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A dietary staple that plays an integral role in Japan's gastronomic culture

Hokkaido is a major producer of rice, boasting Japan’s largest crop acreage and yield. Most rice grown in Japan is from the Japonica variety, which has a rounder pill-like shape and stickier texture compared to the Indica or Javanica varieties. Varieties that are particularly sticky are known as glutinous rice. These can be processed into mochi rice cake after steaming. In addition, just about every party of Hokkaido also grows rice ideal for brewing Japanese sake, or rice wine. Rice is a staple of the Japanese people’s diet and is the center of Japanese cuisine. Yet rice goes well with Japanese, Chinese and Western cuisine, so despite Japan’s diversifying gastronomic culture, rice is consumed in large amounts not only at home, but also at restaurants and even fast food chains.


Most non-glutinous rice is cultivated from the Sorachi region and Iwamizawa City to Asahikawa City. Glutinous rice is mainly grown in Nayoro City, which is well known for this type of rice, as well as other northern parts of Hokkaido.


■ Map / Main producing municipalities

・ Total yield amount (non-glutinous & glutinous rice)
Iwamizawa City, Asahikawa City, Fukagawa City, Bibai City, Shintotsukawa Town, Nayoro City, Tohma Town,  Shibetsu City, Numata Town, Takasu Town

Top-ten ranked municipalities in total yield are shown in the graph. Source: FY2013 Crop Statistics compiled by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Hokkaido-grown rice continues to receive high marks from consumers across Japan

Rice cultivation in Hokkaido has developed over the years by overcoming the harsh climate that includes cold temperatures and heavy snowfall. Since the variety called Kirara 397 debuted in 1989, breeding has been used to develop other types of Hokkaido rice that taste better and withstand the cold climate better. The Nanatsuboshi and Yumepirika varieties are highly acclaimed for their glossy appearance, sticky texture and great balance of sweetness. Both have received the Toku-A ranking, the highest possible, in taste tests performed by the Japan Grain Inspection Association. Currently, Hokkaido is cultivating rice in a more safe and secure manner by taking advantage of its colder climate to use less agricultural chemicals.

Rice Family

  • Nanatsuboshi
    Nanatsuboshi is the variety with the largest yield of any Hokkaido-grown rice. It cooks up plumply and with a glossy finish, providing a perfect balance of stickiness and sweetness, which is a combination enjoyed by many Japanese consumers. This variety goes well with any type of cuisine. It is also delicious when served cold, making it ideal for bento and sushi.
  • Yumepirika
    Yumepirika is a high end variety that has received acclaim as the culmination of breeding technologies applied to Hokkaido-grown rice. Known for its rich sweetness and sticky texture, Yumepirika's quality is managed according to rigorous standards. Yumepirika is best enjoyed plain.
  • Fukkurinko
    Fukkurinko offers a plump texture and glossy finish that all rice aspires for. Born in the Southern Hokkaido region, only Fukkurinko rice that receives the certification mark after passing rigorous quality standards determined among producers is shipped to consumers. This rice goes great with fish dishes and also in onigiri and other Japanese foods.
  • Kirara 397
    Kirara 397 debuted in 1989 and completely changed peoples' view of Hokkaido-grown rice, which until then was not very good. It offers a full body texture and a rich sweetness that seems to grow with every bite. This variety is best when served in donburi, pilaf and fried rice, making it widely used among nationwide restaurant chains.
  • Hakuchomochi
    Hakuchomochi is one of the most well known glutinous rice varieties in Hokkaido because of its many years of production. It offers a chewy and sticky body with a soft texture ideal for sekihan and okowa as well as Japanese sweets such as daifuku and ohagi. It is also popular among consumers because it can easily be cooked at home in an ordinary rice cooker.
  • Ginpu
    This variety of rice is perfect for sake brewing because it determines the taste and aroma of the final product that is rice wine, and it became the impetus behind the growing popularity of brewing Japanese sake using Hokkaido-grown rice. This rice produces a very mellow rice wine and it has seen a boost in production volume because of the recent boom in Japanese sake.


Rice cultivation in Hokkaido begins in April when seedlings are grown in greenhouses. Rice paddies are flooded with water in May and the seedlings are planted around the middle of the month. The rice stalks flower in summer and are harvested around the middle of September. Later, rice is dried, hulled and sorted. It is shipped as new rice only after passing legally required inspections.

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Processed Foods

Rice is used by many types of restaurants, from high end sushi eateries to gyudon chains. It is also sold in onigiri and bento at convenience stores and supermarkets for easy and convenient meals. Rice is also made into sweets such as rice crackers and kakimochi, and in recent years the number of breads and Western sweets made from rice flour is on the rise. Glutinous rice is made into sekihan and okowa and also widely used as an ingredient in daifuku and ohagi. Recently, exports of Japanese sake made from Hokkaido-grown rice have been expanding.