The Other Things I Do Around Here

The Other Things I do Around Here

Though I am living the Bonsai life, I’m not necessarily always doing Bonsai.  Many of you may have already known that but perhaps others didn’t.  Since I’m living with the family here at Aichien, I have other duties to the family other then Bonsai as well.  In this post I’m going to share with you all one of the most basic duties I have but yet, one of the most important. Polishing Rice!  Most people think of rice as something you buy at the store and is cooked at home.  For the most part, that’s true, but here in Japan, there is one extra step that many people outside of the country don’t know about.  Rice is very important in Japan is regarded as the main source of food in Japan.  It’s much like potatoes to many European countries.  I thought it would be fun to share this small bit of Japanese culture with everybody, so let’s go for a ride.

One of the first things I noticed when driving in Central Japan is the random rice fields.  I’ll be going down a street with tall buildings and all of a sudden, there’s a rice field and then more buildings right after.  Since land is so precious here in Japan, it seems like the people will grow food where ever they can.  Since there are rice fields around us, we mainly buy the rice from a local farmer.  Every now and then we would get into the car and drive down to pick up about three bags of rice.  Each bag weighs about 30kgs (66lbs).  Guess who got to pick those things up?  We took them home and I carried them into the house.  Rice taken cared of right? …ummm… about no…

One day Mr. Tanaka called me and said, “we need to polish the rice.”  I wasn’t sure what that was all about but he pointed to one of the bags and told me to take it to the car.  We drove a couple of blocks and we parked right next to this booth in the corner of the street.  Here’s is what rice polishing is all about.

The first thing I did was open up the rice bag and pour all 30kgs of it into this feed.  Notice how the rice is brownish in color.  The husk of the rice has already been removed but the rice itself is still a light brown coating.

Then Mr. Tanaka would put in about 400yen into the machine and select how white he wants the rice to be.  The machine turns on and the rice starts making its way through.

I placed the empty bag on this side of the machine to collect the polished rice.

Here’s a comparison of the before and after of the polishing process.  Now that’s the white rice I know and love!

Here’s Hiyu (Mr. Tanaka’s youngest son) checking out the feed.  Don’t worry, there are big strong screen bars that prevent big things, including children from getting caught in the machine.

Hiyu decided to leave a present for the machine.  It’s a tiny fire trunk!  Tiny enough to go right through the protective bars.  Good thing we caught it in time!

Here’s Juan( getting in on the action!

Juan and I thought this was a really funny picture.  I’ll leave it at that…

After all the rice was polished, we tied the bag and went home.  Here’s a shot of me carrying the big rice bag!  Mr. Tanaka asked if it was heavy and I said, “no, pretty light.”

I should have just said it was light!

After the process, I asked Mr. Tanaka what it was so important to polish the rice.  He pretty much said that when the brown coating is removed, the rice doesn’t taste as grainy and has a cleaner taste and a chewier texture.  That works for me!

Thanks for coming along for the ride.  Next time you can carry the rice!

Thanks for reading.

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15 thoughts on “The Other Things I Do Around Here

  1. Vic Tomasyan says:

    That does it!!! I was just about to apply to become an apprentice like you when you show up doing weight lifting. I could never get that off the ground! Will have to give up the idea of becoming a Bonsai Master and leave the lifting to you.

    Great post Peter. See you soon. Cheers Vic

  2. Peter says:

    Thanks for an interesting look at Japanese life.

  3. Ron says:

    All you need is a T-Shirt that says polish this!

  4. Jeremiah Lee says:

    I love posts like this. It’s really fun to see differences in culture and everyday things that we think are so normal. Great Post thanks!

  5. Steve Moore says:

    Cheryl is right: many of the nutrients are concentrated in the brown layer. But when you are used to something, when it tastes “right” a certain way — most people do what we’re comfortable with. (Yes, including me.)

    Thanks for the post. I must admit that at first I had visions of doing all that polishing by hand! But I should have realized right away that the Japanese would come up with a machine to get it done!

  6. Kenny says:


    Sounds like fun. Glad you are having sooo much fun!

  7. Michael Markoff says:

    The Japanese are such practical and inventive people. Maybe they use the rice husks for something useful; biofuel? Bonsai compost? Fabric/paper?

  8. Steve Ristau says:

    Man, at first I thought you were going to clean the rice grain-by-grain as a lesson in patience and discipline. Great story!

  9. Dave Williams says:

    Pretty cool Peter! Your turning out to be well polished yourself!

  10. Mary says:

    Thank you so much. Having never been to Japan … who knew!

  11. cherylas2009 says:

    isn’t it healthier to leave more of the brown husk on? I have always been told to get coarser rices like black japanioca as it is less refined and better for you. I think it is cool that there are rice processing stations and the Japanese don’t each have to purchase their own equipment for this. Very efficient.

    your posts are always interesting!

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