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Which Japanese Rice to Buy? – Types, Price and More

If you’ve wandered into a Japanese supermarket simply shopping for rice, you have probably been surprised and maybe overwhelmed by the variety. White rice, brown rice, non-wash rice the list goes on! Japanese rice is more than a source of carbohydrate, it is a part of Japan’s culture. According to Japanese folk tale, a rabbit rests on the moon making mochi, rice cakes. On clear nights, you can catch a glimpse of the moon rabbit still riding the moon. We hope the information helps you buy the right rice for your family.

Japanese Rice – Types, Price and More

Price of rice can vary from 300 – 2,000 JPY per kilo. Price is driven by quality, scarcity, and processing.

The Japanese take rice very seriously. Japan Grain Inspection Association regularly assess the quality of rice and releases the top results. Sweetness, stickiness, and texture are all part of the judging criteria. The three top-ranking rice is currently 山形県産つや姫 (Yamagata Kensatsuyahime)魚沼コミヒカリ新潟県 (Uonuma komihikari Nigata-Ken)北海道産ななつぼし (Hokkaido Sannanatsuboshi) respectively and 新潟県コミヒカリ(Niigata-Ken Komihikari)  tying with 千葉県ふさおとめ (Chiba-Ken Fusaotome) at fourth place. These rice will cost more than others due to the popularity.

It is common to find high ranking rice mixed with regular white rice. The packaging will show the percentage of the high ranking rice. The price increases with the percentage of high-ranking rice.

Processing can also impact the price. Two popular processing types are specially cultivated rice and non-wash rice.

  1. 特別栽培米 (Tokubetsusaibaimai) – Directly translated this means “specially cultivated rice”, but what does this actually mean? Rice under this category was sprayed with half the amount of pesticide as normal rice. This causes an increase in price for this kind of rice.

2. 無洗米 (Musenmai) – Means the rice does not need washing. During processing the outer layer of the rice is shaved off the white rice to provide the convenience of cooking rice without washing.   無洗米 is smaller in grain size than regular white rice due to the shaving. Much like the rice mentioned above, this extra step increases the cost of the rice. However the shaving does reduce the amount of water used in the process of cooking rice.

Other factors that influence the price is the supply of the rice and demand of the people. For example, if many people desire 山形県産つや姫 (Yamagata Kensatsuyahime) but there are only a limited kilograms available, the price will increase. This is often the case for top-ranking rice.

Rice inflection and deflection are also triggered by the area of land open for cultivation and weather. Farmers have limited land and close to no control over the weather. If there is a high-quality rice exclusively available in one part of Japan due to climate restrictions, the price will increase. If there is a natural disaster, such the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011, the nuclear radiation contamination will cause the price to decrease.

Top ranking Japanese rice – all available at Amazon.co.jp

Japanese rice 山形県産つや姫

 

 

 

1. 山形県産つや姫 : Top ranking milled rice cultivated in Yamagata Prefecture

 

 

Japanese rice 魚沼コミヒカリ新潟県

 

 

 

2. 魚沼コミヒカリ新潟県 : Runner-up white rice cultivated in Niigata Prefecture

 

 

Japanese rice 北海道産ななつぼし

 

 

3. 北海道産ななつぼし : Non-wash rice cultivated in Hokkaido

 

 

 

Japanese rice 新潟県コミヒカリ

 

4. 新潟県コミヒカリ : Specially cultivated white rice from Niigata Prefecture

 

 

 

 

Japanese rice 千葉県ふさおとめ

 

5. 千葉県ふさおとめ : Non-wash rice cultivated in Chiba Prefecture

 

 

 

Japanese Rice – Types, Price and More

How to preserve rice?

A while back black insects appeared while I was washing rice. Alarmed by the finding, I discovered the whole bag of rice was contaminated by wheat weevils. Summer in Japan can get pretty hot and humid, this creates the perfect incubator for wheat weevils who lay larvae into grains of rice. To prevent, store rice in sealed tight containers away from direct sunlight, high heat and humidity. If necessary drop an oxygen absorber into the container or try out the Japanese invented insect repellent. It is made specially to fight rice bugs. Check it out as well! If you are not planning to consume the rice for a long period of time, consider storing in the freezer.

Our recommendation for fighting rice bugs:

Japanese rice storage container

 

Rice storage container : Small convenient rice container for you to fit anywhere necessary. The lid also acts as a measurement so it’s two in one!

 

 

 

Japanese rice bug repellent

Rice bug repellent (米唐番 米びつ用防虫剤) : works like a charm

Useful kanji when buying Japanese rice:

List

If you liked this post, you may also enjoy our recommendations on what to do with Japanese pumpkin, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and konyaku.

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Which Japanese rice to buy?

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