The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Good Japanese Rice

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  • March 23, 2015
The ultimate guide to cooking japanese rice

Kinds Of Rice

Hi, Rina here.
There are all kinds of rice in the world, like red rice and black rice, and they each go well with certain type of food. In this post, I will introduce you to various kinds of japanese rice, and the best way to cook it. Japanese rice is sticky, and is easy to eat with chopsticks. They are what you see in all the japanese manga and anime, and what we use in all of our bento recipes.

There are about 400 cultivars of rice in japan. even living in Japan, i was astonished by this number. I feel that its a cultral gift that we have been eating rice since centuries ago. By the way, my husband prefers bread over rice. the topic of rice vs bread is a very common debate in japan… Back to the real topic of this post. Here is the list of the most popular rice brands that we see in Japanese grocery stores.


Each kind has its own distinct character.

kinds of rice


This brand is so famous that it is like the representative of delicious rice. The aroma, the luster, the stickiness, and the flavor is overall very good. You’ll taste its sweetness the more you chew on it, and it even tastes good when its cooled down. Not only is this kind famous, its also many people’s first choice of rice.


As you can guess from its name, this is a kind that is mainly grown in Akita prefecture in Japan. Some of the surrounding prefectures also grow this kind.
The character of this kind is that they’re more chewy than other brands. they’re also not as expensive as Koshihikari, keeping it a reasonable price but still delicious.


this brand is just as popular as Koshihikari. Opposed to Koshihikari, Sasanishiki is lightly flavored and has a distinct softness.
They are often used for sushi because they are well suited for vinegared rice.The sushi topic can go very deep, and the more you know the more interesting it gets, but we’ll get into that on a different day.


This kind has good flavor, chewiness, and fluffyness. They have a large crop yield next to koshihikari, and they are also a very popular cultivar.

So those are the 4 most well known kinds of rice that we can buy in pretty much any super market in Japan. They’re all very good, and its only a matter of preference which kind you should choose.
If you go to a Japanese food market in the United States, there are usually many more kinds on the shelf. Go ahead and try the ones you think you might like.

Level Of Polishing

Depending on the level of polishing, the texture will be different, and the nutrition will change as well. Polishing is, to put it simple, the process of making brown rice into white rice.

white rice

White rice

White rice is the most distributed and the most popular rice in japan. They are rice with the rice bran and embryo buds removed. There are also rinse-free rice that you don’t need to wash before use. these types already have unwanted debree washed away in the polishing process.

brown rice

Brown rice

This is the rice that just has the husk removed. they are brown, and has more nutrients than white rice meaning they are better for your health. However, many people prefer white rice over whole rice because whole rice has a peculiar flavor.


Half-milled rice

This is when only 50% of bran is removed from whole rice. They stand between white rice and brown rice, and they are suited for all kinds of recipes. There also exists types where 30% or 70%of the bran is removed.

germinated rice

Germinated brown rice

Instead of polishing, this type of rice is made by keeping whole rice in tepid water until they start to sprout. It is actually easier to eat than whole rice, and are also rich in nutrition.


Glutinous rice (mochi rice)

This type of rice is used to make mochi, red rice for auspicious occasions, and rice made snacks.
Glutinous rice has slightly different genes from regular Japanese rice, having less starchy material, making it very very sticky.

In japanese culture, there is a new years event that we call “mochitsuki” . We basically make mochi by continuosly hitting mochi rice with a big wooden hammer. Fresh mochi is sooo good! We dont see mochitsuki in japan as much as we used to anymore, which is sad. But there are now mochi making machines for home out in the market.
You have to be careful when eating mochi because since they are very rubbery and sticky, every year about 100 people in japan is reported to get mochi stuck
in their throat and get carried to the hospital.

How to cook Japanese rice with a rice cooker

How good rice tastes greatly depends on how you cook it. ill teach you how to cook awesome rice like a japanese person.

measure the rice


First, measure the amont of rice using the specified measuring cup and put it in the cleaned rice cooker pot. We measure rice in an unit called “go”. 1go equals to about 150ml of uncooked rice.
rice measuring cups usually come with rice cookers, or rice containers. one full level (not heapful) cup measures 1go. You must not underestimate how much measuring presicely contributes to the outcome. If you put a little too much, your rice could be a little bit hard when theyre done. 1go of rice will serve a fairy large meal for a person. 2go would serve about 3 bowls of rice.

