- Main lore areas
Gojo City, Yoshino area
- Main ingredients used
Rice, mackerel, persimmon leaves
- History/origin/related events
Kakinoha-zushi is pressed sushi made of salted mackerel wrapped in kakinoha (persimmon leaf) with vinegared rice.
There are various theories about the origin of Kakinoha Sushi. In the middle of the Edo period (1603-1867), fishermen in Kishu (Wakayama Prefecture), who had to pay a high annual tribute, would take summer mackerel caught in the Kumano Sea, salt them, and sell them over a mountain pass to villages along the Yoshino River in order to raise money. There is a theory that it became a festival food during the summer festivals held in the villages around that time, or that it was changed from a preserved food or a soldier's food.
Kakinoha sushi is made from astringent persimmon leaves, which are rich in tannin and have a bright green color. The vinegar in the rice and the persimmon leaves have an antiseptic effect, and by leaving the sushi overnight after it is made, the aroma of the persimmon leaves and the flavor of the mackerel are transferred to the vinegared rice, giving it a unique flavor and making it delicious.
Instead of persimmon leaves, "hakinoha-zushi" is made with magnolia leaves that grow wild in the mountains, and is made from around the time of the Boys' Festival through the month of July. The recipe is the same as that for kakinoha sushi, but the aroma of the magnolia leaves is transferred to the vinegared rice.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
In the Gojo and Yoshino areas, "Kakinoha Sushi" is made as a summer festival dish. In farming villages, this is the time of year when rice planting is finished and people can take a break, and children help with the preparation. Saba is an important fish as a food for special occasions, and has been served at festive occasions.
- How to eat
If the rice has become hard due to being too cold in the refrigerator, warm it slightly in a microwave oven to make it tastier.
In winter, it is delicious as "Seared Kakinoha Sushi". Wrapped in a persimmon leaf and roasted in a toaster oven for 3-4 minutes, it is ready to eat when the surface of the leaf is slightly charred.
Be careful not to overcook it, as it will burn the sushi rice and the ingredients.
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
Sushi is still made during festivals and other events, and is also served at restaurants. As a representative souvenir of Nara, it is sold at events in department stores nationwide and as ekiben (boxed lunches at train stations), and is widely popular.