The appealing history and culture of rice in Japan

Even though food is imported from all over the world and the Japanese eat universal foods nowadays, Japanese rice culture never changed and the Japanese still eat rice commonly as a staple diet. Japanese rice is the best in the world. We would like to introduce the appeal of delicious Japanese rice culture.


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The Japanese have eaten “Okome or Kome (Rice)” as a staple diet since the ancient times.


Even though food is imported from all over the world and the Japanese eat universal food nowadays, the Japanese still eat rice commonly.

Rice has a long history and “Inasaku” which is rice cropping started in the Jomon period.


Following the Shinto religion in Japan, they dedicate rice as well as Japanese Sake and salt to god in regional festivals since ancient times.


So, for the Japanese, rice is not only food but also a crop with a spiritual value.

There is plenty of food used with rice in Japan, such as “Onigiri (rice ball)”, “Ochazuke (rice poured green tea, dashi or warm water)”, “Takikomi Gohan (rice seasoned dashi, soy sauce, vegetable, meat, fish or mushroom etc), “Donburi or Donburimono (rice bowl dish)”,”Tamago kake Gohan (raw egg on rice)” and so on.

Onigiri (Rice Ball)

tosa muu/Flickr

Ochazuke (Rice poured green tea, dashi or warm water)


Takikomi Gohan (Rice seasoned dashi, soy sauce with vegetable, meat, fish or mushroom etc.)


Donburimono or Donburi (Rice bowl dish)

 hirotomo t/Flickr

Tamago kake gohan (Raw egg on rice)


Mochigome is the sticky rice which is slightly graded up from normal rice. The Japanese eat Mochi (sticky rice cake) made of Mochigome.

Omochi or Mochi (Sticky rice cake)


Omochi or Mochi is eaten in special ceremonies such as Oshogatsu (New Year) when Japanese celebrate the beginning of the New Year. They make the sticky rice into a powder called “Shiratama-ko (Rice glutinous flour) or “Joshin-ko (Japanese rice flour) and then these flours are used to make Odango (or Dango, Japanese sweet dumpling), Wagashi(Traditional Japanese confectionery) and Osenbei (or Senbei, Japanese rice cracker).

Joshin-ko (Japanese rice flour)


Odango or Dango (Japanese sweet dumpling)


Wagashi (Traditional Japanese Confectionery)

Yuichi Sakuraba/Flickr

Osenbei or Senbei (Japanese rice cracker)


A recent development is Kome-ko (rice flour) made of plain rice. This Kome-ko can be used the same as flour to make bread and Udon (Japanese thick flour noodle).

Kome-ko Pan(Rice flour bread)

Hidetsugu Tonomura/Flickr

Kome-ko Udon (Rice flour noodle)

“Inasaku” which is rice cropping starts from the planting of rice seedlings called “Taue (Ta-rice field, Ue-planting)” in April and rice is harvested in September. From the planting of rice seeding to the harvest, there are many things to do and are lots of care in each process.

Some elementary schools in Japan have lessons in rice cropping so that students can understand the preciousness of the rice they eat every day. And after gathering rice, they cook and eat themselves. The rice they cultivated must be the most delicious.


For the Japanese, rice is always treasured and will always be eaten eternally.

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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