A former best-selling variation of sushi has returned, but it might be difficult to catch.
Kozosushi was established in the 70s and rose to prominence as the place to get your take-out sushi, with over 2,000 stores nationwide at its peak. However, market forces being what they were, Kozosushi had to downsize to stay competitive and now only has about 268 stores left.
Also during the height of this take-out restaurant, there was a particular signature item called Ghost Sushi (Yurei Sushi). According to sushi legend, it was such a hot seller that 230,000 units were sold in a single day all over Japan. However, as Kozosushi began its recession, so too did the Ghost Sushi vanish.
But now it has returned! For a very limited time in July, Ghost Sushi can be purchased once again from participating Kozosushi locations for 590 yen (US$5.25). Our resident paranormal food specialist K. Nagahashi went to investigate.
Upon purchasing the legendary sushi, our reporter was a little disheartened to find a plain rectangular box with a simple drawing of a ghost on the lid and what appeared to be nothing but plain rice inside.
He began to get a sinking feeling that Ghost Sushi was actually just some novelty gag bento with “invisible” toppings that you have to “believe in to taste,” or something dumb like that.
But after digging in, Nagahashi was greeted by a pleasant sight!
It turned out that all the toppings were buried inside the rice. As he continued to eat more and more foods could be found: salmon, shrimp, octopus, tuna, kanpyo, fried tofu, shiitake, and more!
And that’s why it’s called “ghost sushi,” because you can’t see the toppings, you just have to believe they’re there.
The taste was great as well. The rice was very sweetly vinegared and the huge bounty of toppings (insidings?) was very tasty. It was a kind of sushi that even the most finicky eater could get into.
While eating, Nagahashi was reminded of chirashi sushi, an often homemade variant of sushi where the vinegared rice is put in a bowl and colorful sweet and tangy toppings are scattered on top.
So he grabbed a bowl and started to do some ghostbusting for his own chirashi sushi. He highly recommends this for people who get enjoyment out of the visual aspect of eating.
In the end, Ghost Sushi was a fully satisfying meal but not too filling that he got tired of it. It’s easy to see why it sold so well back in the day, but also sad to see that it has been reduced to the etheral bento that it is today.
If you want to hunt a Ghost Bento, your first challenge is to find a Kozoshushi outlet near you, but even upon finding one, not all Kozosushis are selling Ghost Sushi, so you might want to call ahead and confirm first.
Also, the Ghost Sushi is only sold for four days: 1, 2, 8, and 9 July. Since two of those days have already passed, the clock is ticking on these elusive sushi boxes.