November 07, 12 | Fumiko Magota
"Yamashita's Rice Shop" Iwamizawa City
Looking forward to delicious rice from this year’s great harvest?!
Currently Hokkaido is the leading producer of rice in Japan. The top region for rice cultivation in Hokkaido is located in Sorachi, with about half of its farm land devoted to growing the delicious staple. Sorachi is located just a little bit west of the center of Hokkaido.
▲ By about mid-September the golden color of rice plants can be seen all around Sorachi.
I visited "Yamashita's Rice Shop" in Sorachi to get more information. The farm shop, which handles the rice from cultivation to sales, is located an hour's drive north of Sapporo, in Iwamizawa City. I was able to sit down with Mr. Yoshitaka Nakanishi, a third generation farmer, for an interview.
▲ "Our fields are terraced and produce a really sticky kind of rice. We're currently trying to become a competitor of Hazakake Rice (a famous brand of rice)." said Mr. Nakanishi.
When I visited the farm, they were at the climax of the work year, in the process of shelling this year's rice! (This takes place in early October.)
▲ The rice is shelled and packaged in large bags.
▲ The bagged rice is then inspected in the warehouse.
▲ From the fields at the end of the harvest. These trucks will now dig up the topsoil for reclamation.
I asked Mr. Nakanishi what he thought about the taste of local Hokkaido rice. "The rice here has become especially delicious in the past 10 years. I think it has something to do with the effects of global warming. The area has become much more friendly towards the softer, stickier kinds of rice, especially Seven Star and Pikari Dream. Personally I like the Kirara 397 variety, which has a sweet taste and tastes best while still warm."
Allow me to introduce some of the rice varieties Mr Nakanishi has cultivated. Mr. Nakanishi graciously provided commentary for each.
(Left) Seven Star (Nanatsu Boshi). "This rice was first produced in Sorachi, so you'll see it a lot around Hokkaido. The balance between sweetness and stickiness is superb."
(Right) Kirara 397. "This rice features a sweet flavor with a feeling of umami. It has a grainy texture making it ideal for fried rice and risotto dishes."
(Center) Star Dream (Hoshi no Yume). "A delicious, soft rice with a great taste."
(Left) Pirika Dream (Yume Pirika). "This rice combines the best aspect of Seven Star and Hazy Moon rice. Sticky and sweet with a glossy shine. Some people call this the best rice in Hokkaido."
(Right) Hazy Moon (Oboro Zuki). "Full of flavor, this rice has one of the stickiest textures, making it perfect for fried rice dishes."
So, dear readers, which type of rice above peaked your interest? Personally I love the "Pirika Dream." Be sure to try each kind at least once!
〈山下米穀店〉 (Yamashita's Rice Shop)
Location: 6-1, 7-Jyo Nishi 11-Chome, Iwamizawa City
URL: http://www.yamashita-rice.com/ (Japanese)
(Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer - Fukko)
(Photographs provided by Isao Kawamura and 山下米穀店)