2. Rinse

The next step is to wash the rice. if youre using rinse-free rice, you should skip this step. The secret is to do it quick and gently. First put plenty of water and stir about 2 or 3 times with a clean hand and drain the water. If you keep the rice in this water for too long, it will end up with an unpleasant smell when its done. Next, stir the rice gently in the remaining water. if you do it too hard you’ll damage the rice and can break them. Don’t forget to keep the motion quick! As you stir the rice, the water will become white. Add more water and drain the pot again. Repeat this process 2 to 4 times until the water stays transparent.

measure the water

3. Add clean water

Add clean water to the pot to level of the scale on the inner side of the pot. Make sure you have the pot on a flat surface to be able measure precisely. Too much water will result in the rice being too mushy. My husband likes his rice slightly hard and i like it slightly softer than normal. so sometimes we control this with adjusting the amount of water we cook the rice with.


4. Cook

Make sure that the rice is sitting flat in the water so that there wont be any unevenness when its done. Follow the instructions on the users manual for your rice cooker and press the cook button.Some of the rice cookers will require time before pressing the cook button to lit the rice sit in the water. however, most ricer cookers nowadays will have that time included after you press the button. Likely, it is recommended you leave the rice in the water if you are going to use the fast cook option.

5. Break it loose

When rice is done, open the lid and break rice loose like you are allowing air to flow from the bottom of the pot. This is an important process in order to get rid of excess moisture. If you leave the rice cooked too long without opening the lid, you can end up with very sticky rice and all your effort will be a waste.One time, i have forgotten that i cooked rice and left it on keep warm mode for a couple of days. when i opened the lid, the rice had dried up like a mummy, and I felt really bad for the rice. make sure you don’t make the same mistake that i made.

If you’re using rinse free rice or brown rice, the best way to cook rice would partially be different. make sure you read your rice cookers instructions thoroughly. Modern rice cookers will likely have different cooking options for each type of rice. There may also be a different measuring cup specialized for rinse free rice. When using brown rice, its better to damage the rice while rinsing it to make it easier for the rice to absorb water.

How to cook rice without a rice cooker

Now i will show you how to cook rice with a regular cooking pot.
One time in the past, our electronic rice cooker broke down and we had to cook rice using this method but the rice came out great. after that we actually kept using this method even after the new replacement of the rice cooker has arrived. There is an disadvantage that there is no way to keep the rice for a long time, but you can always make onigiri with the leftover rice and eat it later.
(this is a tutorial for white rice)

All you will need is some kind of pot. the best choice would be a thick pot thats teflon-lined, but any pot would work as long as you have a lid that you can properly cover the pot. The standard is to use 200ml of water per 1go (180ml)of rice.

1. Measure and rinse the rice just as you would when using a rice cooker. you might want to use a bowl for this if you find it hard to rinse in your pot.

2. The major difference from cooking with a ricecooker is that you have let the rice sit in the water for a period of time before you start cooking it. This process helps the rice to be heated to the core quickly when being cooked. Leave the rice in the water for about 30mins if its summertime, and about an hour if its winter. However, this is only a guide. check the color of rice and if looks very white, its ready to be cooked.

3. When the rice is ready to be cooked, move the rice in the pot and add the appropriate amount of water.

4.Put it on medium heat without the lid on until the water starts to boil. Then put the lid on, and keep it in medium heat for 2minutes. Next, lower the heat a little and wait for 3 minutes. After that, simmer for 5-7minutes in low heat. Open the lid and check if there isnt too much water left. it it looks good, close the lid again and put it on high heat for just 10 seconds. If you smell the rice burning, stop the heat immediately, even before you count to 10.

5.Turn the heat off, and with the lid on the pot, let it steam for 10 minutes.
This will cause the lid to drip, so its best if you can put some clean cloth in between the lid and the pot.