Japanese eat more sushi than any other culture in the world, according to research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The Japanese eat an average of nearly 300kg of sushi a year, a third of all the world’s fish, with the vast majority being produced in the country.
The researchers say the rise of sushi in Japan is a result of its relatively cheap labour, high quality and high nutritional value.
“There is a perception that sushi is something that is made in Japan,” says Dr Sato Masakazu, from Osaka University’s department of nutrition.
“It is the traditional Japanese food and the sushi is the same.”
Dr Masakazi’s team studied the nutritional value of the foods eaten by 1,500 Japanese people and compared it with the values of foods produced in Japan.
“They all have the same value.
The only difference is the quality,” he says.”
When we talk about sushi, the amount of rice and fish is quite small and the amount is also not that much.”
There are about 1.2 billion people in Japan, but only about 40,000 have the skills required to make sushi.
“The most important thing for sushi chefs is the preparation, the cleaning, the cooking and the serving.”
This is not easy,” he adds.”
You have to be able to understand the food in terms of its texture, and that is the most important ingredient for sushi.
“The study found that Japanese have more refined diets than other people in the West, but the Japanese also consume a lot of fruit, vegetables and whole grains.”
Japanese people are very aware of the nutrients they have, but they do not think of them in terms the same way as westerners do,” says Mr Hoshino.”
But there is also a difference in their attitude to eating.
“It is believed that in Japan sushi is eaten with a spoon, and when eaten with chopsticks.”
Sushi is eaten in this way because of the simplicity and taste,” he explains.”
A sushi chef may have to spend up to $200 for a single dish.
“That is the amount they spend on a single meal, which is quite an expensive thing to spend on.”
Sushi isn’t just a sushi tradition, it is also eaten in Japan as a side dish or an accompaniment to meals.
“So, it can be very filling and the rice and other ingredients are used to make the dish,” says Masakaze.
“If you have a sushi chef who makes the rice with chopstick and you add the fish to the dish, you can really enjoy the sushi.”