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Table of contents

Components of Rice:

• Carbohydrate 70-75% (mostly starches) • Proteins • Lipids • Minerals • Vitamins

Japonica Rice:

• Japonica is the main type of cultivated rice in Japan with around 250 different types, separated into two main families: table and Sake rice.

Sakamai / Shuzō kōtekimai:

• Family of rice used exclusively for making Sake. The grain of sakamai is bigger than table rice. Starches are concentrated in the grain's core, which has significant lower levels of proteins and lipids compared to table rice. There are around 120 different types of Sakamai, with more being developped by the Brewers Association and Japanese Agricultural Research Centres.

The main varieties based on production volume are:


• The most popular variety from key Sake producing Hyōgo prefecture. A cross-breed of Yamadabo and Wataribune. It is especially well-suited for producing highly aromatic, flavourful and elegant Sake.


• From Niigata prefecture. A cross-breed of Kikusui and Shin No. 200. This rice is an early-growing one that was developed for cold regions. It has a large shinpaku and favours the production of smooth, light and dry Sake.


• From Nagano. A hardy variety. This rice is grown in the harsher climates of Northern Japan, creating a gentle flavour with some creaminess.


• From Okayama prefecture. One of the oldest varieties, initially used as table rice. Also called ojiisan ("grandfather") of Sake rice, this is a late growing one with large grains and big shinpaku. It's characterised by distinctively tasting Sake full of rustic, earthy flavours as well as substantial Umami taste.


• From Yamagata prefecture. A cross-breed of Miyamanishiki and Aokei Sake No. 97. It's a medium-speed growing rice with a high shinpaku appearance rate. It produces Sake of distinct softness combined with a pronounced expansion of flavours on the palate.


• From Akita prefecture. Created through artificial cross-fertilisation of Akikeishu 251 Akikeishu 306 in order to receive a Sake rice that adopts well to the weather conditions in the north and has good brewing qualities. It has large grains that are suitable for high polishing while containing low protein concentrations and easy to digest starch. The resulting Sake has fine Umami and a light aftertaste.


• From Nagano prefecture: Developed by cross-breeding of Shirotaenishiki and Shinko No. 444 in order to get a variety that has better cultivation properties and is more suitable for high-end Sake than Miyamanishiki. It has a higher yield and shinpaku content. Sake made with this variety is light and has flavour that expands well on the palate.


• From Hokkaidō. A cross-breed of Hattannishiki No. 2 and Joiku No. 404 with Kirara 397 in order to get a rice of Ginjō-making quality. It has a big and distinct shinpaku and is very resistant to rice blast disease. Sake brewed with it is characteristically full-bodied.


• From Hiroshima prefecture. A group of brewing rice that all originated from local Hattansō. Hattan No. 35 and Hattannishiki No. 1 are currently Hiroshima's designated "brand varieties". The quality of Sake tends to have refreshing, light aroma and flavour.


• From Niigata prefecture. Created by cross-breeding Yamadanishiki and Goyhakumangoku. The idea behind that was to have a local rice variety that combined the advantages of the two and could be used for making Daiginjō. It has large grains with low content of protein that allow polishing rates of 40% and more.