Chirashi: What is Chirashi?



It’s June, and it looks like Seattle is finally looking a lot more like Summer☀️🐚 It always takes a bit longer around here for the heat to start picking up, but when the sun is out, this city is just right if I should say so myself… Anyways, we’re back again with a new blog… This time we’ll be talking about Chirashi🌸


So, what is Chirashi anyways🤔?

Let’s begin with an analysis of the word. Chirashi (散らし). In Japanese, the word alone (if we’re not talking about the dish) means scatter. The dish is derived from that word, as there are many different ingredients scattered across the dish. The dish is usually family size, and is served in a style where everyone shares.

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History of Chirashi

Chirashi originates from around the Edo period, which is around the 1600s to 1800s. The story began with the government limiting its people from eating luxuriously due to hardships caused by natural disasters and economic hardships🍣🙅‍♀️ Despite these hardships, people still wanted to celebrate in order to raise their spirits. The loophole that the people used in order to get past this limitation was chirashi. People would basically flip the dish upside down and hide the fancy ingredients underneath the rice, so that they could celebrate without being caught🤫 In modern days, the fancy ingredients are beautifully scattered on the top layer, but back then, this was how they got past the ordinance.

When is Chirashi eaten?

Due to the origins of the dish, Chirashi is still eaten on days of celebration to this day. The most common day in which Chirashi is served is on March 3rd, which is Hina Matsuri, or girls day. Specifically, a common trend is to cut the carrots into the shape of cherry blossoms🌸 which aligns with the season of the holiday.

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How is it any different from Poke?

Well, the easiest way to grasp what Chirashi is like may be to compare it to Poke. We all know what Poke is, especially if you’re from around Seattle. But the origins of the two dishes are a bit different. For one, Poke comes from Hawaii 🏝. It usually comes with two types of protein, and several different sauces. On the other hand, Chirashi contains multiple ingredients that are individually flavored. They’re both based on raw fish and they’re both cold, but they aren’t exactly the same thing.

The meanings behind the ingredients.

We can save Poke for another episode — that aside, did you know that each of the ingredients of chirashi have meaning? Let’s take a look at some of them 👀

Shrimp – Shrimp, written in Japanese is 海老 🦐. The word consists of two parts, ocean and aging respectively. Put together, it reads ebi. Shrimp, which have bent backs symbolize old age due to their similarity to elderly people who also have curved backs.

Lotus root – Lotus root, known as Renkon in Japanese, have cylindrical holes that reach across the root. Because of this, they symbolize being able to see through a good future🔭

String beans – Beans (Mame) in Japanese has two meanings; the first being “beans”, and the second being “diligence”. The connotation that the word holds in this context is “to work diligently, so that you grow up to be strong and sturdy 🌱

Golden egg – The thin-cut eggs symbolize prosperity ✨

Carrot – Carrots symbolize stability due to its strong roots 🌳

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In part 2, I will share my grandma’s Chirashi recipe so stay tuned and make sure to join our Facebook group (>>>join) for the next live Chirashi event from one of our locations!!

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