More than any other food, it can be argued that rice is most heavily tied to Japanese culture. In fact, it’s believed that rice was first cultivated in Japan as early as 400 B.C., on the southern island known as Kyushu. And while a plain bowl of rice itself grew to become a Japanese dietary staple, the crop itself quickly became the country’s most profitable thanks to all of the other ways it could be used and sold worldwide. When saké, fermented rice wine, took over as a massively popular alcoholic beverage, the demand for rice grew, and as Japanese farmers devoted their days to harvesting rice, the grain became essential to Japan’s historical (and literal!) landscape. Granted, the above is most likely not on your mind while you’re chowing down on a tasty helping of rice, but it’s incredible to think of how majorly rice affects both Japan’s economic and agricultural histories, as well as the daily lives of Japanese citizens today. Rice is a staple for every meal, so much so that the word for meal, gohan, literally means "cooked rice."