top of page

Kawaii & Oishii! Artistic “Kazari-zushi” from Japan!

Updated: Apr 26, 2022

↑ "Kazari Maki-zushi," or Deco Rolls, known as the local fare of Chiba Pref. near Tokyo with Kawaii designs, surely make everyone smile! ( Host a party with Vegetable Nigiri and bite-size Temari-zushi! Hello from Japan Culinary Institute, and welcome to JCI's blog for those looking for an opportunity to learn about Japanese cuisine and culture in Japan! In the world of Washoku, Japanese people use their talent and artistic sense to create beautiful dishes. One of the best examples of this is the Kazari(decorative) sushi introduced in this article. In this article, we showcase a variety of Kazari-zushi, including decorative maki(rolls), ball-shaped Temari-zushi, and vegetable nigiri. We are sure that you will want to make it, too. At JCI, you can learn how to make this artistic and creative sushi! Table of Contents 1. "Deco Rolls(Kazari Maki-zushi)" 2. "Vegetable Nigiri(Yasai-zushi)" 3. "Deco Sushi Balls(Temari-zushi)" 4. Summary

1. "Deco Rolls (Kazari Maki-zushi)"

↑Deco Rolls with plum and rose and traditional Japanese design patterns.

Sushi, always popular among the Japanese, has won fans worldwide. For most people, sushi brings to mind a bite-size mound of vinegared rice topped by a slice of sashimi or some other ingredient called Nigiri, or Maki-zushi, a type of sushi roll wrapped in nori (dried seaweed).

We want to showcase a popular variation these days called Kazari Maki-zushi, Deco(=Decorative) Rolls, sushi rolls formed so that the cross-section of the roll reveals delightful patterns of flowers and animals and even popular anime characters. So kawaii & colorful, they are perfect for SNS postings.

↑Shikai-maki is a roll of four seas in the shape of waves coming in from all directions. The mosaic pattern of this traditional Japanese design is modern and stylish. The key to a beautiful finish is to fold the four corners of the cucumber tightly, using the cucumber's corners.

↑Make a glamorous fancy bento box with some flower Deco Rolls!

A basic Deco Roll is made by spreading vinegared sushi rice on a nori sheet, adding various ingredients, and rolling the whole into a cylinder shape using a bamboo mat. A Deco Roll is essentially a large roll containing several smaller rolls of carefully selected ingredients and sometimes colored rice. The important thing is to place these parts strategically so that when the roll is formed and cut, the cross-section will have the desired pattern.

Cutting Deco Roll to reveal the cross-section pattern is always an exciting moment. Cutting them into bite-size pieces with a knife wet with a small amount of vinegar added helps keep clean cross-sections.

↑The cute panda face is a thick roll of white sushi rice wrapped around two thin black rolls that serve as eyes. Ears are added with two thin black rolls.

↑The most ingenious part is to color the sushi rice with chopped vegetables or furikake (rice sprinkles) or find ingredients that match the color and shape of what you want to make!

↑The penguin's beak is made of an omelet. You can substitute cheese. For the eyes, use boiled spinach or pickled greens that have been bundled into long, thin strips. Black sesame seeds are added to the sushi rice for the black parts. All you need to make Deco Rolls is some imagination and a playful spirit. Let’s give it a try at JCI!

2."Deco Sushi Balls(Temari-zushi)"

↑Gorgeous Temari-zushi with Salmon, Tuna, Shrimp, and shredded egg omelet!

Following the Deco Rolls, we introduce the ball-shaped Temari-sushi. This type is recommended because it is more straightforward than the Deco Rolls.

Celebrate happy occasions with these colorful ball-shaped Temari-zushi! Easily the prettiest sushi you can make at home. They make the perfect sushi to serve if you’re hosting a party or potluck.

Temari-zushi is the cutest and kawaii sushi you can easily make at home. A traditional Japanese embroidered ball for girls is adorned with various colorful toppings to depict Temari(photo below), which means "handball" in English.

↑Beautiful Temari with delicate embroidery patterns created by beautifully colored silk threads.

↑From raw fish to assorted vegetables, you can work with an array of ingredients for Temari-zushi.

Let me explain how to make Temari-zushi.

