By Norma Merrett

If you were asked to name a food synonymous to Japan, rice would most likely be your answer.  Rice is deeply embedded in the cultural fabric of Japan.  It is the world’s most important food crop ahead of wheat, corn and bananas.  Rice is a major staple for many countries all over the world.  But have you ever thought about the benefits of organic rice in Japan?  Rice has a prominent place on the table in Japan and is used in many of the foods we consume throughout the day.  It is also the main component of a drink synonymous with Japan – sake.  There are substantial benefits to consuming organic rice in Japan.

In our efforts to provide you with access to information and products to help you be the best version of yourself, HealthyTokyo is going to examine why organic rice in Japan should be part of your balanced and healthy diet.

Organic Rice in Japan

The cultural significance and regard for rice in Japan is legendary.  It is believed to have come to Japan from China and Korea around the third century B.C.  Initially it was only consumed during times of special religious importance such as weddings, funerals or festivals. It soon flourished and became the staple of the Japanese diet.  It was considered so valuable that it was actually used to pay taxes, a practice that just ceased a little over a hundred years ago. Its holds deep religious and customary values to this day and is at the center of many festivals and celebrations.

During the early 1970’s, a limited amount of informal organic farming commenced in Japan. However, it wasn’t until 1993 that the guidelines in Japan were revised to begin to set the policies for organic farming.  In 2000 the governing body, Japan Agriculture Standards (JAS), set mandatory guidelines for organic farming.  Organic farming began to increase, however in 2015 it was reported to account for just 0.28% of rice farms in Japan.

The standards for organic rice are extremely stringent. The basics require that no chemical fertilizers or synthetic pesticides be used on the land for a minimum of two years prior to planting and thereafter. The use of genetically modified seeds is strictly prohibited. In addition, the farm must operate with minimum environmental stress in terms of cultivation, planting and harvest.

So what does this mean for you, the consumer of organic rice in Japan?  As the rice you consume is free of pesticides and chemicals, your body will also be free of these nasties.  Countless studies point to the adverse effects of consuming non-organic foods. Rice is no different in this regard to any other crop.

We are subjected to a great deal of pollution and environmental toxins that we have no control over. However, consuming organic products is one thing you can control.  You can rest assured in the knowledge that this rice has started out with no genetic modifications or use of chemicals, has been fertilized naturally and allowed to grow without interference.   Providing rigid organic practices are followed, future generations will reap the rewards of being responsible stewards of the land.

Having grown up on a grain farm myself, I am very familiar with the extensive time and commitment it takes to operate a farm. The extra diligence required of a farmer to adhere to organic standards is impressive.  Dealing with pests, weather, the market and using only organic methods represents a huge challenge.  In general, organic farming produces lower crop yields. So you can be confident the farmer responsible for your organic rice has given 110% to your product!

You will find a great selection of organic rice in the online shop here at HealthyTokyo.  This organic rice comes from Akita Prefecture in the Tohoku region of Japan, which is well known for plentiful rice production.

Here you can find a video of me presenting the organic rice with some amazake, made from that delicious organic rice.

Koshihikari Amore Organic White Rice from Japan

Koshihikari Amore Organic White Rice from Japan

Koshihikari Amore Organic White Rice is raised in the rice fields of Ishikawa Prefecture taking advantage of the rich soil and refreshing water of the Noto Peninsula

¥540¥8,230Select options

Koshihikari Amore Organic Brown Rice from Japan

Koshihikari Amore Organic Brown Rice from Japan

Koshihikari Amore Organic Brown Rice is raised in the rice fields of Ishikawa Prefecture taking advantage of the rich soil and refreshing water of the Noto Peninsula.

¥540¥8,230Select options

Amazake – Dream of Brown Rice

Amazake – Dream of Brown Rice

Pure organic sweet non-alcohol sake, a nutritious fermented drink made only from natural brown rice and rice enzymes (koji) with no added sugar.

¥3,180¥4,680Select options

Shiga Koshihikari Organic Rice

Shiga Koshihikari Organic Rice

Grown naturally in Toyama, Shiga Koshihikari Organic Rice has  a tantalizing sweetness, stickiness, and fragrance.

¥4,455¥4,725Select options