White/polished rice is everywhere in Japan, but it is a little harder to find brown/whole grain rice. When you can find brown rice/玄米 in the supermarket, often there is only one brand to choose from (similarly whole grain pasta is not widely available in Japan). Specialty rice, such as red rice and black rice, can be found in some natural food stores. Below is an example of uncooked brown rice packaging.
It sounds odd, but you should check that the rice you want to buy is vegan. The rice below contains collagen, so it is not vegan (see the third ingredient – コラーゲン).
You can also buy excellent bags of mixed rice, grains and beans to add to your regular rice when cooking it in a rice cooker. Below are some examples.
• House Foods Group Rice Cooker Grains. Ingredients: Glutinous rice, black rice, corn, adzuki beans, barley, soba (buckwheat), Job’s tears, black soybeans, black sesame, sprouted brown rice, white sorghum, glutinous foxtail millet, glutinous common millet, amaranth.
• Koei Foods Rice Cooker Grains (10 Grains). Ingredients: Common millet, foxtail millet, corn, soba (buckwheat) seeds, mung beans, pearled barley, brown rice (domestic), black rice (domestic) rolled barley, amaranth.
• Rice Cooker Grains. Ingredients: Mung beans, millet, buckwheat, rolled oats, regular brown rice (purple rice (Japan)).
Grains/seeds like amaranth and quinoa can also be found in specialty stores and some grocery stores. For example:
These bags of quinoa, amaranth, and black rice were found at a Peacock grocery store.
As for beans, adzuki beans and soy beans are the most common beans in Japan and can be found in regular supermarkets (dry or cooked). However you can still buy other types of beans, such as chick peas (garbanzo beans), kidney beans, and pinto beans. Below are some examples of dry beans available in Japan:
Black soy beans
The canned beans available in most supermarkets are small and relatively expensive. Below are some examples (120g three bean mix of chick peas, kidney beans and soy beans – about ¥100; and 110g black soy beans – about ¥160):
The best and cheapest place to buy canned beans may be Gyoumu Sūpā, a wholesale supermarket chain. They sell large cans of chick peas and kidney beans for around ¥100.
You can also find various canned beans and lentils in foreign food stores. They are larger and more expensive (usually between ¥300 and ¥500). For example:
The grocery store chain Seijo Ishii may be another good place to look for canned beans. It carries a lot of imported items and can sometimes be on the pricier side, but this imported can of Ottima black beans was selling for 129 yen in November 2020.
• Ottima Black Beans. Ingredients: Beans (60%), water (38.97%), salt (1%), ascorbic acid (0.03%).