Sushi doesn’t come from Japan
Prepare to be shocked. Not only did Italians not invent spaghetti, but the Japanese can’t lay claim to the invention of sushi.
Well, that’s not entirely true: they didn’t invent Sushi 1.0, something called Narezushi. Narezushi was introduced to Japan about 2000 years ago from the paddy fields around the Mekong river in Southeast Asia. Fish was fermented with salt and rice to keep it edible in the hot and humid climate, and when ready to be eaten, the protective rice casing was thrown away.
Over the next 1400 years, Japanese tastes changed toward wanting only semi-fermented fish, with rice. Namanare was the name of this evolution, and it involved partly raw fish, enclosed in vinegared rice (which sped up the fermenting process) and eaten ‘fresh’.
Finally, in the 19th century, Sushi 2.0 was born: rice wasn’t being used for fermentation anymore, but was vinegared and adorned with raw fish and vegetables, with Nigiri and Maki becoming hugely popular in Edo (an early name for Tokyo).
So, there you have it. The fast food that we know as sushi was actually quite slow to come about.