Japanese Decoded: Rice Cooker

Mastering Japanese Home Appliances

By The Savvy Team
September 10, 2020
Lifestyle, Practical Information

No effort needed to decipher your rice cooker buttons with this Japanese cheat sheet. Cooking your rice has never been so easy!

Love it or hate it, you can’t avoid rice while living in Japan. It’s the prime meal on every Japanese dinner, the best company to all your washoku favorites, and the nutrient-rich meal that can keep you full throughout the day. But how often do you find yourself frustrated at all these Japanese buttons your rice cooker at home has? Or end up using only the largest button, ignoring the rest because you can’t fully understand them? 

If you have at least once in your journey in Japan shifted to a regular pot because you couldn’t be bothered deciphering your rice cooker, here’s your one-stop guide—a list of the most commonly used rice cooker kanji characters.

Front picture of a Japanese rice cooker device

The main buttons: turning it on & off, cooking

Japanese Rōmaji English Push it to:
炊飯 suihan Cook (boil) rice get the work done with a single push
保温 ho-on Keep warm keep the rice warm until you open the lid. Push it again if you want to continue warming up your rice even after opening
予約 yoyaku Preset get your rice ready when you come home or wake up. Keep pushing the button on your rice cooker until you see the correct hour, and enjoy the smell of freshly boiled rice as you return home
メニュー menyuu Menu select any options
取り消し torikeshi Cancel well, cancel
早炊き hayadaki Quick boil get your rice cooked ASAP!
kiru Turn off stop cooking, warming up your rice

Set up your rice cooker

First thing first, if you want your rice ready at 6 pm sharp you need to tell your rice cooker what time is it!

Japanese Rōmaji English Push it to:
コース koosu Course specify what type of rice and how you want it cooked
選択 sentaku Select select the menu you prefer
時(間) ji(kan) Hour, time presetting
fun Minute check how many minutes left to finally eat your deliciously warm rice


Different types of rice

If you’re lucky enough, your rice cooker will offer you plenty of options to cook and experiment with different types of rice.

Japanese Rōmaji English
お粥/おかゆ okayu Rice porridge
玄米 genmai Brown rice
白米 hakumai White rice
炊き込み takikomi Mixed rice (seasoned with soy sauce, dashi, mushrooms, etc)
無洗米 musenmai Pre-washed rice
おこわ okowa Sticky rice
雑穀米 zakkokumai Mixed grain rice

Cooking preferences

Japanese  Rōmaji English
普通/ふつう futsuu Normal
硬め/かため katame Hard
柔らかめ/やわらかめ yawarakame Soft
標準 hojun Standard

Here you go: with this quick guide, you should be fully equipped to finally tackle your Japanese rice cooker and prepare the best rice ever! Have trouble with other appliances in Japanese? Check out our other Japanese Decoded articles for general appliances, washers and dryers, microwave ovens, and air conditioners.