I asked ふみせんせい (Fumi-sensei) about sushi on Christmas Eve, while she was visiting. Mainly because I know here in America we tend to take perfectly good ethnic foods and change them beyond recognition. First, sushi is not a food meant for everyday.
In Japan sushi is for celebrations and special days, like a birthday. Sushi is made with rice that has vinegar in it, or しゃり (shari), which can be arranged with different ingredients in a variety of ways. The combination is referred to as ねた (neta).
Types of Sushi
These are only a few…there are several additional types of sushi which can be discovered on Wikipedia as a start.
まきずし (makizushi): Rolled sushi is the most common in the U.S. because it tends to have less raw fish and an appearance that is more appealing to most Americans.
にぎりずし (nigirizushi): This is my favorite it is simple and elegant, usually called hand formed sushi. It is made of an oval or rectangular shaped rice with raw fish draped over it.
ちらしずし (chirashizushi): Probably the least common in the U.S. is the scattered sushi, which is usually a bowl of rice with raw fish and other garnishes artfully scattered on top.
History of Sushi
Sushi literally means sour tasting, the roots of this modern day dish do not sound as appetizing. Sushi began as a rice and fish dish called なれずし (narezushi), where fish was wrapped in a sour fermented rice. In Japan, なれずし (narezushi) evolved into おしずし (oshizushi) and ultimately えどまあいにぎりずし (Edomae nigirizushi), which is what the world today knows as “sushi”.