Plain, boiled, short-grain Japanese rice with a high gluten content. The staple food of the Japanese since ancient times, rice has played a major role in the development of the country's cuisine. Its importance to Japan's food culture cannot be overestimated. In former times other grains were often added to and steamed along with the rice, but today usually only rice is used. In addition to plain steamed white rice, the Japanese consume this food in a variety of other forms, from gruel to sushi.