“Nishin-zushi” is loved as a traditional food during New Year at Northern part of Gujo-shi, Yamato and Shirotori. Nishin-zushi is made by soaking Nishin (Herring), radish, carrot, rice, koji and salt for a long time and lactic fermented. It is a kind of Nare-zushi (Fermented sushi).

The most popular sushi is Nigiri-zushi (Hand-shaped sushi), Maki-zushi (Rolled sushi), Chirashi-zushi (Sushi in a bowl) and Inari-zushi (Sushi in deep-fried bean curd) using vinegar for a short time. Even we are interested in fermented food, we seldom see Nare-zushi in common life.

When I was researching about fermented food in Gujo, once I know about Nishin-zushi, I was fascinated and wanted to try them immediately. When I am talking with a local about it, it is a home cooking and only for New Year, I found that maybe it is difficult to find. But the local told me I can find Nishin-zushi at “Soba-kobo Gensuke-san” at Roadside Station Seiryu-no-sato Shirotori. So we decided to visit there.

Visiting and seeing the preparation of “Nishin-zushi” at “Soba-kobo Gensuke-san”!

Visiting and seeing the preparation of “Nishin-zushi” at “Soba-kobo Gensuke-san”!

Preserved food Nishin-zushi01

The day we visit Soba-kobo Gensuke-san is 23th December, actually it is before New Year. So, we are able to visit and see how they prepare for Nishin-zushi.

Soba-kobo Gensuke-san is located at Roadside Station Seiryu-no-sato Shirotori which is around 5 minutes’ drive from Shirotori West Interchange. You can find Information center, rest place, restaurant and souvenir shop, all attractiveness of Gujo.
Soba-kobo Gensuke-san uses buckwheat grown in Shirotori. You can try soba which is freshly grounded and freshly made and also try to make soba if you make reservation in advance.

Preserved food Nishin-zushi02

Winter limited menu Nishin-zushi is our main target this time. When we enter the shop, energetic ladies smile and welcome us. “You want to see how we prepare? Let get started!” They move so quickly that make me feel very comfortable.

Preserved food Nishin-zushi03

“Two things you need to prepare beforehand. Soaking radish and carrot in salt water and soaking Nishin in koji. Putting radish and carrot soaking for 2 days makes it looks better. Red and white bring good fortune. ”

Preserved food Nishin-zushi04

“Extra water comes out after soaking in salt water. Drain it well or Nishin-zushi will become sourer.”

Preserved food Nishin-zushi05

“When you are soaking the radish and carrot, you can start soaking Nishin too. As Nishin is hard and dry, you need to put it into water with koji. When it softened, mix it with 60℃ hard rice with koji. Put cut Nishin inside, mix well and put into the fridge for one night. The smell of fish will be gone.”

“This is my way of making Nishin-zushi. Many people do not Nishin soaking. They put cut radish, carrot and Nishin into rice and koji only. But my family is doing in my way. When we tried several times and found the smell of fish can be erased by doing this, my family continues to make it this way.” I am pleased that they are improving the tradition. Koji they used is hand-made by local ladies. You can see they are making with all their hearts.

“Next, put the Nishin into the fridge for one night and mix well with soaked radish and carrot.”

Preserved food Nishin-zushi06

“After mixing, wait for 4 days and it will be done! We used to soak for 20 days in the past, but now we soaked Nishin beforehand, so you need less time. Of course, you can adjust the time according to what flavor you like. It will become sweet if you soak in shorter time and sourer if longer time. I like to soak around 4 days, but some like sourer.”

Preserved food Nishin-zushi07

Nishin-zushi is slopped when it is served. Rice together with koji, radish, carrot and Nishin can be eaten. As normal sushi is made from fish and rice with vinegar, it is fresh to me.

But, why is Nishin? Gujo is surrounded by mountains so you cannot catch Nishin from the sea. We asked one of the ladies about this.
“It is far from the sea. It is more difficult to transport far away because of the deep snow in winter. So, people in Gujo used to be self-sufficient. People could not get fresh fish in the past. They could only have dried “Migaki-Nishin (Dried herring)”. Nishin was popular and the price was reasonable in old times so people ate them as a main protein source throughout the year. Nishin-zushi was a feast during New year. However, nowadays, you can buy everything easily. Fewer people make this. The taste will change quickly so no one keeps on making it.”
Knowing the landform the history of this region affected the birth of Nishin-zushi makes me feel excited.

You can try Nishin-zushi here in soba-kobo Gensuke-san in winter. They provide eat-in and take-out. If you think you can try it whenever you go, actually it is not. We come twice, but all sold out. It is very popular among the locals too.
However, this makes me feel more excited! Hope I can try it next winter!

Preserved food Nishin-zushi01 Preserved food Nishin-zushi03 Preserved food Nishin-zushi05 Preserved food Nishin-zushi07
Preserved food Nishin-zushi02 Preserved food Nishin-zushi04 Preserved food Nishin-zushi06


A unit, to promote the food culture in Japan leading to the future in the next 100 years, is formed by husband “A farmer and a maltster” facing with the blessings of nature and wife “A soy sauce sommelier and designer”. They aim to introduce Japanese food culture with fermented food supported by agriculture, fisheries and forestry.

Husband : Mr Takashi Miyamoto

He started a new koji venture in the Koji industry. He uses pesticide-free and chemical-free fertilizers in preparing miso. He was fascinated by the world of fermentation and started running a Koji shop in Nishihazu-cho, Nishio-shi, Aichi-ken. He also holds a Miso and Soysauce Study Circle for more than 1000 people a year.

Wife : Ms Keiko Kuroshima(Miyamoto)

A soy sauce, olive oil sommelier & designer. She was born in the soy sauce town of Shodoshima Island and grew up with the brewers. Based in Shodoshima, she continues to visit brewers nationwide and continues to connect people and things through design, writing, and recipe making. She published “Soy Sauce Book” from Genko Publishing.

Photographs by miyamoto