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Can foreign chefs save Japanese cuisine from extinction?

Keepers of time-honored culinary traditions seek help from afar

Traditional Japanese food goes beyond just sushi and tempura. (Photo by Takuya Imai)

TOKYO -- As younger Japanese abandon rice, miso soup and grilled fish in favor of such overseas fare as bread, curry and ramen, a relatively recent adoption from China, foreign chefs are increasingly seen as the unlikely saviors of the country's centuries-old culinary traditions.

First-year students at the Tokyo College of Sushi and Washoku -- what traditional Japanese food is called in Japan -- are engrossed in slicing daikon radish into a long, razor-thin ribbon. Their curriculum begins with exhaustive training in the foundations of Japanese cuisine, from making the perfect rolled omelet to filleting fish.

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