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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogSushi Day: Exploring the Rich Tradition of Japan’s Beloved Dish!

Sushi Day: Exploring the Rich Tradition of Japan’s Beloved Dish!

Anna AyvazyanAnna Ayvazyan
Published Time
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June 30, 2023
A large nigiri plate for sushi day.

People often enjoy sushi as a refreshing food during the summer. To honor this iconic dish, enthusiasts have designated a “sushi day.” Internationally, people celebrate it on June 18th; in Japan, it’s on November 1st.

Sushi has been a must-have in Japanese cuisine since the Edo period (1603-1868), but it took off in the West during the mid-twentieth century. Now, here’s the fun part—International Sushi Day!

It started making waves around 2009, and guess where? Yep, on good old Facebook. To emphasize, someone pitched the idea of celebrating it on June 18th, and enthusiasts excitedly jumped on board. And just like that, a new annual tradition was born!

Salmon maki sushi.
Maki sushi uses seaweed. Image via Shutterstock

Meanwhile, the Japanese Sushi Union created “Sushi Day” in Japan in 1961. They carefully selected November 1st as the date for the celebration, coinciding with the rice harvesting season. 

You see, this dish was only sometimes the superstar it is today. Keeping fish like tuna and salmon fresh without refrigeration was quite a challenge back then. So, the bright minds at the Sushi Union saw an opportunity to promote the dish to the masses. They used this special day as a platform to introduce and popularize it among the general public. And the rest, as they say, is delicious history!

How can I celebrate Sushi Day?

There are various ways to celebrate Sushi Day overseas and in Japan. Get ready to enjoy all types of sushi, including tempura! We will share some ideas you can do to celebrate this day with family and friends!

Make your own!

Although it may seem very difficult, this dish is effortless to make! While the Western version typically includes many ingredients (such as the California roll), the Japanese one is more straightforward.

Salmon nigiri sushi.
Nigiri sushi uses some of pieces of fish. Image via Shutterstock

In Japan, most dishes fall into the nigiri category. Nigiri specifically involves layering a small piece of fish, meat, or vegetables on a small mound of rice. Usually, the size is something you can eat in one bite! 

Asian stores, such as Daiso, sometimes have cheap rice rolling kits to help you roll the rice into a small mound. Therefore, if you feel creative, try to put a few different ingredients on the rice! 

Attend a cooking class!

Someone making sushi in a class.
Sushi classes are enjoyable. Image via Shutterstock

You can attend a cooking class if you don’t feel confident making your sushi! If you have a Japanese restaurant in town, ask them if they know of any classes you can attend. If you don’t have any Japanese restaurants in your town, look online – you can attend many remote classes. You may even find a teacher living in Japan if you’re lucky! 

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Throw a sushi party!

If you don’t have time to learn how to make sushi, you can order a set from your nearest Japanese restaurant and host a party! For a surprise, some restaurants may have a wasabi roulette set with extra wasabi in one piece! This activity can be a fun eating game to play with friends. 

A sushi bake casserole.
Sushi bake casseroles are popular in the US! Image via Grad Food.

Recently sushi bakes have also become popular in the States. If you love casseroles and fish, this will be a crowd-pleaser! The dish is highly customizable, so you can put whatever ingredients you want!

Go on a sushi crawl!

If you are lucky to live near several Japanese restaurants, going on a restaurant crawl can be fun. Many chefs have unique dishes which can be entertaining! If you go to an authentic Japanese restaurant, you may see the “omakase” option. This menu option means the chef’s choice; they serve the dishes they recommend – sometimes ones unavailable on their regular menu! 

How can I celebrate sushi day in Japan?

If you are in Japan on November 1st, you also experience Sushi Day! In Japan, many supermarkets typically sell large sets of different varieties. The most common sets sold are tuna, salmon, eel, and shrimp. Most sets have raw fish, but occasionally you can find sets that may have seared fish. 

A kaitenzushi restaurant.
Kaitenzushi restaurants use conveyor belts to serve sushi! Image via Shutterstock

Another place to enjoy this dish is in kaitenzushi (conveyor belt) restaurants. On November 1st, some conveyor belt restaurants will have dish discounts. Some may also have unique options not typically available on regular days. If you are wary of raw fish, conveyor restaurants will have more variety than supermarkets! 

Sushi Day is excellent for celebrating this iconic dish with family or friends in June or November! How do you plan on celebrating it? What is your favorite type? Let us know in the comments below!  

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