So what’s the quintessential visual representation of fish in Japanese culture? Is it a decorative koi, swimming gracefully in a garden pond? Or is it a delectable piece of sushi sitting atop an elegant piece of tableware?
Maybe it’s both, like these koi-shaped sushi morsels that combine five staples of the popular dish into a beautiful piece of edible art.
Japanese Twitter user @famitikin115 recently shared the following photo, which he’d received from a friend.
hayato☆＠マクロファージ (@famitikin115) October 05, 2015
While that might look like roughly a half-dozen colorful koi gracing a serving tray, they’re actually pieces of nigari sushi. Pressed atop the blocks of rice are strips of salmon, uni (sea urchin) , and egg, along with a few flecks of nori seaweed. The whole thing is covered with an extra-thin slice of translucent squid, cut to form a tail and fins, and two more dots of nori for the eyes.
While this such a mix of ingredients alone would be considered luxuriously decadent in Japan, what really got people talking was the amazingly lifelike look of this school of “koi,” with @famitikin115’s followers commenting:
“The sushi is swimming!”
“That looks delicious!”
Other followers who recognized the uniquely styled sushi pointed out that it’s made by Nishikizushi, a sushi shop that’s based in Oita Prefecture’s Saiki but delivers nationwide.
The koi-shaped sushi is officially called the Nishikigoi no Sugatazushi (“Multicolored Koi-Shaped Sushi”), and can be ordered here for 800 yen (US$6.70) per piece.
▼ It also shows up in some of Nishikizushi’s sushi sets.
Some online commenters say the sushi creations look too much like actual fish for them to eat, but everyone seems impressed by the skill and creativity on display. Just remember, though, that the Nishikigoi no Sugatazushi is indeed food, and resist the urge to try putting one in your aquarium and keeping it as a pet.