Experience Japanese Food Culture: How to Enjoy Sushi



Japanese food culture attracts food lovers around the world with its uniqueness and delicacy. One of the most notable examples is sushi. Sushi is one of Japan’s most iconic dishes, combining the freshest seafood with expertly crafted techniques. If you are planning a trip to Japan, tasting sushi is an experience you should not miss.

Sushi is unique to each region of Japan, as different styles and flavors can be enjoyed in different parts of the country. For example, Tokyo’s Edomae sushi is a simple taste that makes the most of fresh seafood, Osaka’s Hakozushi is a beautiful-looking pressed sushi, and Hokkaido’s Kaisendon is a sumptuous dish that uses an abundance of seafood. A trip to these regional sushi destinations provides an excellent opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of Japan’s diverse food culture.

The experience of eating sushi has a special meaning that goes beyond a simple meal. It is a major event that allows visitors to experience firsthand the history, culture, and craftsmanship of Japan. Each piece of sushi, made by a sushi chef with great care, is filled with the background of the local climate, climate, and ingredients.

When you visit Japan, we encourage you to taste sushi and experience its profound charm. By gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of Japanese food culture through sushi, your trip will be even richer and more memorable.


Sushi is a dish with a particularly long and deep history in Japanese food culture. Its origins date back to the Nara period (710-794), when it was first popular in the form of nare-zushi, a fermented form of sushi in which fish was fermented to preserve it. This fermented sushi evolved and in the Edo period (1603-1867), nigirizushi in its present form was born.

Nigiri-zushi became popular as a fast food in Tokyo during the Edo period (1603-1867), then known as Edo. The style in which fresh seafood was quickly nigirized and served to customers became popular among Edo people. This became known as “Edomae-zushi” and is the foundation of modern sushi culture.

In recent years, sushi has become a globally loved cuisine and has gained international popularity. The art and taste of sushi has transcended national borders, with sushi restaurants opening in many countries and creative sushi creations incorporating local ingredients. This has made sushi more than just a Japanese dish; it has become part of the global food culture.

When visiting Japan, we invite you to reflect on the history of sushi and taste its deep traditions and evolution. Experiencing Japan’s rich culinary culture through sushi and understanding the history behind it will enhance your travel experience.


There are many types of sushi, each with its own unique charm and flavor. When you visit Japan, be sure to try a variety of different types of sushi.


Nigirizushi is the most common form of sushi. It is a simple and beautiful dish of fresh fish or seafood on a small bed of vinegared rice. Typical ingredients include tuna, salmon, shrimp, and scallops. Edo-mae sushi in Tokyo is known as an example of this nigirizushi.


Sashimi is a simple way to savor sushi ingredients. Fresh seafood is sliced and served without vinegared rice. Seasoned with soy sauce and wasabi, the original flavor of the ingredients can be enjoyed. Especially in Japan, where fresh fish is abundant, sashimi is a must-try dish.

Rolled Sushi

Makizushi is sushi with vinegared rice and ingredients rolled in seaweed. Typical types include kappa maki (cucumber roll), tetsubi maki (tuna roll), and futomaki (roll with multiple ingredients). Sushi rolls are easy to eat and look gorgeous, and are popular at parties and special occasions.


Temakizushi is a cone-shaped piece of sushi that is held in the hand. It is characterized by its easy-to-eat style, with sushi rice and ingredients wrapped in nori (seaweed). It is popular at home because it is easy to make at home.


Chirashi-zushi is sushi with ingredients such as sashimi and vegetables scattered over a bed of vinegared rice. It is colorful and beautiful to look at, and is often served at special events and celebrations. The combination of ingredients can be freely chosen, allowing you to enjoy ingredients of each season.


Oshizushi is a type of sushi made by compressing sushi using a box or mold. Osaka’s boxed sushi is well-known and is popular as a souvenir or gift because it looks beautiful and can be preserved. The sushi rice and ingredients are pressed tightly together and can be enjoyed in one bite.

By trying these diverse types of sushi, you will gain a deeper understanding and enjoyment of Japan’s rich food culture. We encourage you to taste and experience the variety of sushi when you visit Japan.

Manners and Eating

When enjoying sushi, it is important to know the unique Japanese manners and ways of eating in order to more deeply appreciate the experience. Here are some basic manners and ways to eat sushi so that even first-timers can enjoy sushi with ease.

The Proper Way to Eat Sushi

Sushi may be eaten with your hands or with chopsticks. In the case of nigirizushi, the fish part is usually placed face down and dipped in soy sauce. This keeps the sushi rice from falling apart and allows the soy sauce to be applied appropriately. It is considered polite to eat the sushi in one bite, and this allows you to enjoy the flavors of the ingredients to the fullest.

