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Japanese Ingredients for the World’s Top Kitchens #35

INOCHI NO ICHI’ RICE

A New Cultivar, Sold as “Ryu no Hitomi”

2023.12.07

text by Michiko Watanabe / photographs by Daisuke Nakajima / English text by Susan Rogers Chikuba

One fall morning in 2000, Takashi Imai found a dozen or so unusually tall rice plants growing amid the Koshihikari in his terraced paddy.

One fall morning in 2000, Takashi Imai found a dozen or so unusually tall rice plants growing amid the Koshihikari in his terraced paddy. Closer inspection, confirmed later by genetic testing, revealed them to be unrelated to Koshihikari and possibly derived from Javanica rather than the Japonica race. He sowed the seeds the following year and by 2006 the new cultivar ‘Inochi no Ichi’ was named and registered.

“It’s tricky to grow,” says Imai. “The seeds don’t always take, the plant is susceptible to disease once the grain ripens, and harvest is later than other varieties. But the grains are 1.5 times larger and heavier than Koshihikari and the rice is flavorful and sweet, with a pleasant reedy scent.” Sold as Ryu no Hitomi, the rice has Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) certification and organic production is now in testing.


Some of the 100+ contract growers for Ryu no Hitomi are outside of Gifu prefecture, but all of the rice is processed for market in Gero.

(photo left)  Imai inspects grains delivered for milling.
(photo right)It's easy to imagine the reedy, wild taste from the plant's height. 

At harvest time in late September to early October the yellow fields contrast beautifully with the surrounding woods. 

(photo left)Pristine water runs through the nearby Gandate gorge. 
(photo right)Grains for porridge, a multigrain mix for steaming with rice, and boil-in-the-bag brown-rice products are among Imai's offerings. 

Imai in his agrochemical-free field.



◎Ryu no Hitomi
1068 Ogahora, Hagiwara-cho, Gero-shi, Gifu
☎0576-54-1801 
https://www.ryunohitomi.co.jp/

(The Cuisine Magazine / December  2017)

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