The sushi commonly known around the world today is a combination of fresh raw fish, and cooked rice which is seasoned with vinegar. However, this is only a single variation within many other types of sushi that exist in Japan. This particular type of sushi is a rather modern Japanese cuisine initially created by the Edo (old name for Tokyo) fast food businesses during the 1820’s. The Edomaesushi, or Edomeaezushi (please refer to: “What is Zushi?“) directly translates to “Edo front”, and literally translates to Edo style. For an image please see: Sushi Stand of the Old Days.
The Edo style sushi was a product of the booming Edo culture when more and more commoners were allowed to hold businesses of their own. Other famous fast foods dating back to the Edoperiod (1603- 1868) are edomae tempura, edomae soba, and edomae unagi. The Edo people were known for their busy lifestyle and lack of patience so therefore many fast food businesses became successful. Edo style cuisine are known to be saltier and sweeter compared to other cuisines in Japan.
As with other types of sushi, the Edo style sushi had a lot of unique characteristics that were eventually replaced by newer ideas and methods over the next two centuries. As refrigeration technology improved, the Edo style sushi no longer became a local specialty for a city close to fishing harbors (such as Edo), and expanded to other regions of Japan, and eventually overseas. Initially, all the neta or the main ingredients were local to the Tokyo bay, such as tuna, bonito,halibut, sea eel, and shellfish; hence the name Edomae was given to this style of sushi. Althoughsashimi, or raw fish was consumed in Japan for centuries, it was the first time it was combined into one entity with Japan’s major staple, rice. In the early days, there faced many obstacles in how to sell Edo style sushi on the streets, since raw fish spoils quickly, and it was only consumed immediately after the fish was caught.