It’s one of the first things that comes to mind when thinking of Japanese cuisine, a humble piece of rice meets a simple slice of raw fish to make one of Japan’s best creations: sushi. The dish originated in ancient Japan eons before the invention of refrigeration, preserving rice and fish with salt to become edible for longer and travel-friendly. Individual pieces of perfectly-vinegared nigiri sushi as we know it today gained popularity during the Edo period, when eating fresh raw fish from Tokyo Bay became the eastern capital’s latest “in” thing. On the other hand, maki (“rolled”) sushi varieties make for easy snacking on-the-go, conveniently wrapped in a layer of salty seaweed.
Once a functional fast food, the delicate art of sushi has since evolved, incorporating new-age flavors, elaborate ingredient combinations, and prefectural specialties to become a quintessential Japanese food. Highly textural and extremely versatile, sushi can be found packed into a market stall bento box, trundling around a conveyor belt at a kaitenzushi restaurant, or served as the chef’s choice (“omakase”) skillfully prepared before your eyes at an intimate upscale experience. Taste this integral part of Japanese culture, eating unforgettable sushi during a local food tour or mastering the art form by making your own sushi at a cooking class. For happiness in bite-sized pieces, the land of sushi awaits.
Sign up to receive insider tips about the food scene in Japan's most extraordinary areas.