Narezushi was the first sushi made. But Shiga Prefecture made its type of narezushi using funa (carp): funazushi.

Funa is Japan’s king of freshwater fish, and nigorobuna (crucian carp)—the original type of carp to make funazushi—can only be found in Lake Biwa. Out of the five shops around the lake that retails funazushi, a shop owned by Kitamura Mariko and her husband Atsushi sells the most authentic. Kitamura’s funazushi tastes like blue cheese with its lacto-fermented, sour, salty, and umami-rich flavor. Some people may enjoy it, while others may dislike it due to its strong smell.

The sushi we know today is technically called hayazushi (fast sushi), invented in the Edo period as the “fast-food” version of narezushi. Hayazushi uses fermented rice vinegar and soy sauce as ingredients to copy the sour and salty flavor of funazushi. Lake Biwa’s trademark sushi may not be for everyone, but it’s a must-try in these modern times to get a taste of Japan’s culture.