Sushi lovers learn the fine art of "Washoku" at Pike Place Market

If you love sushi, Pike Place Market was the place to be Sunday.

A packed house in the market's "Atrium Loft" learned how to make hand-rolled sushi, called "Washoku," in a free class.

Taught by Chef Shota Nakajima, owner of "Naka" on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, the goal was to get more people to eat Japanese food at home, by learning the fine art of sushi.  Nakajima spent five years training as a chef’s apprentice in Japan.

"It's very difficult,” said Mai Smith, who came to learn from the sushi master chef.  “I'm from Japan so I've tried it before, but I've never known how to make it."

Students learning the craft watched carefully as Nakajima wrapped rice, cucumber and crab meat in rolls of seaweed. They attempted to duplicate his work, crafting their own versions with the same ingredients laid out on a table before them.

“Japan has a long culinary history and a lot of delicious food,” said Naoki Hayasaka, who helped organize the Washoku event.  “There are very few chances to introduce this kind of history. So today is a precious opportunity.”

Students of Washoku learned about its history in Japan, as well as its nutritional value.  As Chef Nakajima showed off his finesse, they learned how the traditional Japanese, hand-rolled treats not only provide nutritional balance, but "aesthetic harmony."

The event was co-hosted by Japan's Consulate-General in Seattle and its Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.