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Wasabi is a spice traditionally prepared from a plant from the cabbage family.

Its root is used as

a spice and has a very strong flavor. The root is smashed up into paste and used as a
condiment. Its hotness is more like hot mustard or horseradish than chili pepper, because it
irritates the nose more than the tongue.

Sushi Types: A List for Connoisseurs

Outside of Japan, sushi is considered by many as the quintessential Japanese food though it
often takes on the Westernized appearance of sushi rolls, like the California roll or the
salmon and avocado roll. But beyond what you may already know, there is a wide range of
differing shapes, sizes, and flavors that have continued to develop in Japan since the 8th

Makizushi, also known as “norimaki,” refers to a type of sushi where rice and ingredients
are carefully rolled in a sheet of nori seaweed, which is then cut into smaller pieces. It’s
believed that makizushi came into existence in the early 1700s, soon after sheet nori was
invented with a similar technique used for paper making. The name norimaki is made up of
two Japanese words: “Maki” meaning to roll and “nori” referring to the toasted sheet of nori
seaweed used to wrap the ingredients.

Long, thin rolls typically featuring just one ingredient like a strip of fresh tuna, cucumber, or
pickled daikon are called hosomaki. Futomaki (futo meaning fat) is a thicker variety of
makizushi, and includes a combination of complimentary ingredients. Futomaki, unlike in
foreign countries, is less likely to appear at sushi restaurants, but can usually be found in
bento boxes and supermarkets. Uramaki, often called “inside-out sushi” in English, is a
modern version of makizushi believed to have been invented in California in the 1960s. It’s
made by first layering the rice onto the bamboo sushi mat, then laying the nori sheet on top
followed by the remaining ingredients, before rolling. It’s often rolled in sesame seeds,
which easily stick to the exterior rice or topped with tobiko fish eggs for extra crunch.

Gunkan Maki
Gunkan maki is another type of maki—“rolled” or “wrapped” sushi—and was invented in a
Ginza sushi restaurant in the 1940s. It’s made by wrapping a wide strip of nori around a rice
ball while leaving enough space at the top to be filled with various ingredients. The name,
translated as “battleship” or “warship” sushi, comes from its shape, resembling a tiny ship.
Popular toppings for gunkan maki include uni sea urchin, squid, salmon roe, negitoro (a
blend of fatty tuna belly and green onion), potato salad, and kanimiso (blended crab
brains). Gunkan maki is commonly found both in takeout sushi bento boxes and at sushi


Temaki is a novel type of sushi with a shape resembling that of an ice cream cone. To make
it, rice and ingredients are held within a sheet of nori wrapped into a conical shape. It’s
popular at restaurants, as well as for making at home, given its simplicity. Temaki lends
itself to a variety of fillings, with some popular types including umeshiso—a paste made of
fresh shiso leaf and umeboshi (pickled plum), negitoro, squid with and without natto, and
sweetened omelet.

Fermentation was a technique used the world over to preserve fish and other products
before the invention of refrigeration. Japan’s narezushi—a dish of fish preserved for several
months to several years in salt and rice—is a perfect example of this technique that dates to
the Nara period (710–794). Narezushi is commonly regarded as the original form of sushi,
even though the rice was originally discarded before eating. Over time, the fermentation
period became shorter so that the rice could be eaten with the fish, which then gave way to
more modern types of sushi.

These days, narezushi is generally less popular because of its extremely pungent flavor.
However, funazushi of the Shiga prefecture remains popular, which is made using the
nigorobuna fish from nearby Lake Biwa. Because it takes up to five years to ferment,
funazushi is considered a regional delicacy due to its high price.

Nigiri is the original form of sushi that we know today. Also called edo-mae (meaning “in
front of Edo”), the name refers to its birthplace of Tokyo (formerly Edo). It’s made up of a
hand-pressed rice cylinder (shari) topped with any number of ingredients (neta). It’s
believed to have been invented as a type of “fast food” by an enterprising sushi chef
working in the Edo area during the 1800s who decided to sell his freshly created sushi to
nearby workers for a quick snack. The topping can be seafood, vegetables, meat, omelet, or
tofu, and in addition to fresh seafood, the fish may be pickled in soy sauce or vinegar, or
broiled with a blowtorch. A simple coating of marinade and garnishes such as spring onions,
shaved onion, or chives may also be added.

