Guest Post: A Brief Guide to Japanese Sushi

Let’s learn about sushi today!

Although present-day sushi most likely traces its origins to Southeast Asia or China, we’ll go over various types hailing from its most popular abode, Japan.

But I had no idea there were that may kinds of sushi…

Maki-zushi (巻き寿司)

Maki (巻き・まき) means “roll;” in this case, it consists consists of raw fish and other additional components.  Seaweed and rice are then wrapped around the ingredients, and the makizuhi is often eaten by hand. They are available in various sizes– the thick roll is known as futo-maki and the thin roll, hoso-maki.

Nigiri-zushi (握り寿司)

Nigiri-zushi, or Edomae zushi (named for 江戸・えど・Edo, the previous name for Tokyo) is one of the most common types. All that it entails is generally one topping on top of an oblong mound of rice.

Temaki-zushi (手巻き寿司)

It is similar to maki-zushi, except that it is in the shape of a cone.

Gunkan-maki (軍艦巻き)

Battleship (gunkan) sushi!  What?!

Yes, it’s similar to nigiri-zushi; however, the only difference is that it is wrapped in seaweed. For the gunkan-maki, salmon roe or sea urchin are a couple of the
typical options.

Oshi-zushi (押し寿司)

Also called pressed sushi, oshizushi is better known in Western Japan, particularly near Osaka. Expect to find more cured fish in this style of sushi, as well as molded layers of seaweed and shiso.

Chirashi-zushi (散らし寿司)

This one, on the other hand, is well-known as scattered sushi, which refers to the many pieces of various kinds of fish strewn about a square or round patch of rice. Unusual to the sushi family tree, you may also see fish cakes, vegetables, and even Pokémon when you order chirashi sushi.

Inari-zushi (稲荷・いなり寿司)

The outside is sweetened fried tofu, and the inside?  Tightly packed vinegary rice, and sometimes other treats.

Nare-zushi (熟れ鮨)

Narezushi is also known as fermented sushi since all the components are fermented. This is the precursor to contemporary sushi, whereas brine/lactic fermentation was used instead of vinegar.

How You Might Want to Enjoy Sushi

Soy sauce

If you’re not accustomed to eating sushi, you may find that soy sauce is a necessity.  Simply pour some soy sauce into the tiny round dish many sushiya (sushi restaurants) supply, and enjoy.  BuildingMyBento suggests that, if you’ve ordered/made nigiri, take the neta (ネタ), or the ingredient atop the rice, and dip that first.  That way, the rice won’t crumble before your eyes.


Also known as Japanese horseradish, it is used mostly for nigiri-zushi, sashimi and raw fish dishes. It is a green paste meant for enhancing the deliciousness of sushi; also, its microbial properties may help reduce the risk of food poisoning.


Sweetened pickled ginger. It has some antibacterial properties like wasabi, and is great for cleansing one’s palate.

After you have known of the foods which you can choose from, you can make a wise decision or know of the ones which you can keep off if you do not like them. Conducting research is always an added advantage since you do get to learn something new in the process; furthermore, you are no stranger to what is available, thus knowing your way around sushiya will work to your advantage…and maybe even impress your friends.

This entry was posted in East & Southeast Asia, Food & Drink, Guest Post, Japan and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


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