food

Manga helping rejuvenate rice sales in Japan

9 Comments
By Philip Kendall

Despite it being the backbone of the country’s agricultural industry, rice consumption in Japan is on the decline.

While favorites like sushi and donburi continue to be enjoyed, increasingly few young Japanese sit down to a bowl of rice with their meal compared to even ten years ago, with more and more people are choosing bread and pasta instead, citing their convenience and “cooler” image.

In the past, both morning and evening meals in Japan were comprised of rice, a bowl of miso soup and fish, meat or vegetables. Lunch, too, often included rice or onigiri rice-balls. While the nation still continues to eat vast amounts of the stuff, and we’re in no danger of losing cute and creative bento packed lunches any time soon, it has been revealed that Japan now consumes more bread than it does rice, and that rice farming is in trouble.

In an effort to keep its rice industry alive, however, Japan Agriculture, along with a host of rice producers, have struck upon an idea that’s proving to be a big hit and putting a little cool back into the nations staple food.

Introducing: The Moe Rice Revolution

The concept of putting cute or sexy characters on rice bags, known as "Moegome," first sprang up in Akita Prefecture, when bright sparks at JA struck upon the idea of putting popular game characters drawn by artist Aoi Nishimata on their bags of rice. The project was a huge hit, and prompted a host of other rice manufacturers to follow suit.

At the opposite end of the country to Akita, Fukuoka Prefecture launched a series of manga-inspired rice-bags that soon become massively sought-after and were collected almost for the designs alone. Their rice was packaged in bags that depicted seven rice gods from local folklore, titled "Komekami," inspiring consumers to buy the complete set, eventually leading to the production of a limited edition box-set featuring one of each of the designs.

But it’s not just rice packaging that’s being used to reinvent the food -- a whole host of comics and short anime series now exist that focus entirely on rice.

"Tanakasan no Hakumaichan" (Tanaka’s Girl White rice), for instance, is a manga that tells the story of a young man who spends his days with a tiny girl who pops out of his rice cooker each morning. The girl, Hakumai-chan, is supposed to represent freshly-cooked white rice, and helps Tanaka through his days by providing healthy meals for him to enjoy.

While at first this might sound about as enticing or original as a grade-school campaign run by teachers to make homework and eating your broccoli “cool”, getting past the fact that Tanaka’s rice is talking to him and expects to be eaten, the manga is genuinely well written and contains some laugh-out-loud moments.

Since bread and pasta have become so popular in Japan, rice has slowly come to be seen as a little fuddy-duddy and something that only the older generation eat a lot of. Young men living alone rarely care to take the time to wash, soak and cook their own rice every day, and instead opt for quicker meal options. But with campaigns like JA’s and well-written manga series like Yonechan, Komeko and Hakumai, Japan’s otaku community are rediscovering their love of the food and making the effort to eat it more often.

It would seem that rice is fast becoming an otaku food in Japan, and that the key to the country’s farming industry might well lie in the hands of the same men who frequent maid cafes in Akihabara.

Source: DDNavi

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©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.


9 Comments
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Otaku rice? Ha ha. Is there any trick marketers won't stoop to?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Great, I can see otaku stocking a collection on unused rice bags full of K-On! girls now as not to reduce the value of an unopened bag. Replace CCGs with bags of rice.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan now consumes more bread than it does rice

Time they started getting some half-decent bread in the supermarkets, then.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Despite it being the backbone of the country’s agricultural industry, rice consumption in Japan is on the decline.

Partially I hope due to the improved health education and information out there about the risks involved with having too much white rice in one's diet. A daily diet of white rice, 3 times a day, dramatically increases one's chances of contracting Type 2 diabetes over time. White rice, which has been refined, has the husk, bran and germ layers removed, so just the white inner kernel remains. Removing the outer layers removes much of the nutritional value;

In the past, both morning and evening meals in Japan were comprised of rice, a bowl of miso soup and fish, meat or vegetables. Lunch, too, often included rice or onigiri rice-balls

Actually going back a bit further, before Japanese had the money to eat white rice everyday, the average family down here in Okinawa at least, ate white rice maybe 2 or 3 times a year, particularly on special occasions, that also helped to improve the life expectancy, among other dietary reasons of course, of the Okinawan people. Which however (sadly) will change over the coming generation, partially due to the increased consumption of white rice.

Glad to see that Japanese people are getting smarter about their diets!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

“Tanakasan no Hakumaichan” (Tanaka’s Girl White rice), for instance, is a manga that tells the story of a young man who spends his days with a tiny girl who pops out of his rice cooker each morning. The girl, Hakumai-chan, is supposed to represent freshly-cooked white rice, and helps Tanaka through his days by providing healthy meals for him to enjoy

Christ, where to start? A title which appears to be going for the world record of least-imaginative-title-in-the history-of blandness. She "represents" freshly-cooked white rice - in what way? The young man spends his days with something he imagines whilst scooping starch out of a machine - no job to go to, then? White rice (devoid of any nutrition or fibre) = healthy meals?

How do these people take this crap day in and day out? Why won't somebody grow up?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

**

Manga helping rejuvenate rice sales in Japan

Yeah, ok, so that will last for like five minutes.

zichi-

What is 16 grain rice?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Despite it being the backbone of the country’s agricultural industry, rice consumption in Japan is on the decline.

Great, so the government is supporting, through taxes, a dying industry based on some kind of myth that rice is a staple of the Japanese diet.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

look like adult toys. hope these wont be overdone like "Tanakasan no *****"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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