Oshizushi (pressed sushi), also known as hakozushi (boxed sushi), is a strikingly shaped
style of sushi originating in Osaka. This variety is made by pressing ingredients into an
“oshiwaku” rectangular box, then layering it with toppings and cutting the sushi into neat
angular shapes like rectangles, triangle or small squares. The toppings include fish like
mackerel or gizzard shad, and may also be decoratively layered with edible leaves like
bamboo. Toppings may be placed in different arrangements, such as diagonally or with a
whole fish from end to end, and this unique display makes oshizushi a popular choice for
bento boxes and gifts.

In Japanese, “sasa” is a bamboo leaf, and sasazushi is sushi consisting of rice and toppings
wrapped in a bamboo leaf. Sasazushi is thought to have come from the Nagano prefecture
during the Warring States period (1467–1573), and differing accounts say that its origin
was either because food was served on bamboo leaves, or because Nagano locals were
looking for a dish to impress the visiting samurai warlord of the time, Uesugi Kenshin.
Toppings include a wide range of wild vegetables such as mugwort and bamboo shoots,
walnuts, mushrooms, miso, shredded omelet and salmon.


Another type of pressed, leaf-wrapped sushi is kakinoha-zushi, which comes from the Nara
region of western Japan and dates to the Edo period. This version is wrapped in a
persimmon (kaki) leaf. As Nara is a landlocked area, fresh seafood was often wrapped in
persimmon leaves during transportation before the days of refrigeration; not only did the
leaf preserve the fish with its antibacterial properties, it imparted a delicate aroma.
Kakinoha-zushi is most commonly made by placing salmon or mackerel on top of the rice,
but it can also feature other ingredients like prawn or eel. It’s a popular omiyage (souvenir)
for visitors to the region, and is available at local department stores and train stations.

Temari is a less known variety of sushi overseas, and is also not as common to find in
Japan, although it’s a popular style of sushi to make at home given its simplicity in form.
It’s made with a small round ball of pressed rice topped with a thin layer of fish or other
ingredients, which is fitting since the name comes from the traditional Japanese
embroidered ball, temari, meaning “hand ball.” Often colorful and decorative, it’s a popular
food for parties and picnics, and is often made for the traditional girl’s day celebration
known as Hinamatsuri. If making temari for a picnic, it’s best to used cured or cooked
seafood rather than raw sashimi.

Chirashizushi, translated as “scattered sushi,” is a bowl of rice topped with a variety of
ingredients, with popular toppings including pieces of salmon, squid, cucumber, shredded
omelet, and boiled prawns. It’s similar to a kaisendon (Japanese rice bowl topped with a
large amount of seafood), with the main difference being that chirashizushi uses vinegared
sushi rice whereas kaisendon uses plain steamed white rice. You can easily find
chirashizushi throughout Japan as it's widely available in convenience stores, supermarkets
and department store food courts. It’s often included as a bento box feature, or enjoyed as
a stand-alone meal, given its wide variety of ingredients. Its decorative, bejeweled
appearance makes it popular to serve at celebratory occasions.

Inari-zushi is quite different from the other varieties mentioned above, since in its most
common form it doesn't contain any fish and is quite sweet in flavor. Inari is a pouch-like
piece of aburaage (deep-fried tofu) that has been simmered in a seasoning of mirin, soy
sauce, dashi and sugar. It’s named after the Shinto god, Inari, who is said to have had a
fondness for tofu. The seasoned inari pouch is most commonly filled with vinegared sushi
rice to create a sweet, slightly sour, juicy dish. However, inari-zushi can also be filled with
rice mixed with other ingredients, or rice topped with a range of ingredients like
mushrooms, squid, boiled prawns, chives or shredded omelet. The versatility, ease of
making, and portability of inari-zushi makes it a popular item for bento as well as finger
food for picnics and parties.

Be Sure to Try as Many Sushi Types as Possible in Japan!

These days, sushi can be found in Japan everywhere from home prepared meals to
convenience stores shelves, not to mention supermarkets, standing sushi
bars, kaitenzushi (conveyor belt) restaurants and upmarket specialty sushi eateries that
have reservation waiting lists booked for months in advance.

Trying sushi in Japan, wherever you may find it, is a special experience, given the variety of
local rice, the fresh seasonal seafood and vegetables, the attention to detail of Japanese
sushi chefs, the millennia of history, and the many countless varieties not commonly
available overseas. So be sure to browse Gurunavi’s listings to find a local sushi
restaurant during your next trip to Japan!

