執筆 上野陽子
2011/10 Up

第4回 寿司とお作法(その2)
Vol.4 Sushi and How to Enjoy It

What does oaiso mean at a
sushi restaurant?

符丁 漢字表記 意味
シャリ (舎利) 酢飯
ナミダ/サビ (涙) ワサビ
ムラサキ (紫) しょうゆ
ツメ (詰め) 甘塩辛い煮汁
ギョク (玉) 玉子焼き
クサ (草) のり
オテモト (お手元)
オテショウ (お手塩) しょうゆ皿


What is “purple” at a sushi restaurant?

There are many specific words used at sushi restaurants, such as "shari" for rice, "agari" for tea, and so on. Some of them are commonly used among customers; however, some are still only used by sushi chefs and waiters.
Here is a question for you: What does "purple" mean? It means "soy sauce." Looking at the word "murasaki," the Japanese word for purple, there are many different opinions as to why this word is used. For instance, one is because soy sauce was very expensive, another suggests that it is because purple is the highest status color in Buddhism, while a simpler explanation is that it is because soy sauce looks purple, and so on.

寿司屋さんには特有の言葉(符丁)があり、ご飯はシャリ、お茶はアガリなどお客さんたちに浸透したものもあります。 けれども、いまだに寿司職人や店の人だけが使う言葉もあるのです。
さて問題です。では「紫」とはなんでしょう? これは「しょうゆ」。「紫」についてだけでも、なぜこの言葉が使われるのか諸説見られます。ひとつは、しょうゆがとても高価だったから。それから、仏教で徳の高い色の”紫“とつけたというもの、あるいはただその色から来た……などなど。

The word for that thing in your lunchbox comes from sushi jargon

Do you know the name of the green lacerated plastic thing you usually find in a Japanese lunchbox? It's called baran. The word originally comes from sushi chef jargon. Sushi restaurants use aspidistra or bamboo grass (haran in Japanese) for decoration or instead of a dish. The green piece of plastic is supposed to represent haran and the word becomes baran in Japanese.
Familiar words for Japanese such as toro, which refers to a tender and fatty fish-meat texture, and gyoku, which comes from the Chinese way of reading the kanji, are also jargon words used by sushi chefs.
Studying the origin of words is such fun, isn't it?
I'll show you some words in a list of fucho (see the table); but they are not used in the same way all over Japan and basically are jargon used by sushi chefs.

そういえば、お弁当に入っているあの緑色でギザギザの草みたいなプラスティックの名前はご存知ですか? あれは「バラン」。これも、寿司屋で飾りやお皿代わりに使う「葉蘭」や「笹」を「ハラン」と呼んだことから転じて、こう呼ばれるようになったんだそうです。

Is it OK to ask for an oaiso?

Well, after you have enjoyed some delicious sushi and you ask for the check, you might want to say, "Oaiso, please." However, this wouldn't be a good way to ask for it.
Oaiso originally meant, "It's not a pleasant matter to ask you about the payment," or, "Just give the customer a smile before they go out." As you can tell, these would be phrases used by people from the sushi restaurant, not by the customer.
Well, as we come to the end of this article, I am grateful to all of you for reading and will send you off with a big and sincere oaiso smile. Looking forward to seeing you in the next article!


Check or payment. It originally meant "smile," or "the attitude to please the customer," and is supposed to be used by the people from the restaurant not the customer.

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