||Sushi is probably the best-known of Japanese foods the world over. The term usually conjures up images of nigiri-zushi, small blocks of vinegared rice topped with slices of raw fish, but actually the one-bite nigiri-zushi is just one form of sushi that happens to date back to the Edo period (16031867) when it was the fast-food of choice among the common people. There are other kinds of sushi, though, with regional variations, and chirashi-zushi is one of these.
With chirashi-zushi, the ingredients are either scattered atop or mixed in with vinegared rice served in a large wooden tub-shaped container or box from which everyone helps themselves. Ingredients can vary with the region and include raw fish, egg, bamboo sprouts, shiitake mushrooms, green beans, and just about any vegetable that may be a local specialty.
The vinegared white rice and varicolored ingredients make for a colorful dish that is also nutritious and will keep for some time. This has made chirashi-zushi a favorite food for picnics and occasions of celebration. According to a 1997 survey by NHK, Japans national broadcaster, chirashi-zushi ranks as the second-favorite food of the Japanese people.