Cultural appropriation is a growing concern in the western world as more elements of foreign cultures are being practiced and emulated in countries like Canada and the United States.

Produced by Maria Dardano and Nora Cruickshank 

Topics such as yoga, Halloween and hip-hop have been hotly debated on whether or not Caucasian people are adopting elements of traditional minority cultures and using those elements outside of their original context.

According to Merriam-Webster, sushi is a Japanese dish consisting of small balls or rolls of vinegar-flavored cold, cooked, rice served with a garnish of raw fish, vegetables or egg.

It has grown immensely to become a popular choice of food for everyday meals in Canada. Gwendolyn Richards, food and travel writer says “[In Japan] it is usually for special occasions, and here it’s sort of become this sort of everyday thing.”

Traditional sushi, such as Japanese makizushi- rice, fish, meat, or vegetables rolled into seaweed [nori] using a bamboo mat called a makisu – and nigiri – raw fish or meat over sushi rice – is much different from the most popular westernized sushi rolls.

One of the most popular sushi rolls at Calgary restaurant Kinjo Sushi and Grill is the California Roll. Named for its place of origin, it consists of rice, seaweed, crabmeat, avocado and cucumber.

Peter Kinjo, owner of Kinjo Sushi and Grill, refers to traditional sushi as a high-level dish that western diners would not fully appreciate yet:

“Kinjo is growing a higher quality sushi with educate the Canadian people together, but they have to start somewhere, they have to start like somewhere, they have to start enjoy somewhere, that’s my job right now. But if these entry people, if they don’t enjoy it, how can they go second and third level,” says Kinjo.

According to, instead of the, “Delicate balance of flavors, western diners prefer bold flavors and strong colors, which explains the popularity of a roll like the ‘Philadelphia Roll’, which includes Salmon, avocado, and cream cheese.”

A sushi chef at Kinjo Sushi and Grill restaurant.A sushi chef at Kinjo Sushi and Grill in the process of making a sushi rolls on the traditional makisu bamboo mat. Photo by Maria Dardano.Alongside, his most popular entry-level sushi, Kinjo serves up orange slices. These are traditionally given out for celebrations in Asian cultures in the shape of Mickey Mouse and gives away free boxes of the popular Asian candy, Pocky, to women and children at every meal.

“This is more like a McDonalds for sushi. I want to make every North American people going to enjoy sushi like a hamburger and pizza,” says Kinjo.

You can find westernized sushi rolls at almost any sushi restaurant in Canada today, but many, including Kinjo, are still serving traditional sushi. They are finding that more people are interested in and enjoying the delicate balance of flavours.

Canada’s multiculturalism is often referred to as a salad bowl as it accepts the integration of many different cultures into it’s own. Japanese cultures such as anime, ramen and sushi have become extremely popular in Canada.

While the westernized elements of these cultures exist, they do so in a way that helps Canadians learn more about the Japanese culture and appreciate the traditional background it originated from.

The editor responsible for this article is Ingrid Mir,

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