How to Use Soy Sauce and Wasabi

Sushi usually already contains a moderate amount of wasabi. If additional wasabi is used, a small amount should be placed on top of the fish. Pour a little soy sauce on a small plate and lightly dip the sushi piece in the soy sauce. Be careful not to dip the sushi rice side into the soy sauce, so that the taste is balanced and delicious.

Role of Gari (Ginger)

Gari is served to refresh the palate between servings of sushi. By eating a small amount of gari before eating the next piece of sushi, the taste of the previous piece of sushi is eliminated and the new sushi flavor is enjoyed. Gari itself can be eaten as is, but does not need to be dipped in soy sauce.

Manners at the restaurant

Manners at sushi restaurants are also important. Expressing gratitude to the sushi chef is considered polite behavior. When ordering, greet the chef lightly at the beginning of the meal and say “Gochisoso-sama desu” (thank you for the meal) when you are finished. Also, please be careful not to talk loudly or use your cell phone in the restaurant and respect the distance between you and other customers.

Tipping Culture

In Japan, there is generally no tipping culture. The same is true at sushi restaurants. Since the service charge is included in the price, there is no need to tip. When paying the bill, it is important to pay the correct amount and show your appreciation in a pleasant manner.

Understanding sushi etiquette and how to eat sushi will help you enjoy Japanese food culture more deeply. By keeping these points in mind and tasting sushi in a courteous manner, your trip will be even richer and more memorable.

Recommended restaurants

There are numerous sushi restaurants in Japan, each offering its own unique charm and flavor. Here, we introduce some sushi restaurants and national chain restaurants that we highly recommend for visitors to Japan. Please refer to the characteristics and access information of each restaurant to plan your trip to Japan.

Recommended Sushi Restaurants in Tokyo

Tokyo is a mecca for sushi, with many famous sushi restaurants lining the streets. One of the most famous is Sukiyabashi Jiro. It is a Michelin-starred restaurant, where you can enjoy the fresh ingredients and the skill of the chefs. Another popular spot is “Sushi Dai” in the Tsukiji Market. At this restaurant, where people line up early in the morning, you can enjoy the freshest sushi that only Tsukiji can offer.

Recommended Sushi Restaurants in Osaka

Osaka is known as a city of food, and there are many famous sushi restaurants. Endo Sushi is one of them, and is a long-established restaurant with a history of over 100 years. In addition to traditional Edo-mae sushi, the restaurant also offers original and creative sushi. Icho” is another sushi restaurant loved by locals, serving fresh fish at reasonable prices.

Recommended Sushi Restaurants in Kyoto

Kyoto is dotted with sushi restaurants that evoke a sense of history and elegance. Izu” is a typical example of such a sushi restaurant, and is famous as a long-established Kyoto-style sushi restaurant. In particular, their specialty is saba-zushi (mackerel sushi), which is characterized by its robust flavor. Furthermore, “Ganko-zushi” is popular among tourists and offers authentic sushi at an affordable price.

Recommended Sushi Restaurants in Hokkaido

Hokkaido is rich in seafood, and you can enjoy sushi made with fresh seafood. Sushi Zen” is one such restaurant, and is well known for its sushi using plenty of fresh, locally caught fish. Nemuro Hanamaru” is also known as a famous conveyor-belt sushi restaurant, with a diverse menu and high-quality ingredients.

Nationwide Chain Restaurants

There are chain restaurants throughout Japan where you can easily enjoy delicious sushi in many areas. Sushiro is a typical example, offering fresh ingredients at reasonable prices. Its extensive menu and consistent quality are appealing. Kura Sushi” is another popular chain, characterized by its unique way of serving sushi and a variety of side dishes. Hamazushi” also has a nationwide presence and offers authentic sushi at affordable prices.

There are many sushi restaurants throughout Japan that are worth visiting. When you travel, be sure to visit these recommended restaurants and enjoy the Japanese food culture. It is advisable to check each restaurant’s reservation method and access information in advance to ensure a smooth enjoyment of your visit. A tour of the best sushi restaurants will surely enrich your memories of your trip to Japan.

Local specialties of each region

Each region of Japan has its own sushi, and you can enjoy unique sushi that makes the most of the specialties of each region. When traveling, you can gain a deeper understanding of Japanese food culture by tasting sushi made from the specialties of each region.

Edomae Sushi in Tokyo

Edomae Sushi is the most famous type of sushi in Tokyo. Edo-mae-zushi is a style of sushi developed during the Edo period (1603-1867), in which fresh seafood is served on vinegared rice. It is especially characterized by the technique of using boiled-down soy sauce to bring out the flavor of the fish. Typical ingredients include tuna, sea eel, and kohada. You can enjoy authentic Edomaezushi in Ginza and Tsukiji.