A California roll or California maki is a makizushi sushi roll, usually made inside-out,
containing cucumber, crab meat or imitation crab, and avocado. Sometimes crab salad is substituted
for the crab stick, and often the outer layer of rice in an inside-out roll (uramaki) is sprinkled with
toasted sesame seeds, tobiko or masago (capelin roe).
As one of the most popular styles of sushi in Canada and the United States, the California roll has
been influential in sushi's global popularity and in inspiring sushi chefs around the world in creating
their non-traditional fusion cuisine.[2]

The identity of the creator of the California roll is disputed, with chefs from Vancouver and Los
Angeles claiming credit.
One theory is that the California roll was created in Canada, by Chef Hidekazu Tojo, a Japanese
native who moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in August 1971. Tojo insists he is the innovator of
the "inside-out" sushi, and it got the name "California roll" because it was popular with patrons from
Los Angeles.[3][4] He has recounted how his original invention included cucumber, cooked crab, and
The early recipe used frozen king crab legs, since surimi imitation crab was not yet
available.[6] Cucumber, mayonnaise, and sesame seed were missing; these ingredients were all
added later.[7] The original California roll was wrapped traditional style, with the nori seaweed on the
outside, which American customers tended to peel off. So eventually the roll "inside-out",
i.e. uramaki version was developed.[8] This adaptation has also been credited to Mashita by figures
associated with the restaurant.[a][9]
A rival theory attributes the invention to Ichiro Mashita, sushi chef at the Tokyo Kaikan in Little
Tokyo, Los Angeles, United States.[7]According to this account, Mashita began substituting avocado
for toro (fatty tuna) in the off-season, and after further experimentation, developed the prototype,
back in the 1960s[10][11][12] (or early 1970s[9]).
The earliest documented claim for the invention of the California roll credits a chef named Ken
Seusa at the Kin Jo sushi restaurant near Hollywood. The claim was made by Mrs. Fuji Wade,
manager of the restaurant, and reported in an Associated Press news feed in 1979. Food writer
Andrew F. Smith observes that this claim stood uncontested for more than 20 years.[13][14]
The AP story had appeared very shortly after the term "California Roll" was used in print, in the Los
Angeles Times and an Ocala, Florida newspaper on November 25, 1979.[13]The California roll was
featured by Gourmet magazine in 1980, and taken up by a restaurant critic for The New York
Times the following year.[15]
After becoming a favorite in Southern California, the dish became popular all across the United
States by the 1980s. The roll contributed to sushi's growing popularity in the United States by easing
diners into more exotic sushi options.[16] Sushi chefs have since devised many kinds of rolls, beyond
simple variations of the California roll.
The official Japanese-language name is Nippon koku or Nihon koku (日本国), literally "State of
Japan". From the Meiji Restoration until the end of World War II, the full title of Japan was the
"Empire of Greater Japan" (大日本帝國 Dai Nippon Teikoku).

What are the names of Japan?

In Japanese, the name of Japan is Nihon or Nippon. Either form is

written 日本 in kanji. These two characters mean "sun" and "origin",
and "Nihon" means "origin of the sun", in other words "the land of
the rising sun". The reason Japan refers to itself in this way is that
Japan is east of China, and from China the sun rises from Japan.

The earliest record of the name "Nihon" appears in the Chinese

historical records of the Tang dynasty, the Old Book of
Tang,kutōjo (旧唐書) in Japanese. At the start of the seventh
century, a delegation from Japan introduced their country as Nihon.
Prince Shotoku, the Regent of Japan, sent a mission to China with a
letter in which he called himself 'the Emperor of the Land in which
the Sun rises'. Thus Nihon might have originated in this period. The
reading of the message in Japanese is:

Hi iduru tokoro no Tenshi, Sho wo Hi bossuru tokoro no Tenshi ni

itasu. Tsutsuga nakiya?

which means

"The Emperor of the land where Sun rises sends a letter to the
Emperor of the land where Sun sets. Are you healthy?"

This letter was sent in the early period of the 7th century, either
605, 608 or 612. The message is recorded in the official history
book of the Sui dynasty.

The alternative reading Nippon is often used. Japanese bank notes

use "Nippon" rather than "Nihon". Japanese sports fans at
international matches chant Nippon rather than Nihon.
For the origin of the English name Japan, see Where does the name
Japan come from?

