without knowing what people did before, we are bound to walk the same path.”

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