Travellers to Japan will know that dining out in Japan without Japanese language skills can be a real challenge. Although English is taught to most Japanese from a very young age, this doesn't necessarily translate to a population with excellent English language skills - or maybe they're just really coy about showing off their English. And of course when you're going for the authentic Japanese meal experience, I think it's safe to say most of us steer away from restaurants with the somewhat off-putting plastic toy depiction of menu items sitting in the front window.
At Tokyo's top sushi restaurants, it's typical to take the omakase course, where the chef decides the menu and explains what everything is as it is delivered to the table. In Japanese. To assist travellers who'd like to know with certainty what they're eating, Sushi University recently launched, which enables customers to dine at a sushi counter with a translator by their side. As the website states:
In SushiUniversity, we offer escort interpreting services so that you can not only tease taste buds, but you can gain deeper knowledge of the culture and history associated with sushi, seasonal sushi neta (topping), Sushi Chef’s relentless pursuit of sushi perfection and his bar’s tradition and you can ask questions you feel at that time. Have a memorable time with a feeling the Chef’s passion and dedication contained in each piece of sushi at this Sushi Bar.
Ok, so the English isn't perfect, but the concept is!