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All About Sushi in Tokyo

The history of sushi

It is said that the original form of sushi was a fermented food called narezushi, which is a method of preserving fish (mainly freshwater fish) using lactic acid fermentation of rice. Incidentally, the Enki Shiki (a book written around the 10th century) says that deer sushi and boar sushi were made.

In the Kabuki play Sushi-ya (created in the Edo period, but depicting the late Heian period), a scene of a sushi restaurant at that time with a large number of sushi vats is shown, and with a scene of making narezushi.

Around the Azuchi-Momoyama period, sushi using vinegared rice appeared.
The sushi that emerged during this period is said to be oshi-zushi (pressed sushi), and during the Edo period (1603-1868), various types of sushi were born all over Japan.

The nigiri-zushi was completely different from what we have today. First of all, the vinegared rice was not bite-sized, but rather large, similar to an onigiri (rice ball), and it was a common item for townspeople to pick up after bathing. Traditional Edo-style sushi did not use any uncooked seafood or animals as ingredients. The traditional way of preparing sushi was to season the ingredients thoroughly and cook them by boiling or grilling.

From the late Meiji era to the Taisho era (1912-1926), with the spread of ice making technology and refrigerators, and the development of transportation networks, fresh fish became available, and sushi made using raw fish spread.

As the variety of fish increased, the size of nigiri was reduced to the modern bite-sized portions so that more fish could be eaten.

After the Great Kanto Earthquake, the artisans who were affected by the disaster moved to other parts of Japan, and Edo-mae-zushi spread throughout the country.

In 1958, the first conveyor belt sushi restaurant appeared in Osaka. Kaitenzushi has become an important part of the Japanese sushi industry, along with the traditional Edomae sushi, as it has made sushi, which had become a luxury item, more accessible to the general public.

The difference between 寿司 and 鮨

In fact, there are two types of sushi in Japanese Kanji.

The word sushi is said to have originated from the word 酢 meaning sour, and refers to rice mixed with vinegar and other seasonings, along with seafood and vegetables.
Fish marinated in salt or lees, and preserved food made by marinating fish in fermented rice and letting it ferment, are called 鮓(sushi), a method that has been practiced since ancient times, and is considered the most appropriate kanji for sushi.
This kanji is often used for funa-zushi (crucian carp sushi).

The Chinese kanji for salted fish is 鮓\ and the kanji for 鮨 was created as a substitute for 寿司.
Sushi is often served at celebratory occasions, and the kanji for longevity was chosen for its auspiciousness.
It is also said to have originated from the word Kotobuki, which means longevity in Japanese.
鮨 is said to be a general term for sushi but nowadays, 寿司 is mostly used.

Sushi types

First, let me introduce the definition of sushi. Generally speaking, sushi is a Japanese dish consisting of rice (vinegared rice) and ingredients (mainly seafood). In addition to fresh seafood, it is not uncommon for ingredients such as meat, vegetables, and eggs to be used as ingredients. In addition, there are many different types of sushi. California rolls are a good example, but the ingredients and descriptions used vary by region and restaurant.

The following are the major types of sushi:
・Nigiri zushi
・Rolled sushi
・Oshizushi (pressed sushi)
・Chirashi zushi
・Pressed Sushi stick
・Inari zushi

Let’s look at them one by one in detail!

Nigiri zushi

Nigiri-zushi is made by gripping a bite-sized piece of vinegared rice, spreading a thin layer of wasabi (Japanese horseradish) on it, and topping it with seasonal seafood. It was perfected in the Edo period (1603-1867), and is also called Edomae Sushi because the ingredients are seafood from the sea in front of Edo. Today, nigirizushi has become so popular that the word \”sushi\” simply refers to this type of sushi.

Rolled sushi

It is made by spreading rice on a sheet of nori (seaweed), placing the ingredients on top, rolling it up, and then cutting it into pieces of appropriate size. In addition to nori, shaved kelp can be used as a substitute, in which case it is called rolled sushi. When the nori is rolled upside down so that it does not touch the surface, it is called Uramaki and is often used in Western-style sushi.

