Summer in Japan means festivals, fireworks and a host of annual events designed to bring people together despite the searing heat. And as the sun beats down on fields across the nation, there’s one special rice paddy that’s slowly taking shape, transforming into a very unique piece of art ready to greet crowds of adoring admirers over the next two months.
The Japanese words omusubi and onigiri are usually translated as “rice ball,” but there’s no rule that they have to be round. Walk into any convenience store or supermarket in Japan and you’ll find the shelves stocked with triangular versions, plus plenty that look closer to a soft-edged hockey puck than a perfectly spherical ball.
What we’re saying is that when it comes to omusubi design, your options are wide open, and with this kitty-shaped omusubi kit, they’re adorable as well.
With a new Star Wars film coming out this year, you can imagine people around the world are excited. And Japan is no exception! With all the advertising and events happening, it can be hard to keep up with everything, but the next big Star Wars event in Japan has a distinctly cultural feel to it: Rice field art!
You know that feeling after you eat too much of something really delicious? When your stomach hurts and you’re filled with a curious mix of regret, pain and contentment? We reckon Yuka Kinoshita, Japanese competitive eater, knows that feeling well.
So, let’s watch a video of her making her way through 5.5 pounds (2.5kg) of rice and sticky natto beans!
We’ve talked before about yuru-kyara, Japan’s adorable illustrated mascots. But cute manga-style horses and anthropomorphic pears aren’t the only local spokescharacters you’ll find in Japan, as some regions of the country are also represented by “Local Heroes,” (Gotouchi Hiro in Japanese), Power Ranger or Kamen Rider-like defenders of their communities.
One of the more popular Local Heroes is Neiger, whose mission is to protect Akita Prefecture’s people, mountains, and seas. Akita is a pretty safe and sleepy part of Japan, though, and not exactly the kind of place that’s under constant threats that require a superhero-level response. So what’s he been doing with all of his downtime?
Growing rice, apparently.
Japanese cuisine is known for containing certain dishes that many westerners find hard to stomach, delicious as they may be. That includes sashimi (raw fish!) and natto (fermented soybeans!).
But what about the flip-side of the coin? Which western foods make Japanese people want to barf? The results may surprise you – or perhaps not. Here’s a list!
Despite a rather weak track-record for its hamburgers with patties of noodles, fast-food chain Lotteria is back at it with the Moko Tanmen Burger. This time around they’ve also come up with the Moko Don Burger which uses a wad of rice as the patty. Good thing Dr. Atkins isn’t around to see this.
They say the definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing twice and expecting different results. We’re not sure what to call RocketNews24 reporter Mr. Sato then, because he is returning to Lotteria for a fourth time to try these noodley sandwiches in hopes of some redemption.
Think Japan loves it some rice? Well, you’d be right. Japan is definitely a rice consuming nation, and the little white grains are most certainly one of Japan’s staple foods. But would you believe the country doesn’t even break the top 10 nations when it comes to rice consumption?
It appears neither would Japanese Netizens, as a chart making the rounds on the Japanese interwebs has onlookers incredulously dropping their morning baked goods.
As many of our readers are undoubtedly aware, white rice is an essential part of the Japanese diet, a food that we Japanese treat with reverence. It so happens that we also enjoy various flavored rice dishes known as takikomi gohan, in which rice is cooked with different ingredients to give it a distinct taste. Some of the common takikomi gohan flavors that we like to have include kuri gohan made with chestnut and matsutake gohan made with matsutake mushrooms. But a particularly unique kind of flavored rice causing a buzz on the Japanese Internet has come to our attention recently, and as unconventional and unexpected as it sounded, we decided we had to cook and try it for ourselves. The ingredient used in this unusual flavored rice? It’s something you would ordinarily never associate with rice: coffee!
Good news for all those who live in Japan and suffer from pollen allergies! Scientists have genetically modified rice in an attempt to desensitize the body to that nasty Japanese cedar pollen that causes all of the sneezing, mask-wearing and eye-watering every spring. Just think, eating some of this special rice everyday could relieve you from all of your hay fever woes!
While out shopping the other day, I picked up a bag of prewashed rice. The grocery store was having a sale, so it was just as cheap as the unwashed kinds, and I figured, “Hey, there’s no advantage to having to rinse it myself is there?”
