Sushi  is a food of Japanese origin consisting of cooked vinegared rice (shari) combined with other ingredients (neta). Neta and forms of sushi presentation vary, but the ingredient which all sushi have in common is shari. The most common neta is seafood.


The traditional form of sushi is fermented fish and rice, preserved with salt in a process that has been traced to 7th century China (Tang Dynasty) and even Southeast Asia, where it remains popular today.[1] The term sushi comes from an archaic grammatical form no longer used in other contexts; literally, "sushi" means "sour-tasting",[2] a reflection of its historic fermented roots.

The vinegar produced from fermenting rice breaks down the fish proteins into amino acids. This results in one of the five basic tastes, called umami in Japanese.[3] The oldest form of sushi in Japan, narezushi, still very closely resembles this process. In Japan, narezushi evolved into oshizushi and ultimately Edomae nigirizushi, which is what the world today knows as "sushi".

Contemporary Japanese sushi has little resemblance to the traditional lacto-fermented rice dish. Originally, when the fermented fish was taken out of the rice, only the fish was consumed and the fermented rice was discarded. The strong-tasting and smelling funazushi, a kind of narezushi made near Lake Biwa in Japan, resembles the traditional fermented dish. Beginning in the Muromachi period (AD 1336–1573) of Japan, vinegar was added to the mixture for better taste and preservation. The vinegar accentuated the rice's sourness and was known to increase its shelf life, allowing the fermentation process to be shortened and eventually abandoned. In the following centuries, sushi in Osaka evolved into oshi-zushi. The seafood and rice were pressed using wooden (usually bamboo) molds. By the mid 18th century, this form of sushi had reached Edo (contemporary Tokyo).

The contemporary version, internationally known as "sushi", was created by Hanaya Yohei  at the end of the Edo period in Edo. The sushi invented by Hanaya was an early form of fast food that was not fermented (therefore prepared quickly) and could be eaten with one's hands at a roadside or in a theatre. Originally, this sushi was known as Edomae zushi because it used freshly caught fish in the Edo-mae (Edo Bay or Tokyo Bay). Though the fish used in modern sushi no longer usually comes from Tokyo Bay, it is still formally known as Edomae nigirizushi.


The common ingredient across all the different kinds of sushi is sushi rice. The variety in sushi arises from the different fillings and toppings, condiments, and their preparation. The same ingredients may be assembled in a traditional or a contemporary way, creating a very different final result.[5] In spelling sushi its first letter s is replaced with z when a prefix is attached, as in nigirizushi, due to consonant mutation called rendaku in Japanese.

Chirashizushi is a bowl of sushi rice topped with a variety of sashimi and garnishes (also refers to barazushi). Edomae chirashizushi (Edo-style scattered sushi) is an uncooked ingredient that is arranged artfully on top of the sushi rice in a bowl. Gomokuzushi (Kansai-style sushi) are cooked or uncooked ingredients mixed in the body of rice in a bowl. There is no set formula for the ingredients and they are either chef's choice or sometimes specified by the customer. It is commonly eaten because it is filling, fast and easy to make. Chirashizushi often varies regionally. It is eaten annually on Hinamatsuri in March.

Inarizushi  is a pouch of fried tofu filled with usually just sushi rice. It is named after the Shinto god Inari, who is believed to have a fondness for fried tofu. The pouch is normally fashioned as deep-fried tofu . Regional variations include pouches made of a thin omelette . It should not be confused with inari maki, which is a roll filled with flavored fried tofu. A very large version, sweeter than normal and often containing bits of carrot, is popular in Hawaii, where it is called "cone sushi".

Makizushi is a cylindrical piece, formed with the help of a bamboo mat, called a makisu. Makizushi is generally wrapped in nori, but can occasionally be found wrapped in a thin omelette, soy paper, cucumber, or parsley. Makizushi is usually cut into six or eight pieces, which constitutes a single roll order. Below are some common types of makizushi, but many other kinds exist.

Futomaki is a large cylindrical piece, with nori on the outside. A typical futomaki is three or four centimeters (1.5 in) in diameter. They are often made with two or three fillings that are chosen for their complementary tastes and colors. During the Setsubun festival, it is traditional in Kansai to eat uncut futomaki in its cylindrical form, where it is particularly called ehou-maki. Futomaki is often vegetarian, but may include non-vegetarian toppings such as tiny fish roe and chopped tuna.

