Inekari, the rice harvest

September is the month for inekari — the rice harvest — in Japan, and to celebrate the season we feature this most vital grain —  the heart and soul of Japan — on Savory Kyoto, published by Kyoto Visitors Guide.

A simple but satisfying way to serve rice is by making onigiri (rice balls). Onigiri are made by simply forming balls of hot rice with your hands (after wetting them and dipping them in salt). It takes some doing, as the rice should be fresh and quite hot, and you must move the rice along, turning and squeezing with both hands, taking care not to burn your hands.

You can either make classic triangle shapes, or barrels — as shown here — to evoke the straw-covered rice barrels that were once distributed in flat-bottomed boats along Kyoto’s canals. We used different varieties of rice (including kurogome (black rice) for the purpose of the photo shoot, but they are most commonly made with plain white rice filled with a variety of delicious ingredients. Recipes for onigiri and other rice dishes can be found on Savory Japan’s Rice recipe page.

The antique raku boat is one of a handful of items originally purchased for our online gallery for Japanese tableware, Mizuya that we just can’t bear to part with.