February 12th 2013 saw the opening of the UK’s first ever Japanese cooking school, known as SOZAI, near Liverpool St. The word “sozai” has two meanings in Japanese: “household dishes” and “raw ingredients”. Appropriate, as an essential element in Japanese cooking is the quality of the ingredients one uses, and also because this school aims to teach people to create, in their own homes, the delicious and exquisitely-presented dishes many have enjoyed for years in restaurants. Equally interesting is that the school will also teach how to use Japanese food preparation and cooking methods to incorporate non-traditional Japanese ingredients into new, adventurous and tasty fusions. The school will run classes of 90 to 120 minutes long, for anyone who’s ever wanted to make delights such as sushi or tempura, or if their tastes run to more urban dishes like ramen or okonomiyaki, a team of highly-acclaimed chefs will be their sensei, whose backgrounds range widely from traditional, classic Japanese elegance to energetic, cordon-blue-influenced innovation. It doesn’t end there. This school’s going to be interactive. If you’ve enjoyed a particular dish, you can suggest it as a subject for new classes by going to the SOZAI website and posting it, and then there’ll be a vote to see if it’s popular enough. So if you’ve always wanted to make Japanese food at home, but don’t have Japanese friends to teach you, there’s no longer any excuse: get yourself to SOZAI!