Other names for Japan

Wa (倭)

In ancient Chinese geography, Japan was

called 倭 (pronounced wa in Japanese). An ancient Chinese history
book from the Tang dynasty calls Japan Wa. Mention of wa also
occurs in China's 'Sangoku-shi' (三国志) in the section commonly
referred to as Gi-shi Wajin-den, which the 'Romance of the Three
Kingdoms' is based on. This character means obedient, gentle, or
meek. So it's not a bad word, though not so good. The ancient
Japanese, however, hated the name because it resembled another
character, 矮, meaning 'dwarf'.

Wa (和)

The first "wa" kanji was later replaced with 和 (wa) meaning

Yamato (大和)

Yamato was originally a Japanese government area in Nara.

The kanji are taken from the second version of wa above.

Yamatai (邪馬台)

The Japanese never used this term. It is the modern Japanese

reading of characters in a Chinese document relating to an
expedition to Japan. It is highly likely that what the Chinese were
trying to record was the Japanese word Yamato.

Hi no moto (日の本)

This is the kun-yomi (native Japanese reading) of Nippon/Nihon.

See Why do kanji have several different pronunciations? for more
about kun-yomi and on-yomi.
Fusō (扶桑)

Fusō, which also means "hibiscus", was a Chinese name for Japan.
The hibiscus was also a legendary plant which lived on an island in
the Pacific where the sun was supposed to originate from. This
legendary fusō first appeared in a historical book in the Song
dynasty, which started in 960 A.D. After that, the name changed to
mean Japan, so the origin is relatively new. A Japanese historical
book (Fusō Ryakuki) was written in the Heian era (794-1185), so
the word was imported to Japan at the latest in the 12th
century. Nihon is older than Fusō. Probably Fusō was used as a
poetic name for Nihon.


The English name "Japan" seems to come from the time of Marco
Polo. See Where does the name Japan come from?

Prefixes and other forms

Prefixes and abbreviations used to denote "Japan" include Wa (和
), Nichi (日), and Hō (邦).

Wa- (和)
A wa-shitsu (Japanese style room). Photo: Kimura2
Public domain image

The form Wa, meaning "harmony", is used as a prefix meaning

"Japanese" in words such as wafū (和風), "Japanese
style",washitsu (和室), "Japanese style room", or wasei (和製),
"made in Japan". See also What are these pseudo English words like

Nichi- (日)

The form Nichi (sun or day) is used in abbreviations for politics and
international relations, for example nichibei (日米) "Japan-America",
or rainichi (来日) "coming to Japan". See also Why is America
called bei?

Hō (邦)
The suffix Hō (邦) is used in words such as hōgaku (邦楽),
"traditional Japanese music", hōga (邦画), "Japanese films",
(compared to 洋画, "foreign films"), and hōjin (邦人), "a Japanese
citizen in a foreign country".


J, an abbreviation of "Japan", is used in "JR" for "Japan railways", "J

League", the Japanese professional football league, and many other


This answer was edited from posts by very many people. Special
thanks to NAKANO Yasuaki and Bart Mathias for several corrections
and additions.

Abura-age Fried bean curd

Awabi Abalone
Azuki Red beans
Daikon Giant radish
Daizu Soya
Ebi Shrimp
Genmai Unhusked brown rice
Ginnan Gingko nut
Hasu Lotus root
Kaki Oyster
Katsuobushi Dried bonito
Koi Carp
Kombu Kelp
Kuri Chestnuts
Kyuri Cucumber
Miso Fermented soybean and rice dish
Misoshiro Bean paste soup
Mochi Rice cake
Negi Green onion
Niboshi Dried sardines
Sake Rice wine
Sanhso Red pepper
Sashimi Raw fish
Shiitake Mushroom
Shoga Ginger
Takenoko Bamboo shoot
Tempura Food dipped in batter and deep fried
Thoyhu Sota sauce
Tofu Soybean curd
Tororo Yams
Unagi Eel
Wasabi Horse radish
Zoni Rice cake soup
the samurai warriors, with no doubt, had a wider range of food than the peasants. While
the samurai warriors were fighting at war, their diet mainly consisted of rice, beans, fruit, soy
products, vegetables, seafood, meats and Fu. fu is also known as wheat gluten.