Rice

Japan has several thousand varieties of rice called komekome is the Japanese word for rice.
Japanese spelling is こめ and the Kanji for this word is 米.
and regional differences contribute to certain rice’s appeal because of the difference in taste.  Like wheat in the Western world, rice is a staple in the Japanese diet.  It is used in many dishes and beverages, and is a focal point in ceremonies and festivals.

Rice seed quality is determined by density and Japanese farmers test for densisty by dropping seeds into salted water, and selecting the ones that sink to the bottom.  This process is called ensuisen.  Seeds are soaked in cool water for up to 10 days, then warm water for 2-3 days before being planted to promote sprouting in preparation for April planting.  These seeds are nurtured in a protective environment such as a greenhouse before they are ready to be planted in the rice paddies in the middle of May.  Rice fields or hatakeJapanese rice field.
Japanese spelling is はたけ and the Kanji for this word is 畑.
are leveled with a small ridge at the top to keep an even amount of water spread throughout the field and protect the newly planted seedlings.  From this point onward, farmers watch over the field water levels and continue to remove weeds and soften the soil.  When the rice plants begin spreading, the field is drained of it’s water for 1 week to insure it’s oxygen content is maintained.  Water is re-introduced into the field to allow the rice plants to continue their growth into maturity.  The rice plants will bloom and pollenate for a period of 2 hours during late July through early August, contributing to the growth of the rice grain.  The water is finally completely drained 3 weeks after the blooming period begins.


Japanese rice fields

Japanese rice fields


Shūkakuthe harvesting season.
Japanese spelling is しゅうかく and the Kanji for this word is 収穫.
is the beginning of the harvest season and starts in September lasting through October.  The rice plants are cut very close to the ground and shipped to grain elevators where it is dried and stored.  To protect and prolong it’s freshness, rice is stored unhulled until it is ready to be shipped to the consumer, a process that allows Japanese rice to maintain a high standard of quality among the world’s rice growers.

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