Why Sushi Rice is Called Shari

Sushi is a traditional Japanese dish that is as well-recognized as ramen.

It comes in various forms and styles, but the key ingredients are vinegared rice called “sumeshi (酢飯)” and sliced raw fish called “tane (タネ)” or “neta (ネタ)”.

As you may know, many special terms are used in sushi restaurants, and tane (neta) is among them, referring to sushi ingredients.

Original Meaning of Shari (シャリ)

Shari Sushi Rice

Sumeshi literally means vinegared rice, and the rice is called “shari (シャリ)” in the world of sushi.

Also known as “gin shari (銀シャリ)”, shari refers to white rice, represented as “舎利” using kanji (Chinese characters).

Shari (舎利), which derives from the word “śarīra” in Sanskrit, is originally a Buddhist term meaning ashes left after cremation. 

It is said shari came to mean white rice as, in ancient times, a Buddhist priest said rice is like the ashes of Buddha when he saw it.

(Reference Pages: Goo Dictionary, j-town.net )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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