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How To Properly Eat Sushi

Walking Tours in Tokyo
(Image by Miki Yoshihito | Flickr)

Let's face it - whether you're in Japan to visit the grand Senso-ji temple, or maybe to have a blast at Tokyo Disneyland, or to simply stroll at Ueno Park, chances are you'll have sushi for lunch or maybe dinner. These carefully hand-mound balls of rice topped with raw fish have definitely hit superstar level as sushi has now become widely popular across the globe. Other countries have several variations on this simple dish but when you're in the birth place of sushi, it pays to go back to the basics. While most restaurants won't eject you for not doing it"properly", these few tips and tricks will help you appreciate the overall experience of eating sushi. Oishi!

You can use your hands

While it is common to eat sushi with your chopsticks, tradition says that it's actually okay to eat sushi with your hands. Use your thumb and index finger to carefully pick the sushi up, making sure it's intact. After all the chefs have carefully prepared the sushi with their hands as to make sure that you get to eat it in its most perfect form. Sushi, after all, is their art.

Eat it in one bite

Most people are guilty of biting the sushi in half, myself included. I learned that eating the sushi in half may offend the chef since he took his time to perfectly craft it in one piece. Eating the sushi in one bite also allows you to fully experience the perfect balance of the well-seasoned rice and rich raw fish. 

Dipping Do's and Dont

Do not go overboard with the soy sauce - it is the equivalent of pouring steak sauce all over your sumptuous steak. Do dip the sushi lightly in soy sauce. Also, do not dip the rice part of the sushi.  Do this instead: flip the sushi downwards and dip the sushi with the fish down.

Careful with the wasabi! 

Mixing the wasabi with the soy sauce is a no-no! Each sushi already has a dab of wasabi inside but if you still want that green kick, carefully dab a small amount onto the sushi before dipping it in the soy sauce. (Extra tip: ate too much wasabi? Relieve the burn by rapidly breathing through the nose instead of the mouth. Be careful next time!)

Eat ginger in-between pieces

See those pink thin slices at the side? Those are called gari, also known as sushi ginger. These are thinly-sliced ginger meant to cleanse your palate in between eating pieces of sushi. The sharp taste of the pickled ginger gives your tongue a fresh start to help you appreciate the rich taste of the next raw fish. 

Now that you know the basics to eating sushi, there is one more thing that you should remember - and that is to simply enjoy the dish. Remember that these are only tips to enhance your overall sushi experience in the Land of the Rising Sun; if you've truly enjoyed eating the simple art that is sushi, then you have already succeeded in eating it "properly". 


Tokyo Localized provides visitors and travellers to Tokyo with a unique perspective of this great city, what makes us unique is that our tour guides live and work in Tokyo, have a passion for this city and love meeting and welcoming new faces. Find out more about our Unique Day and Night Tours of Tokyo - we can't wait to meet you!


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