What Is Umi In Japanese Food?

Japanese cuisine is known for its high quality ingredients, beautiful presentation, and fresh tastes.

What many people don’t know is that algae is a common snack in Japan and one of the most popular forms of this plant-like food is called umi.

Although you may have seen dried seaweed snacks in your local grocery store or health food shop, these products probably didn’t come from Japan and are likely not exactly the same as umi (more on that later).

Umi is a type of Japanese seaweed.

So, what exactly is umi?

In the simplest terms, it’s a type of seaweed.

Specifically, it’s a type of kelp.

This particular variety is native to Japan and was first cultivated there in the 16th century by Buddhist monks who used it as a fertilizer for their crops.

Although it can grow as far north as Russia and Alaska (and occasionally even further), umi is most commonly cultivated near Japan’s southern coastlines.

A common way to enjoy umi is in salads.

Umi is the Japanese word for sea vegetables, a general term that includes seaweeds and marine algae.

In Japan, umi is used in dishes including:

  • salads
  • soups
  • sushi
  • tempura (a fried dish)

It’s also used as an ingredient in miso soup and dashi (a soup base).

Other types of algae are also used in Japanese cuisine.

You’re not limited to just umeboshi for your seaweed needs.

Other types of algae are also used in Japanese cuisine, including:

  • Umeboshi (pickled plum)
  • Wakame (seaweed)
  • Nori (dried seaweed)
  • Kombu (seaweed)


Umi is a type of Japanese seaweed.

It can be eaten raw in salads or cooked as an accompaniment to other dishes.

Umi is also known as “wakame”, which means “young tree” in English.

There are many different types of algae that are used in Japanese cuisine, but umi is one of the most popular ones.

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