- Main lore areas
All over Hokkaido
- Main ingredients used
Uruchi rice, glutinous rice, amanatto (sweet soybeans)
- History/origin/related events
Sekihan (red rice) is often eaten on special occasions throughout Japan. In Hokkaido, there is a unique food culture to cook sekihan with ama-natto (sweet soybeans). In other regions, sekihan is cooked with azuki beans and seasoned with sesame salt, so it does not have a sweet taste, but sekihan in Hokkaido with ama-natto is sweet.
The origin of "sekihan" with ama-natto is a matter of some debate, but it is said to have been invented in the late 1950s by Ms. Akiko Nanbu, founder and first president of Koshio Gakuen Educational Corporation in Sapporo, to make it easier for busy mothers to cook sekihan. As a working mother herself, she wanted to give her children something they would enjoy to eat, even though it was time-consuming to cook azuki red rice, so she established a simple method of cooking rice, mixing it with ama-natto, and adding color with food coloring.
Dr. Nambu, who is also a leading expert on Hokkaido's local cuisine, gave lectures throughout the prefecture. When he taught local mothers how to make "sekihan" (red rice) using amanatto, the children were delighted and it quickly became very popular. Later, it was introduced in newspapers, on the radio, and in other media, and quickly spread throughout the province.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
Because it is made from glutinous and non-glutinous rice and amanatto (sweet soybeans), which are available year-round, it is eaten throughout the year. Because it is easy to make, it is often prepared at home, and is sometimes served in school lunches. As is customary throughout Japan, it is also eaten on special occasions, and although it is a sweet rice dish, it is often served with side dishes.
- How to eat
Mix glutinous rice and Uruchi rice, add a slight color to the rice with food coloring, cook it, and mix the amanatto (sweet soybeans) into the cooked sekihan (red rice). Then the heat from the cooked "sekihan" (red rice) will melt the ama-natto a little around the ama-natto, making that part especially sweet. According to the recipe by the inventor, Mr. Nambu, glutinous rice and Uruchi rice are mixed in the ratio of 1:1, but the ratio can be changed to suit different tastes. Each household often has its own unique arrangement.
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
(Outline of the people who have passed down the tradition, preservation groups, use of SNS, modern efforts such as commercialization, etc.)
In Hokkaido, the word "sekihan" often refers to "sekihan" with ama-natto, and it has already become an established part of the food culture. In Hokkaido supermarkets and convenience stores, "sekihan" with sweetened red beans is more commonly available than "sekihan" with unsweetened red beans. Recently, the impact of "sekihan with sweet red beans" is gaining recognition nationwide.
Convenience stores and supermarkets in Hokkaido are collaborating to promote "sekihan day" on November 23 (registered by the Japan Anniversary Association).