I had always liked rice–although for most of my life, that meant wild rice of some variety, or if it was white rice, then it was the kind you could just throw in the microwave, add soy sauce to, and mix up with whatever meat or vegetables are being served with it. Why, I even recall making a single serving of microwaved white rice to eat as a snack sometimes. That became harder to do after my first trip to Japan, where the rice is served and kept a shiny bright white, eaten with something on top in the same bite such as a pickled vegetable or crumbled seasoning, or simply as it is–because it’s good exactly as it is. It is wonderful exactly as it is. I don’t really need to stress the importance of rice in Japanese culture here (because I’ve already done that before), but suffice to say people care about it being served properly, and although all rice is supposed to be good, some rice is simply better than others, and many prefectures are fierce about their pride in their rice. Nita Mai (“Nita Rice”, from a district of Okuiizumo town called Nita), is one such variety of luxurious tasting rice–I received some as a gift instead of buying it myself to try. And yes, the cool summer nights and clean water do indeed make for special rice. Makes for special sake, too.

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