Yamada-nishiki is a variety of rice. It is mainly used for sake (rice wine) brewing, and it is called the king of sake rice.
It was created by artificially hybridizing 'Yamada Ear' and 'Dwarf Watashibune' at Hyogo Prefectural Agricultural Experiment Station (now Hyogo Prefectural Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery Technology General Center) in Yashiro Town, Kato County, Hyogo Prefecture (present-day Kato City) in 1923, and its adaptability to the production areas was tested in sake rice production regions (presently, sake rice testing areas) in 1928. In 1936, the rice was named 'Yamada-nishiki' and became the recommendable variety of Hyogo Prefecture. Although it has been cultivated across Japan ever since, Yamada-nishiki produced in Hyogo Prefecture accounts for 80% of the national yield.
Miki City and a part of Kato City, especially, are designated as the 'area graded special A,' and the rice produced in these areas is particularly valued, as expressed by a saying: 'Before buying good sake rice, you should buy good land.'
(however, the designation of the area as a good rice-producing land is based on the historical association with that particular production area, and this does not necessarily reflect the quality of rice produced there.)
(This is greatly different from the system of the area designation for the cultivation of edible rice, which renews its evaluation every year). In addition, the northern limit of the cultivation of Yamada-nishiki is Yoshikawa-ku, Joetsu City, Niigata Prefecture.
Place of origin:
Taka Town, Taka County, Hyogo Prefecture.
Main producing areas:
Miki City, Kato City, Nishiwaki City, and Taka Town, Taka County, Hyogo Prefecture.
3534 ha in Hyogo Prefecture (2007).
Land suitability for the cultivation of Yamada-nishiki:
The cultivation is carried out in the mountain areas or basins where the paddy soil is argilliferous, particularly in the valleys and basins between medium-sized mountains with their eastern and western sides wide and open, where the day temperature difference during the summer is more than 10ºC.
The grain of rice is large and the starchy part in the middle called 'shinpaku' is also large and prominent in the center of the grain.
It contains low protein fat.
The grain of Yamada-nishiki is larger and whiter in the middle than the grain of normal rice.
It is suitably cultivated where the soil is argilliferous and the temperature difference between the day and night is considerable in summer.
Because the stalks of Yamada-nishiki are long, they are easily bent down when the strong wind blows. And if they are bent down, the quality of rice will be deteriorated.
As it is easily affected by bacterial rice blight, it is more difficult to cultivate it than normal rice.