Why Sushi May Not Have Originated In Japan

It is a popular belief that sushi originated in Japan. Maybe this is because Japan has over 250,000 restaurants serving the delicacy (via Qaz Japan), or perhaps because it was the first country to serve it as a complete dish, according to PBS. Be that as it may, there is evidence indicating that sushi may have originated elsewhere.

According to CNN, the earliest versions of sushi came in a fermented and cured state, and the first time it was served fresh was in the 1820s. At this point, it was still only street food.

The next stage of evolution for this seafood occurred in 1923, thanks to a massive earthquake that rattled Tokyo. The natural disaster caused widespread destruction and killed many. It even had an impact on property prices, driving them down. This may have allowed sushi chefs (who usually operated outdoors) to serve sushi from brick-and-mortar restaurants, per Thrillist. It was at this point in history that sushi made its entry into restaurants. After that, what was considered a "Tokyo-centric dish" proliferated, not only to the rest of Japan but to Asia and further in its fresh new form, per Qaz Japan.

Where did sushi originate

Sushi evolved from narezushi, which was fish fermented and preserved in rice, per Japan Talk. Narezushi is fermented through the process of lacto-fermentation, which relies on the same food-safe bacteria in sauerkraut, yogurt, and pickling processes. 

Narezushi hails from the regions along the Mekong River in Southeast Asia, per The Diplomat. This implies that early sushi could have originated in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, or even China (as these countries all have access to the river). 

Narezushi appears in the Chinese dictionaries of the 2nd century, per Let's Chinese, and it was a convenient wartime Chinese food. According to PBS, historical accounts suggest that it only arrived in Japan in the 9th century. As such, while Japan is where sushi as we know it evolved to what it is today, it is likely that China is where it originated.