Why did sushi become so popular in Japan?

Similar foods exist in parts of China and SE Asia, but it only really took off in Japan.

“By the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries Tokyo, then called Edo, had usurped Kyoto as the capital of Japan, becoming the largest, most populous city on earth in the process. A series of fires, however, threatened the future of the world’s first conurbation, and so open flames were banned in restaurants and the city’s burgeoning fast food industry was virtually wiped out overnight. To the rescue came sushi, which could be assembled without the need of a flame” Sushi and Beyond page 172

Sounds too convenient an explanation to really be true. Any other ideas?



  1. tudza said,

    March 20, 2011 at 8:14 am

    There were lots of different styles all over the place and for hundreds of years before this particular event. The story here explains only why a particular version of it might have become the most popular or well known in Japan, and the several references I’ve found on the history of sushi all fail to mention this fire story. Most mention the great earthquake and how it caused the spread of the Tokyo style.

  2. alexcase said,

    March 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Now that you mention that, I do remember reading something about the style spreading outside Edo due to the fire. That would mean that he’d actually got the date of its spread in popularity inside Edo wrong, which given the number of inaccuracies in that book wouldn’t surprise me at all. In fact, I can quite believe that he heard two different stories and got them mixed up!

  3. alexcase said,

    April 14, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Yet another explanation:

    “Another suggests that, in the aftermath of a large 1657 fire that ravaged Edo, emergency food served to displaced citizens were rice balls topped with a variety of ingredients”

    • oliviah said,

      April 26, 2012 at 5:18 am

      why is sushi so popular in japan ????? i kneed this for an assigment

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