This summer Tokyo hosts one of the world's greatest sporting competitions. To celebrate the coming together of international athletes and virtual audiences we’ve put together our own little opening ceremony of what’s going on in Nippon – or Nihon, the Japanese name for Japan – with drink suggestions, and recipes by Aya Nishimura. 

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    Did you know?

    Each host country can introduce, or reintroduce, events to the competition. In honour of Tokyo 2020’s newbies – sport climbing, baseball/softball, surfing, skateboarding, and karate – here are five interesting sushi facts to drop into the conversation during the commentary... 

    1. Shari is the name for sushi rice that can take a chef years to master.

    2. If the only food on the plate is sliced fish and a garnish, it’s sashimi, but if the fish is laid on top of rice, this is nigiri.

    3. Fillings of fish, meat, tofu and vegetables that are wrapped in nori (sheets of seaweed) on the outside are called maki, but if rice is on the outside it’s uramaki.

    4. The 'garnish' of pickled ginger slices are meant to be eaten as palate cleansers.

    5. Traditionally, sushi was eaten with the fingers – good to know if your chopstick technique is a bit rusty.

    Nomimono – the drinks

    Whether it’s the historical, formal tea ceremony while kneeling on tatami mats, or the modern, relaxed post-work drinks in an izakaya pub, the Japanese love to pour each other drinks. The country makes brilliant beers, spirits, sake and cocktails – and the only way to begin is with a heartfelt cheers, “kampai!”

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