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Look at the Amazing Variety! 10 Regional Sushi Across Japan

When we talk about sushi, the most standard type is those with cut slices of raw fish called sashimi on top of rice. But actually, there are a wide variety of regional sushi dishes all over Japan, which are made with specialty products local to the region or have distinct characteristics. This time, we will introduce ten unique styles of regional sushi. Photo:


1. Hatahata Zushi (Sailfin Sandfish Sushi)

ハタハタずし (Akita Prefecture)


Hatahata (Sailfin sandfish) is a fish caught around Akita Prefecture, and the sushi using this fish is called “Izushi”. Izushi is prepared by fermenting the mixture of cooked rice and vegetables with the use of malted rice. This type of fermented sushi is common in the areas that face the Sea of Japan such as the Tohoku region (Northeastern Japan) and Hokkaido.


2. Yaki Saba Zushi (Grilled Mackerel Sushi)

焼き鯖ずし (Fukui Prefecture)


Yaki Saba Zushi is a regional sushi for Fukui Prefecture, an area well known for its good mackerel. Sushi using grilled mackerel was invented in 2000 in a town called Mikuni-cho, and it has since become a regional specialty.


3. Shima Zushi (Island Sushi)

島寿司 (Hachijo-jima Island, Tokyo Prefecture)


Fish such as tuna, skipjack tuna, red snapper and amberjack are marinated with soy source first, and they are put on slightly sweet vinegar-seasoned rice. This sushi is distinct for using karashi mustard instead of wasabi horse radish.
Related: Hachijo-jima: Tokyo’s Paradise Island 45 Minutes from Haneda Airport


4. Funa Zushi (Crucian Carp Sushi)

鮒ずし (Shiga Prefecture)


This sushi uses a fresh water fish of Lake Biwa called “funa”. The fish is first pickled with salt, put on cooked rice, and left to ferment naturally. It has a distinct smell, which is not appealing for all. On the other hand, there are some who love this sushi and consider it the perfect pairing with Japanese sake.


5. Kaki-No-Ha-Zushi (Persimmon Leaf Sushi)

柿の葉ずし (Nara Prefecture)


This sushi uses persimmon tree leaves. It is made with sushi rice that is balled into bite sized pieces and topped with sliced mackerel or salmon marinated with vinegar. It is wrapped in persimmon leaves, which are considered to have an anti-bacterial qualities, then pressed.  


6. Saba-No-Bo-Zushi (Mackerel Log Sushi)

鯖の棒ずし (Kyoto Prefecture)


As Kyoto is far from the ocean, in the old days they sprinkled salt on mackerel at the sea port so that the fish wouldn’t spoil during the transportation. They say the mackerel was pickled just right by the time it arrived in Kyoto. Using this kind of pickled mackerel flavored with vinegar is this Saba-No-Bo-Zushi.


7. Tekone-Zushi (Hand Mixed Sushi)

手こねずし (Mie Prefecture)


This sushi is said to have its origin in fishermen’s cooking in the Shima Region. Sashimi of fish like tuna and skipjack tuna are marinated with soy sauce, and they are then mixed with cooked rice.


8. Mehari-Zushi (Sushi with Mixed Vegetable)

めはりずし (Wakayama Prefecture)


It is said that people started carrying this sushi with them when they went to work in the mountains or agricultural fields. Mustard leaves called takana are marinated in sauce. Its leaves and stems are then chopped into pieces and mixed into cooked rice. The rice mixture is shaped into bite sized sushi and wrapped in a leaf of takana.


9. Iwakuni-Zushi

岩国ずし (Yamaguchi Prefecture)


Flesh of raw fish is broken up into bits to be mixed into vinegar-seasoned sushi rice inside a wooden crate, Greens, lotus roots, shiitake mushrooms, Japanese omelet cut into thin ribbons, etc are topped on the rice mixture in layers. It is packed firm then, cut into bite size pieces. It is said to have been a preserved food ideal when preparing for battle.


10. Okayama-Bara-Zushi (Okayama Scattered Sushi)

岡山ばらずし (Okayama Prefecture)


This is a sushi that uses rice with vinegar and vegetables mixed in. It is topped with Japanese omelet cut into thin ribbons, more cooked vegetable, fish and shell fish. This sushi is often prepared for special occasions like harvest festivals. It is said that the type of sushi with cooked vegetable mixed in has originated from here.


Sushi generally contains raw fish and is perishable, so there are some dishes that can only be eaten locally. But other sushi that are less perishable are sold as gifts or souvenirs. So if you have the chance to visit different areas of Japan, how about giving these local sushi dishes a try?

5 Local Sushi to Try in the Stylish City of Kyoto

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About the author

I'm interested in general in all things related to culture and fine arts with a focus on movies, art, and design. I hope to introduce to many people all the different sides to Japan in regards to Japanese culture.

View all articles by KAWATA