Pre-Washed Japanese Rice


musenmai blog

Back in the days of yore, every morning at 5am, housewives all over Japan could be found washing rice for the family’s meals.


These days, some of them get to sleep in til 5.15 because they don’t have to wash rice, they can pour it straight from the bag into the rice cooker. 


People  use pre-washed rice for two reasons. First, washing rice (correctly) is a long process, which seems even longer in winter when the cold water is about 1 degree above freezing and your hands are numb. Second, it’s bad for the environment. It uses gallons of water and the water that comes off the rice is full of nutrients which contributes to algae overgrowth in lakes. Or something. Around 120 million* people eat rice three times a day in Japan so you can imagine that all this water usage/algae could be a bit of a problem.


Anyway, these days lots of people buy pre-washed rice. Although actually, most of it isn’t really washed, exactly. Or not in water anyway. It’s washed in itself. It’s put in a machine and shaken around so that the outer skins of the grains stick to each other. The skins are left in the machine and the clean grains come out. 


So really, it’s not actually pre-washed rice, it’s no-wash rice. 

Usually it’s the same price as regular rice, or maybe a teeny bit more expensive. 


In the supermarket just ask for “musenmai”. Do what I do and say “aaahhhh…. gohan….. musenmai?” 


Or if you want to avoid having to talk to anyone just look for the kanji above.


Even though most restaurants and hotels use no-wash rice, only about 20% of Japanese people use it at home, mostly people in cities. The washers think that musenmai is unhygienic, or that it doesn’t taste/smell the same. Obviously, if you’re trying to cook perfect Japanese rice, you should probably buy the regular kind and wash it. If you just want food in belly fast, try the musenmai. I do quickly rinse it off a couple of times before cooking, and this gaijin can’t taste the difference.


*figure plucked from


3 Responses

  1. Awesome, I didn’t know about this topic up to now. Thx!!

  2. prewashed rice is good.

  3. prewashed rice very good.

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