Training for sushi chefs is traditionally long and hard. An apprentice spends much of his time with his hands in cold water, doing chores in the kitchen. An apprentice may start training as young as 15 years old and spend the first two years learning to make sushi rice, which in itself requires considerable skill. He will then move on to learning the art of preparing fish, and finally, he will actually make sushi.
Until recently, sushi masters were little interested in having students, perhaps because of the potential competition. Often, when the apprentice came to work, the sushi chef would just use him to carry fish home from the market and then as a delivery boy,so the apprentice was never in the bar when sushi was being prepared. A bright apprentice would soon realize what was going on and would have to insist that the sushi chef show him the wide range of skills he needed to acquire.
A trainee learns to be a sushi chef by carefully watching his master at work and then by repeatedly experimenting himself, Eventually when the apprentice has fully mastered the intricacies of sushi making, he may either work alongside his master or go into business and set up his own sushi bar.
A good sushi chef, in addition to having mastered the standard sushi repertoire, will also be a creative artist. He will be able to create an extensive range of decorative sushi and sashimi in fanciful forms, which may be served on special occasions or festivals. (The Complete Book of Sushi)