November 1 is Sushi Day: Born from the Japanese connection to the Fall season, marketing, and a love story

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Since the 1960s, November 1 marks Sushi Day in Japan.
The All Japan Sushi Guild in 1961 came up with a way to help the Japanese celebrate and give thanks to the coming of the Fall season. This time of year, fruition, harvests, and rice are highly valued in Japanese culture. Also, Fall is a time that traditionally the Japanese associate with appetite and the in Japanese Shokuyoku no Aki (食欲の秋) literally means “Fall appetite”.

Smart marketing
Having established a cultural connection to eating and to the Fall season, the All Japan Sushi Guild intended for sushi to be celebrated and enjoyed by people of all ages and gender, and promoted National Sushi Day to appeal to everyone. In a way, it was a successful marketing ploy to get more people to eat sushi especially since in the 1960s onward, with Japan’s economy rapidly recovering after its defeat in WWII, more and more people, not just rich elites, but of all parts of Japanese society were able to enjoy sushi.

Why November 1?
There is sort of a love story behind the Sushi Day date of November 1 which has its origin in theatrics. A sushi restaurant appears in a kabuki play in which Taira Koremori, a samurai warrior defeated in battle, visits and falls in love with the daughter of the sushi chef (if interested, he was serving Ayu or sweetfish sushi). The warrior then gives up his status as a samurai and is adopted into the sushi chef’s family and changes his name to Yasuke on November 1. The sushi restaurant is known today as Tsurubesushi Yasuke, or Yasukezushi and is located in Nara Prefecture, Japan. If you’re in the area, go and grab a bite of sushi history!