The Five Great Rice Meals of Japan

    Five Great Rice Meals of Japan


    In 1939, The Imperial Household Agency selected a representative of local dishes nationwide. It was the five major rice dishes called “The Five Great Rice Meals of Japan”. These includes Fukagawa meshi (Tokyo, Fukagawa), Chushichi meshi (Ogawa-cho, Saitama), Sayori meshi (mountain region of Gifu prefecture), Kayaku meshi (Osaka, Namba region), Uzume meshi (Tsuwano region, Shimane prefecture)


    Rice is so important in Japanese society that it becomes the essence of the culture. Moreover, it manifests in numerous aspects of Japanese cultural life, ranging from folklore, festivals, and family rituals to arts, crafts, and cooking. The importance of rice in Japan can not be emphasize enough. Consequently, it is the source of traditional spirit, sake, and left as offerings to gods and ancestors. Rice cultivation happened for over 2,000 years in Japan. The cooked rice called “Gohan” or “meshi” is a staple food that has become part of its diet. The word “Kome” literally means rice in Japanese and refers to uncooked rice. Therefore, Japanese eat this regularly and even daily.  

    A sample of chicken donburi

    Additionally, the term “Don” is a suffix in Japanese dish names. Moreover, Don is the abbreviation for “Donburi (丼),” which refers to a rice bowl dish.



    Japanese consume about 9 million tons of rice a year. About three quarters of Japanese eat rice meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, the Japanese are eating less rice meals than they used to. In 1962, Japan’s economy was booming. And the annual consumption of rice per capita was 118.3 kilograms. It has dropped since, however, falling to 54.4 kilograms per person in 2016. Calculating one bowl of white rice as weighing 60 grams, Japanese people ate 5.4 bowls each day on average in 1962. While producers are making every effort to improve flavour and texture at agricultural experiment stations across the country, consumers’ move away from the former favourite staple shows no signs of slowing.

    These days many Japanese eat bread and noodles instead of rice meals.

    While Japanese people are not eating as much rice, their consumption of meat, milk and dairy products, and fats and oils has increased. In addition to the increased preference for a more Western-style diet, the tendency to eat less as people get older. A fall in the overall population are contributory factors to reduced rice meals consumption. In recent years, there has also been a huge trend of people aiming to stay slim by cutting down on carbohydrates.

    According to 2014 Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries survey, nearly half of the respondents said they chose not to eat rice meals in the evenings because they “want to try a wide variety of staple foods.” On busy mornings, people also prefer to choose staple foods other than rice that can be eaten quickly. Also, do not need much time for preparation and cleaning up. It seems, however, that Japanese people today fail to see its true value.


    The Five Great Rice Meals of Japan are the following.

    Chushichi meshi (忠七めし)

    Fukagawa meshi (深川めし)

    Sayori meshi (さより飯)

    Kayaku meshi (かやく飯)

    Uzume-meshi (うずめ飯)

    Five Great Rice Meals of Japan

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