Top 5 Most Popular Japanese Rice Varieties You Should Try!

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By Ashley Woodward • Last Updated: February 16, 2023 is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Top 5 Most Popular Japanese Rice Varieties You Should Try!

Koshihikari, Hitomebore, Akitakomachi, Yamada Nishiki, and Sasanishiki are few of the most popular Japanese rice varieties that are making waves globally. Get to know which among these brands will match your taste buds!

Did you know that there’s an annual rice tasting in Japan? The Japan Grain Inspection Association is dedicated to grading the different rice cultivars in the country and each brand receives a ranking. The evaluators rate the grains according to taste, aroma, and stickiness.

Here’s the Top 5 Most Popular Japanese Rice Varieties based on consumer reviews!

#1 Koshihikari


Koshihikari is so far the most esteemed Japanese rice variety across the country and to most parts of the world.

It is a cultivated variety of Japonica rice, created in 1956 by incorporating 2 different strains of Nourin No.1 and Nourin No.22.

In fact, this Japanese rice variety is tagged as a premium export product. Its name represents the Koshi Province which is presently covering from Fukui to Yamagata regions.

Koshihikari has a fuller flavor and stickier in texture which makes it ideal for restaurant dining. If you love eating rice in Japanese restaurants, then you’ll understand that the grain they used could be the Koshihikari.

Today, there are a lot of Koshihikari brands you can choose from. Most of them are cultivated from Japan while others are grown worldwide.

Koshihikari’s popularity has spread globally and is now making waves in creating a lot dishes than just sticking to the Japanese cuisine.

#2 Sasanishiki


The second most-loved Japanese rice variety is the Sasanishiki. This cultivar is perfect for sushi because of its distinct features.

Good sushi is something that retains its flavor and shape even after a few hours. This is where the Sasanishiki grain focused on. It can keep the same taste even when it has cooled down.

However, there are still plenty of dishes you can make with this Japanese rice.

Sasanishiki comes from the Japonica category and is a combination of Hatsunishiki and Sasashigure strains at the Furukawa Agricultural Experiment Station in 1963.

Throughout then, the cultivation of this grain has spread widely to cope up with the demands of the exports.

This Japanese rice variety is from Sendai, Japan, and is also being exported worldwide. Most of its recipients are sushi restaurants, where some popular names in the industry openly recommend Sasanishiki.

#3 Yamada Nishiki

Nishiki Premium Rice

Yamada Nishiki ranks third most popular Japanese rice variety. It is famous for its sake quality because the grains have the ability to absorb and dissolve water quickly.

Many sake brewers around the world use Yamada Nishiki, however, only the first three classes are used for premium sake.

There are 5 classes of this rice variety and the highest class is, of course, the most expensive ones.

You can get the highest class of Yamada Nishiki rice roughly at 30,000 Yen which is only about 60 kilograms. But, many sake-brewers still are having a hard time finding the first-class strain, unless you have a contact and good relationship with the growers.

There are good quality Yamada Nishiki grains available for purchase and consumption. Yamada Nishiki is not limited to sake-brewing only but also caters to a lot of mouth-watering dishes.

However, if you are planning to use it for sake, you might need to use a higher class variety if not the first class.

#4  Akitakomachi

Ever wondered why Japanese rice is so close to pearl-white color? The answer depends on the variety of the grain.

Ever since I got to learn more about rice, it’s been my personal concern as to why all the Japanese rice I have come to know has one denominator- luster.

The white and glossy appearance of Akitakomachi makes it ideal for sushi and onigiri balls. Its unique taste and quality make it stand out among other Japanese grains.

Akitakomachi is sticky, chewy, and quite hard in texture and retains its shape and moisture even when cooled down. You’ll see the grains shining blissfully when boiling and it makes you crave for it even more.

Most of the Japanese rice dishes that are shaped into something (cooking is an art in Japan) needs an excellent rice variety, especially those that can hold the shape into and maintain its taste.

This rice grain is mainly cultivated in the Akita province and a sub-variety of Koshihikari. The grain was named after Ono-no-Komachi, who was a singer from the Heian period and from the Akita region.

#5 Hitomebore

Hitomebore is another sub-variety of the Koshihikari family. Its grains are lighter, softer, and stickier than Koshihikari. It also has a unique luster when cooked.

While Koshihikari grains are smaller, Hitomebore has bigger ones. It is ideal for a side dish or maybe a bowl of sumptuous fried rice.

This grain was first grown in the Miyagi Prefecture and is now cultivated throughout the country, mainly in the Tohoku region.

Because this rice variety is lighter than the Koshihikari, it is suitable for any kind of Japanese food including sashimi.

So What’s The Best Japanese Rice Variety?

Clearly , we can see that Koshihikari is the most popular type of Japanese rice because it resembles the authentic Japanese taste.

Apart from that, Koshihikari became the standard of the rest of the rice varieties grown and produced. However, I must say that using the correct type of rice for your desired recipe is ideal to achieve great taste and appearance.

Don’t be afraid to explore other types of Japanese rice! Here are the many dishes you can try with Koshihikari rice:


There are still plenty of rice varieties in Japan as they continue to study and grow different strains. Sooner we’ll have more delicious Japanese rice to taste and compare which ones are excellent for what kinds of dishes.

You see, in this post, you will understand that rice plays a vital role in Japan. And Japanese people treat this grain with absolute respect.

Every rice variety has a distinct feature and is suitable to one or more dishes. However, you can simply cook any of these rice varieties as a side to your dinner.

I hope you get to try one if not all of the top 5 most popular Japanese rice varieties so you too will understand what I mean. 😉