Hosomaki is a small cylindrical piece, with the nori on the outside. A typical hosomaki has a diameter of about two centimeters (0.75 in). They generally contain only one filling, often tuna, cucumber, kanpy┼Ź, thinly sliced carrots, or, more recently, avocado. Kappamaki, a kind of Hosomaki filled with cucumber, is named after the Japanese legendary water imp fond of cucumbers called the kappa. Traditionally, Kappamaki is consumed to clear the palate between eating raw fish and other kinds of food, so that the flavors of the fish are distinct from the tastes of other foods. Tekkamaki is a kind of Hosomaki filled with raw tuna. Although some[who?] believe that the name "Tekka", meaning 'red hot iron', alludes to the color of the tuna flesh or salmon flesh, it actually originated as a quick snack to eat in gambling dens called "Tekkaba, much like the sandwich. Negitoromaki is a kind of Hosomaki filled with scallion (negi) and chopped tuna (toro). Fatty tuna is often used in this style. Tsunamayomaki is a kind of Hosomaki filled with canned tuna tossed with mayonnaise.

Temaki  is a large cone-shaped piece of nori on the outside and the ingredients spilling out the wide end. A typical temaki is about ten centimeters (4 in) long, and is eaten with fingers because it is too awkward to pick it up with chopsticks. For optimal taste and texture, Temaki must be eaten quickly after being made because the nori cone soon absorbs moisture from the filling and loses its crispness and becomes somewhat difficult to bite.

Uramaki is a medium-sized cylindrical piece, with two or more fillings. Uramaki differs from other makimono because the rice is on the outside and the nori inside. The filling is in the center surrounded by nori, then a layer of rice, and an outer coating of some other ingredients such as roe or toasted sesame seeds. It can be made with different fillings such as tuna, crab meat, avocado, mayonnaise, cucumber, carrots. Uramaki has not been so popular in Japan and most of makimono is not uramaki because it is easy to hold makimono with nori skin by fingers. However, since some Western people dislike the black impression of makimono with nori skin, uramaki has become more popular in Western countries than nori-skinned makimono.

Narezushi is a traditional form of fermented sushi. Skinned and gutted fish are stuffed with salt, placed in a wooden barrel, doused with salt again, then weighed down with a heavy tsukemonoishi (pickling stone). As days pass, water seeps out and is removed. After six months this funazushi can be eaten, remaining edible for another six months or more.

Nigirizushi consists of an oblong mound of sushi rice that the chef presses into a small rectangular box between the palms of the hands, usually with a bit of wasabi, and a topping (the neta) draped over it. Neta are typically fish such as salmon, tuna or other seafood. Certain toppings are typically bound to the rice with a thin strip of nori, most commonly octopus (tako), freshwater eel (unagi), sea eel (anago), squid (ika), and sweet egg (tamago). When ordered separately, nigiri is generally served in pairs. A sushi set (a sampler dish) may contain only one piece of each topping.

Gunkanmaki is a special type of nigirizushi: an oval, hand-formed clump of sushi rice that has a strip of "nori" wrapped around its perimeter to form a vessel that is filled with some soft, loose or fine-chopped ingredient that requires the confinement of nori such as roe, natto, oysters, sea urchin, corn with mayonnaise, and quail eggs. Gunkan-maki was invented at the Ginza Kyubey restaurant in 1931; its invention significantly expanded the repertoire of soft toppings used in sushi.

Temarizushi is a ball-shaped sushi made by pressing rice and fish into a ball-shaped form by hand using a plastic wrap. They are quite easy to make and thus a good starting point for beginners.

Oshizushi also known as hako-zushi is a pressed sushi from the Kansai Region, a favourite and specialty of Osaka. A block-shaped piece formed using a wooden mold, called an oshibako. The chef lines the bottom of the oshibako with the toppings, covers them with sushi rice, and then presses the lid of the mold down to create a compact, rectilinear block. The block is removed from the mold and then cut into bite-sized pieces. Particularly famous is battera or saba zushi.
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