Hakozushi in Osaka

Hakozushi (pressed sushi) is a specialty in Osaka. This style of sushi is made by pressing sushi rice and ingredients together in a wooden frame, and is characterized by its beautiful appearance and high shelf life. Typical ingredients include mackerel, shrimp, and shiitake mushrooms. You can taste traditional box sushi at long-established sushi restaurants in Osaka City.

Kaisendon in Hokkaido

Hokkaido is rich in fresh seafood, and kaisen-don is very popular. Kaisen-don is a sumptuous dish consisting of a generous portion of fresh seafood on a bed of vinegared rice. Typical ingredients include salmon roe, sea urchin, crab, and scallops. You can enjoy fresh kaisendon at markets in Sapporo and Otaru.

Horse Meat Sushi in Kyushu

In the Kyushu region, especially in Kumamoto, horse meat sushi is a well-known specialty. This sushi is made by slicing fresh horse meat into thin slices and serving it on a bed of vinegared rice, offering a unique flavor and texture. You can enjoy authentic horse meat sushi at specialty restaurants in Kumamoto City.

By enjoying sushi made with local specialties from different regions, you can experience the diverse culinary culture of Japan. When you travel, be sure to taste sushi made with these regional specialties and enjoy the unique flavors of each region. You will be able to fully enjoy the charm of sushi that can only be found in each region of Japan.

Drinks to go with the food

When enjoying sushi, choosing a beverage that goes well with the food will further enhance its flavor. Japanese sushi culture has several traditional beverages that go well with sushi. Here are some typical drinks that go well with sushi.


Sake is a traditional beverage that goes great with sushi. Junmai sake and ginjo-shu, in particular, enhance the flavor of fish and allow you to enjoy the delicate taste of sushi even more deeply. When served chilled, sake pairs perfectly with the fresh flavors of sushi. Sake made by local sake breweries can be enjoyed at sushi restaurants throughout Japan, so be sure to savor the flavors of each region you visit.


Beer is another beverage that goes well with sushi. Light lager beer, in particular, blends well with the refreshing taste of sushi, and it is a refreshing complement to the entire meal. Japanese beer brands include Asahi, Kirin, and Sapporo, each with its own unique flavor that pairs well with sushi.

Green Tea

Green tea is a classic beverage for sushi. The refreshing flavor of green tea refreshes the palate and allows you to enjoy the next morsel more fully. Green tea also contains catechins, which aid in digestion. It is often offered free of charge at sushi restaurants, so be sure to enjoy it along with your meal.


Shochu goes especially well with the rich flavor of sushi. Different types of shochu, such as potato shochu and barley shochu, have different flavors and serve to enhance the taste of sushi. By drinking shochu with water or on the rocks, you can enjoy the perfect balance between the shochu and the sushi.

Carbonated drinks

Carbonated beverages are also recommended for those who are not fond of alcohol or for children. Oolong tea and ginger ale, in particular, enhance the taste of sushi and refresh the palate.

Choosing beverages that go well with sushi will enhance the overall dining experience. Enjoying sushi with traditional Japanese beverages allows you to fully appreciate the depth of flavor. We encourage you to taste sushi with these beverages and experience the exquisite combination when you visit Japan.


Japanese food culture is highly appreciated throughout the world, and sushi is especially popular among them. The history of sushi dates back to the Nara period (710-794), and nigirizushi as we know it today appeared in the Edo period (1603-1868). Sushi that makes use of regional specialties can be enjoyed in different regions, such as Edomaezushi in Tokyo, Hakozushi in Osaka, Kaisendon (seafood bowl) in Hokkaido, and Bakozushi in Kyushu.

There are many types of sushi, including nigirizushi, sashimi, makizushi, temakizushi, chirashizushi, and oshizushi, each offering a different taste and texture. In terms of proper eating, sushi can be eaten with hands or chopsticks and is usually served with the fish part down and soy sauce on top. Gari (ginger) is used as a palate cleanser to enjoy the next piece of sushi.

There are many famous sushi restaurants throughout Japan, such as Sukiyabashi Jiro and Sushi Dai, while Endo Sushi in Osaka and Izu in Kyoto are also recommended. The national chains “Sushiro,” “Kurazushi,” and “Hama-zushi” also make it easy to enjoy delicious sushi.

Drinks that go well with sushi include sake, beer, green tea, and shochu, each of which enhances the flavor of sushi. Sake, in particular, goes especially well with sushi, and we recommend enjoying those made at local sake breweries.

When visiting Japan, we encourage you to taste sushi and experience its history, culture, and regional characteristics. Through sushi, you will gain a deeper understanding of Japanese food culture and enrich your travel memories.