Up at street level, its entrance is marked only by a small sign and a diminutive doorway, but the restaurant Tsurutokame teems way down, underground, below Tokyo’s most fashionable district.

Descending several flights of stairs, the place opens up at the bottom. A line of chefs behind the sushi bar greets me—all of them female, an extreme rarity in Japan. As one, they yell out Irasshaimase!, a warm welcome, and then return to their work, carving up giant crab, slicing Bluefin tuna and plating a wide variety of creations, from the bizarre—to the beautiful.

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