Yohei Hanaya

Man who created sushi - Yohei Hanaya
The origins of sushi can be found in "nare-zushi", a type of sushi that was familiar in the Edo Period (1603-1868). Made of fish, salt and rice that was allowed to ferment, this sour-tasting sushi took months to make. At about this time, shops began selling sushi made with marinated fish or rice, which was then rolled or packed in boxes, in order to save time. That was the "birth" of sushi. However, towards the end of the Edo Period, there was a man who repeated the process of trial and error in order to create a type of sushi that was easier to make and eat. This young man's name was Yohei Hanaya.
 
Born in 1799 to a greengrocer's family in Fukui Prefecture, Yohei left home in 1818 after dedicating more than ten years of service to his family's business. After moving to Tokyo and changing jobs several times, Yohei created his "nigiri" (squeezed) sushi and started selling it by carrying a box of it on his back. From about 1828, when Yohei was in his thirties, he started selling his sushi at a stand. As word spread of this new type of sushi that could be popped into the mouth, "nigiri-sushi" grew in popularity, and Yohei's business prospered.