Created for expats living in Japan

How to Plant and Grow Rice

Do you know how rice, Japan's national staple food, is produced? What is the difference between brown rice and white rice? Here is an overview of the entire rice-growing process, from planting to harvesting.

Plant Rice Seedlings in April

Early in April, fertilizers are sprinkled. Farmers line up at the edge of the field, hold a bunch of rice seedlings, and take 4 stocks out of it, and plant them into the mud. Then they walk backward and plant again and walk backward. The mud is so sticky that you can easily loose your balance and could fall on the mud.

Most farmers use a tractor to plant seedlings as it goes much faster than planting by hands.

Remove Algae and Wait for the Rice to Grow

In May, as the temperature get warmer, green algae starts floating on the paddy field and it needs to be removed. You can find tadpoles and frogs in the field.



Time to Harvest

In June and July, the rice stocks multiply and grow taller. In the end of  August, the paddy field becomes golden. It’s  time to harvest. 

With this machine called “Binder”, the rice is automatically cut and bound. Then they hang the bunches on the poles to dry.  It is called Hazakake, a golden curtain of rice in the field. Nowadays, most of the farmers use machine harvesters therefore it is rare to see such curtains.

10 days later, the rice dries. They separate grains from the stalks using another machine thresher. After threshing, the rice becomes unhulled rice like this.

When rice is harvested in the rice paddies and only the seed pods are threshed out, this is what is left. After wintering, the seed is sown and germinates to become rice again.

The husked rice is then hulled (hulling) and is called brown rice. White rice, which is commonly found in Japan, is made by further polishing from brown rice. 

For Sustainable Society

The above rice cultivation is part of Tokyo Lease Corporation’s activities.

Many elderly farmers have no successors, and the number of abandoned rice paddies is increasing. Paddy fields are habitats for birds, frogs, and fish, and rice cultivation also helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It is a very meaningful way to achieve a sustainable society for our precious planet.