Select the sashimi-grade seafood like salmon, tuna, and Tai (sea bream) if you love raw fish. If you aren't a big fan of raw fish, use boiled shrimp, smoked salmon, boiled crab, grilled meat, or ham.

You can make Temari Sushi with your favorite vegetables for vegetarians or vegans. They can be fresh, grilled, or roasted.

You can also layer the ingredients with thinly sliced cucumber, avocado, and herbs to make the sushi more colorful. If you have cookie cutters in your kitchen, please use them!

Decorate Temari Sushi with a colorful garnish that pops, such as ikura (salmon roe), flower-shaped carrots, nori (seaweed) strips, thinly sliced lemon, chives, or sprouts.

Unlike authentic nigiri or sushi rolls, you don't need any practice or expert skill to make Temari Sushi. The sushi balls will naturally form an excellent round shape with the help of plastic wrap. You don't even have to worry about getting your hands sticky.

↑Sushi rice balls yellowed with egg soroboro(finely-scrambled egg) and nicely accented with salted cherry blossoms. The dish is full of ideas, such as star-shaped okra slices, thin cucumber ribbons, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

↑Eel, sea bream sashimi, salmon roe, salted cherry blossoms, sliced cucumber, etc., topped with red sushi rice with red azuki beans. These give you some ideas!

3. "Vegetable Nigiri(Yasai-zushi)"

↑ Colorful & healthy vegetable sushi with beets, cucumbers, pea pods, yellow peppers, and more!

Both Deco-rolls and Temari-zushi can be made into gorgeous-looking vegetarian or vegan sushi by using colorful vegetables, herbs, beans, and other plant-oriented ingredients.

Vegetable Nigiri is probably the easiest to make at home if you like to keep it simple. Make some sushi rice, form it into little cylinders(or balls) with your hands, and top it with seasoned veggies. If you mind sushi rice sticking onto your hands, use plastic films when you handle rice.

↑ Vegetable Temari-zushi daintily decorated with Japanese pepper leaves, edamame, slices of avocado, cucumber, radish, and thin strips of nori seaweed.

↑ Vegetable Nigiri called Inaka-zushi from Kochi Prefecture in the Shikoku region. (

Vegetable sushi, handed down as a traditional local dish, should also be introduced. "Inaka-zushi" from Kochi Prefecture in the Shikoku region is a local sushi dish that uses vegetable toppings. It is a traditional event food in mountainous areas where fresh fish is not available. Locals initially made it from ingredients found in the mountains when kombu and nori were expensive and hard to find. Sushi has been served at weddings, funerals, festivals, and in lunchboxes for picnics and has been enjoyed by people of all ages, from children to the elderly.

↑From left to right: Temari-zushi with Sushi rice mixed with red rice, topped with sliced cheese, and seared. In the middle is vinegared myoga(Japanese ginger shoots), and on the right, Temari-zushi topped with boiled nanohana, canola flowers, and mitsuba(Japanese herb similar to Italian celery).

The vinegar is made from citrus fruits such as yuzu, a local specialty, and the slightly tart sushi rice has a refreshing and elegant taste. The ingredients on top include turnips marinated in sweet vinegar, myoga ( Japanese ginger shoots), and shiitake mushrooms seasoned with soy sauce and sugar and simmered. The dish is seasoned with vegetables and wild vegetables available according to the season.

4. Summary

↑ Temari-zushi looks like an assortment of dainty confections. Use your ideas and aesthetics to make some!

First of all, Japanese people love sushi. That is for sure!

We also like high-end sushi made with fresh seafood, but that is a special meal, not something to be cooked and eaten at home every day.

But Deco-zushi, which you can make by using inexpensive ingredients found in the home kitchen, is easy and fun to make with children or friends and is sure to be delicious and appreciated when eaten.

It will be the centerpiece of your party table.

Which type of sushi decoration would you like to master?

Do you have a design or character you would like to make?

Just thinking about what you will make is enough to get you excited!

There are certain tricks to making Deco-zushi beautiful and colorful, such as the assortment of ingredients, preparation, and how to roll and shape the sushi.

Why don't you learn such exclusive techniques at JCI?

To learn about Washoku is to learn about Japanese culture, aesthetics, and artistry.

At JCI, we hope you'll join us in creating Deco-zushi and vegetable sushi with your aesthetic flair!

Why don't you join us to master Japanese cuisine together at JCI?

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page