Maki: Meanings of Temaki and Uramaki

Maki (巻/巻き), as previously mentioned in this article, is the term for “roll” or “wind” in English, seen in many Japanese words, including Temaki (手巻き) and Uramaki (裏巻き). 

Temaki and Uramaki are technical terms often used in Sushi (寿司), but their usage is not limited to food. So first, let’s look them up in a Japanese dictionary to ensure their meaning.

Meaning of Temaki (手巻き)

Temakizushi or Temaki Sushi

According to Goo’s Japanese dictionary, Temaki or 手巻(き) has two meanings.

  1. Rolling or winding up manually without using machines or tools
  2. Making by rolling or winding using hands 

From this, you can find Temaki itself irrelevant to Sushi.

Temaki Dokei or Kaichu Dokei

It may be Temaki Dokei (手巻き時計: manual winding watch/clock) or Temaki Tabacco (手巻きタバコ: hand-rolled cigarette). So for Sushi, you should say Temakizushi (手巻き寿司). 

Meaning of Uramaki (裏巻き)

Next, according to Kotobank‘s Japanese-language dictionary, Uramaki or 裏巻 originally refers to 

  • the outer part of a rolled-up scroll.

Makimono Scroll

In the word Uramaki, Ura (裏) means backside, and in everyday life, Uramaki usually stands for a reverse roll. 

But as with Temaki, the reverse roll may be something other than Sushi (Ex. Uramaki Tabacco, Uramaki Roll Cake). So for the dish, you should say Uramakizushi (裏巻き寿司).

Uramakizushi or Uramaki Sushi


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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