What is Japanese Kaisendon and its history?

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The Japanese love their sushi, don’t they? But there’s also a form of sushi that ISN’T in a seaweed wrapper, Kaisendon.

Kaisendon is a dish made with raw seafood and vinegar-based dressing. To cook it, you’ll need to first prepare the seafood. The rice is more like sushi rice than with other donburi bowls with a vinegar-based dressing that’s poured over the seafood.

In this article, I’ll look at the history and development of the most popular types of Kaisendon, as well as the health benefits.

What is kaisendon

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What Is Kaisendon?

A Delicious Dish From Japan

Kaisendon is a popular Japanese dish that’s often found in sushi restaurants. It’s a light yet nutritious seafood dish that’s perfect for lunch. It consists of white rice and raw sashimi, such as squid, prawns, octopus, salmon, crab meat, and sea urchin roes. It also usually comes with condiments like wasabi or soy sauce.

Different Kaisendon Styles

Kaisendon is known for its variety of sashimi, but there are some dishes that only have one main ingredient. These include:

  • Tekkadon: Tuna is the main seafood
  • Negitoro Don: Tuna is the main seafood
  • Unidon: Sea urchins are the main ingredient
  • Ikradon: Salmon roe is the main ingredient

Kaisendon History

Kaisendon is a combination of two words: kaisen, which means seafood, and don, which means a Donburi rice bowl. It originated in the Hokkaido and Tohoku area of Japan, where fishermen ate it at the bay. It quickly caught on due to its casual mix of sashimi and how easy it is to make.

It was first served in restaurants in Akita prefecture and Kanazawa city, and it’s especially popular in Toyama Bay. This is because the water there is ideal for both warm water and cold water fish, with over 3400 species of fish that can be used as toppings for Kaisendon.

So if you’re ever in Japan and looking for a light yet delicious lunch option, why not give Kaisendon a try? You won’t regret it!

Experience Japanese Culture Through Kaisendon!

Kaisendon in Hokkaido

Kaisendon in Hokkaido prefecture is particularly popular because it’s even more delicious than Kaisendon from other areas. It’s become a synonym for delicious dishes from Hokkaido! Depending on the season, you can enjoy snow crab (zuwai-gani) in the spring, sea urchins in the summer, salmon in the autumn, and yesso scallop in the winter.

What’s in Kaisendon?

Kaisendon usually consists of several types of seafood, such as tuna, salmon, squid, octopus, crab, scallop, and salmon roe. Most Japanese people top it with soy sauce and horseradish (wasabi). The sauce for Kaisendon varies from restaurant to restaurant, with some restaurants making their own special sauce from soy sauce, mirin, sake, garlic, and ginger.

History of Kaisendon

The history of Kaisendon is a bit of a mystery, but it’s believed to have been introduced to the rest of Japan from Hokkaido prefecture and the Tohoku area. It’s thought that fishermen in these areas were the first to cook and eat Kaisendon. The first restaurant to serve Kaisendon is also unknown, but the restaurants New Hatakane in Akita prefecture and Inoya in Kanazawa city both claim to be the first.

Kaisendon vs. Chirashi-zushi

It’s also unclear what the difference is between Kaisendon and Chirashi-zushi. Chirashi-zushi is a type of sushi that consists of several types of raw seafood and rice with vinegared rice. It’s usually packed in a box for takeout. However, there is Kaisendon with vinegared rice in western Japan. Some sushi restaurants also serve Chirashi-zushi in a donburi bowl.

Special Kaisendon

There are also special Kaisendon dishes with only one ingredient, such as Tekkadon (tuna), Negitorodon (tuna), Unidon (sea urchins), and Ikradon (salmon roe). Tomoedon (sea urchins, salmon roe, and scallop) and Bakudandon (tuna, egg, okra, and natto) are also popular in some regions.

Where to Find Kaisendon

You can find Kaisendon in many Japanese restaurants, especially in Hokkaido prefecture. There’s even a Kaisendon restaurant chain called Donmaru. If you’re traveling in Japan, it’s definitely worth trying Kaisendon to experience Japanese culture. If you can’t make it to Japan, you can easily make Kaisendon at home with soy sauce and horseradish.

The Art of Eating Chirashi Sushi & Kaisendon

Soy Sauce & Wasabi Condiment:

When it comes to adding soy sauce to your food, it’s best to have a separate bowl. Too much soy sauce in the rice can make it super soggy.

In traditional sushi restaurants, the itamae (sushi chef) prepares the food for you. So it’s best to savor the food without pouring the condiments in.

Using Chopsticks:

Using chopsticks to pick up the individual pieces is a great way to show that you know the etiquette and how to best savor the food.

Using Your Hands:

If chopsticks aren’t your thing, you can also use your hands to pick up the toppings singularly.

Personal Preference:

Some people prefer to eat the food separately so they can taste the flavor of the rice and the texture of the fish individually.

On the other hand, combining the sushi rice along with the sashimi can be a great way to balance the taste of the fish with the more pure texture of the rice. This way, the two different flavors can interchange and bring out the best of both sides.

So, whether you like to savor each ingredient separately or combine them together, it’s all up to you!

The Difference Between Chirashi Sushi and Kaisen-Don

What is Chirashi Sushi?

Chirashi sushi is a traditional Japanese dish that’s usually served during special occasions or when a special guest has come to visit. It’s made by layering a variety of sashimi on top of plain, hot rice and served in a rectangular bento box or cylindrical container.

What is Kaisen-Don?

Kaisen-don is a rice bowl dish that was inspired by the Edomae chirashi sushi. It was created after WWII and is usually served in restaurants. The rice is usually not hot nor plain, as it can be made with vinegared rice. Kaisen-don is usually served in a typical bowl.

How to Tell the Difference?

If you’re ever unsure whether you’re having chirashi sushi or kaisen-don, here are a few tips to help you out:

  • Pay attention to the container – chirashi sushi is usually served in a rectangular bento box or cylindrical container, whereas kaisen-don is served in a bowl.
  • Timing is key – chirashi sushi is usually served during special occasions or when a special guest has come to visit, whereas kaisen-don is just another item on the menu of a restaurant.

So the next time you’re enjoying a Japanese meal, keep an eye out for the container and the timing to help you tell the difference between chirashi sushi and kaisen-don!


Kaisendon is a traditional Japanese dish that is both light and nutritious, making it a great lunch option. With its variety of sashimi, condiments, and styles, it’s no wonder why Kaisendon has become so popular. From its humble beginnings in the Hokkaido and Tohoku area, Kaisendon has spread all over Japan and is now a beloved dish. So, if you’re looking for a unique and delicious sushi experience, Kaisendon is the way to go! Just remember to use those chopsticks like a PRO – or else you’ll be the laughing stock of the restaurant!

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.