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Rice (, kome) is Japan's most important crop, and has been cultivated across the country for over 2000 years. It is the primary staple food of the Japanese diet and of such fundamental importance to the Japanese culture that it was once used as currency, and the word for cooked rice (gohan) has become synonymous with the general meaning of "meal".

A bowl of cooked rice is a central part of traditional Japanese meals, but the grain is also processed into several different types of products including alcohol, vinegar and flour. The following are some common rice products and a list of common rice dishes that can be found across the country.

Common types of rice

White Rice (Hakumai)

Brown Rice (Genmai)

Multigrain Rice

Glutinous Rice (Mochigome)

Common rice products

Rice Wine (Nihonshu or Sake)

Rice Vinegar

Rice Flour

Rice Bran (Nuka)

Common rice dishes

Cooked Rice (Gohan)

Rice Cakes (Mochi)

Rice Balls (Onigiri)

Tamago Kake Gohan

Chazuke

Kayu

Donburi

Sushi

Fried Rice (Chahan)

Omuraisu

Rice Crackers (Senbei)

Sweets

Rice Bran Pickles (Nukazuke)

Rice Bread (Komepan)

Rice Manners

  • Pick up your rice bowl with your hand while eating from it.
  • It is considered polite to finish every grain of rice that you have been served.
  • It is not common to pour soy sauce directly over rice.
  • Do not leave your chopsticks standing up vertically in your rice. This is done at funerals.

Rice fields and rice-related attractions

Rice fields are a common sight in the Japanese countryside and an image of nostalgia for many people. The fields start as flooded paddies in the early summer and turn into seas of green and gold waves as the rice grows and matures through the season. The crop of rice is then usually harvested in the fall, although some southern regions may plant more than one crop per year.

Some places famous for particularly nice rice patty landscapes include the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture, Shodoshima Island in Kagawa Prefecture and the Echigo Tsumari region of Niigata Prefecture.

Surrounded by the fertile Shonai Plain, Sakata City in Yamagata Prefecture has been a center of rice trade for centuries. One of the city's tourist sites is a row of historic rice warehouses, one of which has been opened to the public as a local rice museum.