Variation of sushi

Although it is not widely known, there are many variations of sushi (see column) because sushi has a long history in Japan. Here you will learn two most common variations: Thin roll (Hoso-maki) and inside-out roll (Ura-maki or Californian roll).

Thin roll (Hoso-maki)

This is called “thin” roll because thicker rolls called “Futo-maki” exist (see column). Here we used cucumber as an ingredient, but tuna is also common for thin rolls.

In Japanese cucumber roll is called “Kappa-maki”. “Kappa” is an imaginary creature found in traditional Japanese folklore (it looks a little bit like “Ninja Turtles”). Cucumber roll is named after this creature because they are known to favor cucumbers. 


Nare-sushi (Fermented sushi)

Nare-sushi is considered an origin of today’s sushi. Fish is stored with rice and fish and fermented for a year. Nare-sushi was probably invented to preserve fish because there was no refrigerator back then, which is not seasoned with vinegar like today’s sushi, but develops the natural sourness from fermentation process of lactic acid. This is the original style of sushi.

Oshi-sushi (Pressed sushi)

After vinegar became widely used for daily cooking, quick-style sushi which is seasoned with vinegar instead of fermentation was invented. Oshi-sushi is a type of sushi which sushi rice and other ingredients are compressed in a box-shape mold. Not like “Nigiri-sushi” often eaten in a restaurant, Oshi-sushi is usually served as a lunch box to eat outside.

Maki-sushi (Rolled sushi)

Futo-maki (thick-roll)

Hoso-maki (thin-roll)

“Maki” literally means “roll” in Japanese. Maki-sushi was invented after Oshi-sushi. Today types of rolled sushi wrapped with “Nori” seaweed (called “Nori-maki”) are widely spread, but at the beginning there used to be more variations such as wrapped with thin egg omelet or “Wakame” seaweed. Today’s Nori-maki also have some variations in size: Futo-maki (thick-roll), Chu-maki (middle-size-roll) and Hoso-maki (thin-roll).

Temaki-sushi (Hand-roll sushi)

A type of “Maki-sushi”, but hand-rolled without using a rolling mat. It is a popular home dish as well.

Gunkan-maki (Battleship roll)

Gunkan means a battleship in Japanese. It is names after the oval-shape of sushi wrapped with nori and topped with soft toppings, which look like a battleship.

Temari-sushi (Hand-ball sushi)

A bite-size sushi ball which was invented in Kyoto. Both seafood and vegetables are commonly used as a topping. As the rice is formed a ball-shape using a cling film (plastic film) or special mold, the texture of rice ball is usually more firm than soft rice ball of Nigiri-sushi. Some say, the bite-size shape of Temari-sushi is invented to enable Geisha or Maiko (apprentice geisha) to eat them without ruining their beautiful lipstick.

Chirashi-sushi (Scattered sushi)

It is a popular dish for traditional festive events in Japan. Colorful ingredients from prawns, egg, vegetables to shiitake mushroom are beautifully topped on the sushi rice. It is usually served at home. Each ingredient has a specific meaning and ingredients differs in a region by region. It is also called by various names in different regions such as Bara-sushi, Gomoku-sushi, Gomoku-chirashi, etc.


It is a sushi wrapped with deep-fried tofu pouch. The tofu pouch is simmered in a soy sauce and sugar. The sushi rice inside of the tofu pouch can be plain or mixed with some cooked ingredients. This sushi is named after the god “Inari” because of the belief that foxes are sacred to the god and deep-fried tofu is their favorite.

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