Thick roll sushi

When you roll up a nori roll with many ingredients such as sakura-denbu, kampyo, cucumber, and omelet, it is called futomaki as it looks. When making this type of sushi, it is possible to adjust the position of the ingredients to create a design on the cut surface, which is called decorative sushi.

Medium roll sushi

Unlike the thick roll, this is a nori (seaweed) roll with several items of seafood as the main ingredients. It is called Naka-maki because it is medium in thickness. Salad rolls, which have become popular in recent years, and eho maki sushi, which is eaten during Setsubun, are often made with this medium roll.

Thin sushi roll

Most of the nori rolls served at sushi restaurants are thin rolls. Most of them are made by rolling up individual ingredients. There are many variations of this type of sushi, such as kappamaki, negitoro maki, kampyo maki, and natto maki.

Oshizushi (pressed sushi)

Oshizushi, which is made by pressing sushi rice into a mold instead of holding it, can be divided into several types depending on how it is made and what ingredients are used. Unlike Edomae Sushi, it is not made one piece at a time, but rather one large piece at a time, and when eating it, it is cut into pieces like yokan.

Battera sushi

This is a type of pressed sushi made by placing sushi rice, mackerel, and kombu (white kelp) on a rectangular box, and then pressing it into the box using a press mold. It was originally a type of Kansai sushi, but nowadays it can be found everywhere.

Mackerel sushi

Saba-zushi is made in a similar way to battera, but there are some differences, such as it is formed using a sushi roll instead of forcing it into a shape, wrapped in bamboo leaves, and is not rectangular. Similarly, Kakinoha-zushi wrapped in persimmon leaves is also famous.


This is not inari sushi, but unari sushi. It is made with a layer of grilled eel sauce, hence the name Unagi-zushi. It is said that the name unari-zushi comes from the fact that it is so delicious that one cannot help but groan at the combination of the sauce and inari-zushi.

Trout sushi

Trout sushi is made by filling a round bamboo bowl with sushi rice, arranging trout fillets neatly, and then making pressed sushi. Oshizushi generally keeps longer than nigirizushi, and many of them are still delicious even after a long time.

Chirashi zushi

Chirashi-zushi is a common type of sushi that is made both at home and in sushi restaurants. It is called chirashi-zushi because the ingredients are scattered on top of the sushi rice, but the ingredients used are slightly different between home and specialty restaurants. However, there are no restrictions on the ingredients used in chirashi-zushi, so it’s basically up to your preference.

Pressed sushi stick

It is a bar-shaped sushi using fish in its original form. The fish is vinegared or broiled and placed on a bed of sushi rice, then wrapped in a dish towel or sushi mat. Typical examples are unagi (eel) and hamo (pond smelt) broiled in broth, anago (conger eel) broiled in white and boiled, and mackerel and mackerel in vinegar. One of the specialties of Kyoto is mackerel and hamo.

Inari zushi

Inari-zushi, also known as Oinari-san. It is made by stuffing vinegar rice into fried tofu, a favorite food of the foxes worshipped at Inari Shrine. The sushi rice is sometimes mixed with sesame seeds, small pieces of boiled vegetables, boiled shiitake mushrooms, and okara. It is easy to make and may often be made at home.


Temakizushi is a type of sushi in which vinegared rice and various ingredients are rolled up in Nori seaweed. While most sushi rolls are made using a bamboo blind, Temakizushi is rolled by hand. Temakizushi is a home-style dish that is enjoyed not only for everyday meals, but also for small celebrations and home parties. You can choose your favorite ingredients such as meat and vegetables as well as sashimi, so it can be enjoyed by both children and the elderly. It is a dish that can be enjoyed together by people with different food preferences, such as those who don’t like raw fish or natto.


For example, salmon roe and sea urchin can be made into nigiri-zushi if they are well-shaped fillets or somewhat large, but if they are not, they will fall apart, so the gunkan-maki method is used. The sushi rice is wrapped with nori (seaweed), and the fragile ingredients are placed on top. By using this method, ingredients that could not be made into nigiri-zushi before can now be used as sushi ingredients.

The best places to eat sushi in Tokyo

If you’re going to eat sushi, you want to go to a good restaurant. Here are some of the best sushi restaurants in Tokyo.