But as it turns out, the water left over after you wash the rice, called togijiru in Japanese, is actually pretty useful, as shown by these five ways you can reuse it instead of just dumping it down the sink.
Preparing a delicious bowl of rice is an absolutely essential part of Japanese cuisine, and fortunately for most amateur cooks today’s modern rice cookers have made that task as simple as pressing as button.
While these handy machines can whip up a tasty bowl of rice with little to no effort, we wanted to try out a time-consuming cooking method we learned from the popular food-themed manga Oishinbo. In it, one of the main characters painstakingly examines and sorts each grain of rice to prepare what is described as “a taste you won’t forget in 15 years.” But is all that hard work worth it?
All of Japan was thrilled when traditional Japanese cuisine, or washoku in Japanese, became a registered UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in December last year. And one thing that is for certain when it comes to Japanese food is that we Japanese love our rice with a passion. We have various brands and classes of rice, with differing flavors and prices depending on where it’s grown, much like what you might expect with fine wine, and we all have our favorites. It’s simply an irrefutable fact that rice holds a very central place in Japanese cuisine and in the hearts of the Japanese as well.
Yes, there’s nothing quite like the sensation of inhaling the scent of steaming hot freshly cooked rice when you open the rice cooker, and as fond as we are of rice, we were delighted to have the opportunity this week to attend a reception for foreign media titled “Celebrating Worldwide Recognition of Washoku and Rice“. And when we heard that it included being served a traditional Japanese meal by a master chef from a renowned Japanese restaurant and also a chance to try making some unique sushi rolls ourselves, we knew this was definitely a reception we couldn’t miss!
In Japan, almost every traditional meal is served with white rice. Sometimes, though, even Japanese diners find themselves craving something a little more flavorful, and when they do, they reach for a container of furikake (lit. “sprinkle over”) flakes to liven up their rice.
Dried fish like salmon or bonito are the most common kinds of furikake, but just like every region of Japan has its own special Kit-Kats, different parts of the country also have their own unique furikake, and today we’re taking a look at seven of the most tempting.
We’re suckers for a good rice cooker recipe and get even more excited when all you have to do is plop a few ingredients into the machine. So we were really happy when we found this super easy rice cooker recipe for “potato chip rice” from successful Japanese chef, Masahiro Kasahara, in his self-titled book, Masahiro Kasahara’s 30-minute Japanese Meals. With only three ingredients (four if you count the water), we were equally parts intrigued and wary as we set out to recreate his bizarre dish.
Onigiri are rice balls, and they’re basically the Japanese version of sandwiches. They’re a fast, convenient snack that you can eat without getting your hands messy, and they’ve been a staple of Japanese lunches since medieval times. But now there’s a hip new version that’s trying to take over from the long-established practice of molding the rice by hand.
Tokyo and Osaka are only about 2.5 hours away by bullet train, so perhaps you wouldn’t think they’d be that different. But while Kanto (Tokyo, Yokohama, Chiba) holds the image of a glittering metropolis, Kansai (Osaka, Kyoto, Nara) is full of the old, historical aspects of Japan. The most commonly cited difference is the dialects of the two regions. For example, dame in Kanto-ben is akan in Kansai-ben, both meaning something like “wrong, no good.”
So when Japanese people were polled about their food habits, it wasn’t so surprising that the two regions answered very differently.
In Japanese cuisine, one of the easiest dishes to prepare is ochazuke, or a bowl of rice mixed with tea. While you can spruce it up with things such as plum, salmon, or spicy cod roe, the rice and tea are really all you need.
But while almost all Japanese people enjoy an occasional ochazuke session, some foreigners find it a little unnatural to pour what’s generally a beverage over their food. The whole thing becomes even less attractive if you’re not a particularly big fan of the Japanese green tea that’s normally used.
So if you’re interested in gradually easing yourself into ochazuke, maybe you’d prefer to start with a less astringent beverage, like cola.
Food always seems to taste better right after getting in some exercise. Unfortunately, sometimes a long workout leaves you feeling starving and exhausted, which is a problem when you then have to go foraging for food after you leave the gym.
While I still haven’t found a gym that’ll reward you with a protein-packed steak for breaking your bench press max, or a pool that’ll hook you up with some sashimi after 1,000 meters of backstroke, there actually is a town in Japan that’ll give you a sack of rice for completing a 5K run. The only catch is, you’ve got to carry it with you during the race.