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Goin’ Japanesque!

Sasa-giri: A Traditional Craft of Leaf Cutting that Makes Sushi Shine

When you had Japanese sushi, have you ever come across a green leaf placed as decoration beside it? In fact, this leaf has a purpose of its own; not just so that the dish looks pretty. This article will explain the purpose as well as some works of art that were made by the amazing skills and knife work of the sushi chefs.


What is Baran-giri or Sasa-giri?

It is a partition of Haran (Aspidistra) or Kumazasa (Kuma bamboo leaf) placed in between sushi, sashimi, or to separate dishes in bento boxes. Nowadays, an artificial type of baran made of plastic is more often used. However, in the past, this was the perfect practice tool and a part of training for chefs and artisans to improve their skills with the knife.


The Purpose of Bamboo Crafts


  • Prevents mixing of flavors between different food ingredients
  • It adds variety in the color palate making the entire dish look more beautiful
  • It has an antibacterial effect and so is suited to place with raw fish


Types of Bamboo Crafts

The Top Three: Sekisho, The Bottom Three: Kesho zasa

There are several types of bamboo crafts depending on usage.

  • Ken zasa, Sekisho: This is placed vertically in between dishes. As one may guess from the term “sekisho” which means check point from the Edo Period, the word itself means border or partition.
  • Shiki zasa: This is laid underneath the food. Often times it is placed underneath hand-shaped sushi or an assortment of sashimi.
  • Kesho zasa: This is placed on top of the food. It is particularly used for celebration. Often times, designs of auspicious symbols such as the crane, tortoise or family crests are depicted.
  • Kazari mono: This is larger than those used for cooking and is considered more as a hobby or a work of art. It is like a media where craftsman show off their skill.


Kesho zasa: Crane and Mount Fuji

Kesho zasa: Tortoise and Mount Fuji,

Kazarimono: Nishiki goi (Carp),

Kazarimono: An Edo beauty,


Perhaps there were some of you who were curious about the usage and meaning of these bamboo crafts. If you happen to go to a traditional Japanese restaurant you are sure to see them; or sometimes even in bento boxes that you get at the conbini (convenience stores). If you do come across them, we hope you think about this article.

Related: Paper Cutout Kirie Artwork: A Collection of Awe Inspiring Craftsmanship

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