東麻布 天本(Higasiazabu Amamoto)

Higashi-Azabu Amamoto, a two-star restaurant that inherits the taste of the famous sushi restaurant Umami, is another recommended high-end sushi restaurant in Tokyo. The restaurant has been dedicated to Edo-mae-zushi for many years, and you can enjoy the highest quality Edo-mae-zushi that evolves every day.
The restaurant is so popular that it is sometimes impossible to get a reservation up to three months in advance. The nearest station is Akabanebashi Station on the Toei Oedo Line. It’s less than a five-minute walk.
It is also about a 10-minute walk from Kamiyacho Station on the Hibiya Line.
With the confidence that the fish caught in the seas around Japan is absolutely delicious, Amamoto’s sushi should be eaten at least once in a lifetime, as it is made with the utmost care and attention to the ingredients directly from the source.

URL: 店舗情報 | 東麻布天本 (

鮨 なんば 日比谷(Sushi Namba Hibiya)

Sushi Namba Hibiya is another of Tokyo’s finest sushi restaurants, offering sushi with meticulous attention to detail. The menu lists the temperature of the rice and ingredients. Be sure to try the omakase course for a taste of sushi made with the passion and inquisitiveness of the chefs.
In fact, this restaurant was featured on a Japanese TV program last year, which has spurred the popularity of the restaurant.
Located in Tokyo Midtown Hibiya, the restaurant has eight seats, and it is also quite difficult to get a reservation.
However, this restaurant does offer takeout with advance phone reservations.

URL: 鮨 なんば (

日本橋蛎殻町 すぎた (Nihonbashi kakigaracho Sugita)

At Sugita, Nihonbashi-Kaigaracho, which serves classical Edo-mae Sushi, you can feel the exquisite texture and rich flavor of the sushi carefully prepared by a craftsman who was trained at a long-established sushi restaurant established in the Meiji era.
The restaurant is also well received by customers for its hospitality, satisfying both your taste buds and your heart.
The location is Suitengu-mae and on the Hanzomon line, which is also great.

URL: 日本橋蛎殻町 すぎた – 極上の鮨 (

秀徳 築地 (Hidetoku Tsukiji)

The restaurant has been in business for 400 years, and every morning the seventh generation buys fresh fish from Tsukiji.

There is also a casual atmosphere, so you don’t have to worry even if you are a first-timer. If you’re looking for a sushi restaurant with good cost performance outside Tsukiji, this is the place.
They have a wide variety of lunch courses in the ¥2,000, ¥4,000, ¥6,000, and ¥8,000 range, making it a great place to eat cheap and delicious sushi.
The restaurant introduced here is the second one, but reservations are possible only here.
The restaurant is located in Tsukiji, which is also a tourist spot, so you can stop by while sightseeing.

URL: 築地 寿司 秀徳 (

468 浅草(468 Asakusa)

This is a restaurant that mainly serves bar sushi. The specialty is the conger eel bar sushi, but the mackerel sushi, sweet potato soup, and omelet are also excellent. Edomae sushi can be found just about anywhere, but a restaurant specializing in bar sushi is a rarity.
The restaurant is small, but it is fun to talk with the friendly owner who is from Kyoto. It is also very luxurious as a take-out.
Lunch is inexpensive at 2,000 yen, and dinner is in the 5,000 yen range, making it an easy challenge.
Located in Asakusa, it is also a great place to visit during your sightseeing tour of Tokyo.

URL:468(@sushi468tokyo) • Instagram写真と動画

鮨でですけ(Sushi dedesuke)

From Hokkaido in the north to Fukuoka in Kyushu in the south, fresh local fish is available directly from the source.
The menu is as simple as possible in terms of what you can taste and what you can\’t.
This is the perfect place for fish lovers.

You may be concerned about the price of high-grade ingredients and local fish directly from the production area, but with the all-you-can-eat menu available only on weekends and holidays, you can relax. The all-you-can-eat menu includes more than 60 kinds of fish, from standard to local, and includes appetizers, soup, and steamed egg custard.
You can also eat as many dishes as you like using seasonal ingredients. Another great point!

There is a limit to the number of portions you can order, and of course, you are not allowed to leave any leftovers.
There is an additional charge for any leftovers.

URL: でですけ (

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