The sushi shop can be an interesting language experience. Even the person who understands Japanese may be baffled when he first hears the words spoken by the sushi chef and his helpers, for they have their own jargon. The words heard when they are counting, for example, may even be unique to a particular shop. The following is a short selection of traditional terms.
01. agari: tea
Usually, ocha. (O)agari, signifying that a person has finished eating, comes from the language of pleasure quarters of long ago. Originally agari meant only the cup of tea served at the ende of the meal (the first cup was called odebana) but eventually came to mean tea whenever served.
02. nami no hana: salt
Usually, oshio. Nami no hana means „flowers of the waves“, a reference to the age when Japan relied on seawater as a source of salt.
03. gari: vinegar-pickled ginger root
Used when a very small whole fish becomes the topping for nigiri-zushi. E.g., tai (sea bream).
05. murasaki: soy sauce
06. shari: vinegard sushi rice
Cooked rice is usually gohan. Buddhists treasure tiny bits of bone traditionally said to be relics of Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha. Rice grains bear some resemblance to these pieces of bone, called Buddha shari from a Sanskrit word.
07. odori-ebi: „Dancing shrimp“
Shrimp served live.
Fish kept alive until shortly before time to serve.
09. otemoto: Chopsticks
A term used when one half of a fish fillet becomes the topping for nigiri-zushi. E.g., kohada (gizzard shad).