Japan Information  Japanese Food Culture 4 Sashimi

What is sashimi?

Sashimi is a Japanese dish in which ingredients such as fish and shellfish are cut into small pieces without being heated, seasoned with soy sauce and other seasonings, and eaten. It is also called "tsukuri" or "otsukuri.

Sashimi is a dish in which the ingredients themselves are savored, and it is important to prepare fresh and tasty seasonal ingredients.


How to cut to make the best use of the material is also important, and the cutting method and serving are done according to the material using a special sashimi knife .


Sashimi is served with a vegetable or seaweed called “tsuma”. Tsuma is also beautifully cut and served with the sashimi and eaten together. Tsuma are often raw radish or wakame seaweed.


Among the tsuma, those that give particular flavor are called yakumi. In addition to wasabi, other condiments for sashimi include ginger, plum, mustard, and many others.


History of sashimi


Sashimi is originally a primitive dish, and it is highly possible that raw fish food itself occurs naturally all over the world.

Sashimi first appeared in literature in 1399.

Before the spread of soy sauce, it was eaten with ginger vinegar, mustard vinegar, and roasted sake (shavings, umeboshi, sake, water, and boiled down).


The origin of sashimi is Tokyo

The old name for Tokyo was Edo.

Sashimi as a dish blossomed all at once in the Edo period ( 1600-1868 ) in Edo (now Tokyo). In the first place, it is difficult to obtain fresh fish and shellfish except for freshwater fish such as carp in Kyoto, so in Edo where you can get abundant fresh fish and shellfish (so-called “Edomae”), dishes requiring fresh seafood such as sashimi developed.


Another reason is that "soy sauce" has become easier to obtain as a seasoning.

In the middle of the Edo period, dark soy sauce that suppresses the fishy smell of raw fish began to be mass-produced in Noda near Edo. There is a culture of eating raw fish outside Japan, but it is limited to cooking methods of specific types of fish.

The custom of eating a wide variety of seafood raw as sashimi, which was born in Edo during the Edo period, was made possible by soy sauce, a seasoning that goes extremely well with raw fish.


The sources of What is Sashimi, History and Origin: Wikipedia


How to eat sashimi

Put soy sauce in a small dish and dip the sashimi in it before eating. Put wasabi or ginger in a small dish and dip the sashimi in it before eating. Or, you can taste the wasabi more clearly if you eat the sashimi with wasabi on top and then dip it in soy sauce.


It is also customary to add hojiso (shiso) and chrysanthemum flowers, which are condiments served with sashimi, to soy sauce. There is a reason why these are used as condiments.


Hojiso is an ear of shiso flower with unripe fruits.

Take it in the palm of your hand and pat it once to release the aroma of shiso. It will remove the fishy smell of the sashimi.


The reason why chrysanthemum flowers are attached to sashimi is because refrigeration techniques were not developed in the past, and chrysanthemum flowers, which have a sterilizing effect, were eaten together with sashimi to prevent food poisoning.

Nowadays, with Japan's well-developed refrigeration system, sashimi is fresh and there is no need to worry about food poisoning, but when chrysanthemum petals are floated in soy sauce, the brown color of the soy sauce and the yellow color of the chrysanthemum flower make a beautiful coloring.


When I tell this story to foreigners, they say, "I can understand the delicacy of Japanese people from sashimi”.


Introduction of Japanese sashimi


Sashimi set meal Futatsushima Kanko Hotel.


It is a sashimi set meal in the boat. This is for one person.


Assorted sashimi



This is the squid that was swimming in the tank earlier. The squid is transparent, which is a sign that it is fresh.

Kagurazaka Ika Center , Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo.



The bonito caught in April and May is called hatsugatsuo. 

In Edo (present-day Tokyo), it was “iki” to eat the first bonito of the season, and the price of a bonito was equivalent to about two weeks of a carpenter's salary. It was considered chic (“iki”) to eat it even if it was expensive.

During the Edo period (1600-1868), bonito was eaten with Japanese mustard. Since refrigeration technology was not developed in those days, the sterilizing effect of Japanese mustard was used to prevent food poisoning.


Bonito is often eaten with ginger in the Tokyo area, but in some regions, it is customary to eat it with grated garlic or thinly sliced garlic.



Sashimi of kawahagi.

Kawahagi's liver dissolved in soy sauce is called liver soy sauce. Sashimi is eaten by dipping it in liver soy sauce.

Futatsushima Kanko Hotel.


Sashimi of shirauo.


Sashimi of noresore.

"Noresore" is a fry of conger eel. Due to the very low distribution volume, it can only be eaten when good luck overlaps.


Sashimi of sea urchin.


Raw sea urchin is stuffed in the shell of a northern surf clam and steamed. Steaming increases the sweetness of the sea urchin.

It is a local dish of the Pacific coast near Ibaraki prefecture-Fukushima prefecture-Miyagi prefecture.


Sashimi of blowfish. Fugu sashimi is sliced so thin that you can see the pattern on the plate.

Among the blowfish, torafugu is considered to be a luxury item.


Parboiling of blowfish.

Put the blowfish in boiling water for a short time, cool it with ice water, and then cut it.

By cooking, the sweetness of blowfish increases.


Parboiling of hamo

There is no sashimi of hamo (“conger eel”). Since the blood of the hamo has toxic components and is detoxified by heating, it is boiled and eaten.



Namagaki (Raw oyster)


I often eat it with ponzu sauce.

There are various types of oysters depending on the season.

Please be careful if you are allergic to oysters.


Left: Tai, Center: Akagai, Right: Assorted tuna sashimi.


Sashimi of sea squirt.


All Japanese people love tuna!

This is nakaochi, a tuna rib.

Nakaochi is the meat attached to the bone and scraped off with a spoon.

The above two pictures were taken on different days. However, the heaping condition was the same.

It may be easier to understand how heaps are compared to the size of your hand.


I see that many Westerners like salmon more than tuna. The reason is that there is a difference in yield, and it seems that salmon is easily available and eaten in Europe and the United States.


This is not sashimi.

Everyone loves tuna.

It is a steak of the tail part of tuna.

You can see that tuna is eaten in Japan by heating its internal organs and salting it, and it is said that tuna has only bones to throw away.


It is a sashimi knife. Another name is Yanagiha Knife. It is characterized by being long.

It is called "yanagiha (willow leaf) knife" because it is elongated like a willow leaf.

It's long, so it's difficult for amateurs to use.

Itamae's (chef’s) technique to master this knife is wonderful.



Japanese Food Culture 4, we introduced sashimi.

Generally, in Japan, it is often called "osashimi".


The "osashimi" introduced on this page is not always eaten when you come to Japan. As you know, fish also have a season.


There are many itamae who have a policy of only serving the freshest and best fish at their restaurants.

It is these chefs who maintain the trust and tradition of sashimi, which is a part of Japanese food culture.