Baking, and especially bread making, can often be hit-and-miss. Although blaming your tools won’t make your bread rise to the occasion, knowing the best flour for the job is a good start. Buying flour in Japan, however, can be a bit tricky. It’s often difficult to know what to buy in a crowded marketplace. Furthermore, familiar products are expensive or not so available. However, our guide will take you through how flour is categorized in Japan. Also, learn to identify names and types of flour, as well as our recommendations for 7 types of popular flour.
How Flour is Categorized in Japan
Different types of flour have variable protein content levels [たんぱく質/含有量]. This means different gluten levels which will in turn determine what each flour is best used for. Generally high protein wheat is better for breads and cookies which require more binding, elasticity, and bulk. Weak flours are preferred for soft breads, pies, cakes, and pastries.
Japan imports some 90% or more of the wheat it consumes. The bulk of domestic production comes from Hokkaido. Imported wheat or flour in Japan comes from the US (50%), Canada (31%), and Australia (16%).
|最強力粉||maximum strength flour||Protein 13.5～%|
|強力粉||strong flour||Protein 11.5～13.5%|
|準強力粉||medium strength flour||Protein 1０.5～1２%|
|全粒粉||whole grain wheat||variable|
|国産小麦||domestic wheat||low to high|
|ライ麦粉||rye wheat flour||Protein < 10g|
|薄力粉||all-puprose cake flour||Protein < 10g|
Popular Types and Uses of Wheat and Rice Flour in Japan
If you’re wanting to get into baking, diversify your repertoire of flour, or discover some great new flour makers in Japan, here is our hand picked listing:
- Super King flour – スーパーキング粉
- All Purpose Lys D’Or flour – リスドオル粉
- Cake flour – 薄力粉
- Whole wheat flour – 全粒粉
- Rye flour – ライ麦粉
- Semolina – デュラムセモリナ粉
- Rice flour – 米の粉
Super King Flour – スーパーキング粉
Super King flour is a strong flour for bread. It’s versatile whether you just want to make a loaf of white bread or mix it with rye flour or whole wheat flour for a healthier alternative.
Best Recommended Super King Flour in Japan
- Protein 14%
- Domestically produced [国内製造]
- Alginic acid [アルギン酸]
Nutritional content / 100g: Calories エネルギー 350kcaL, Protein たんぱく質 14g, Fat 脂質 1.5g, Carbohydrate 炭水化物 70g, Salt/Sodium 塩相当量 0.02g
This ‘Super King’ flour is produced by Nisshin corporation. It qualifies as a maximum strength flour [最強力粉]. It’s protein content makes it ideal for mixing with other flours. It is also good for bread machines. Things like donut dough require at least 3g baking powder, and hotdog buns at least 10g per 100g of flour.
Alginic acid, a listed ingredient, is a common food additive made from brown marine algae. It acts as a stabilizer, improves viscosity and texture, while also aiding gel formation.
All Purpose or Lys D’Or Flour – リスドオル粉
All purpose flour is a softer or more finely milled flour best suited for cookies and cakes. It’s especially recommended for French bread and baguettes. It’s also useful for making pancakes or scones. This is pretty much a must have for your kitchen.
Best Recommended All Purpose Flour in Japan
- Protein 11%
- Domestically produced [国内製造]
Nutritional content / 100g: Calories エネルギー 350kcaL, Protein たんぱく質 11g, Fat 脂質 1.5g, Carbohydrate 炭水化物 73g, Salt/Sodium 食塩相当量 0g.
Apart from a lower protein content and finer milling, Lys D’or flour is also more of a pure flour. It doesn’t contain any additives and the sodium content is also zero.
Cake Flour – 薄力粉
Cake flour is classified as a weak flour. The protein content can vary quite a bit as can its use and versatility. This Kinoshita cake flour is a stronger type of cake flour and also quite versatile.
- Protein 8%
- US, Australia, Japan ingredients
Nutritional content / 100g: Calories エネルギー 368kcaL, Protein たんぱく質 8.0g, Fat 脂質 1.7g, Carbohydrate 炭水化物 75.9g, Salt/Sodium 食塩相当量 0.002g.
Kinoshita Flour company is from Kagawa in Shikoku. Not surprisingly, their specialty is flour for making Sanuki Udon. They also happen to own the domain www.flour.co.jp which has nice English info on their flours.
Whole Wheat Flour – 全粒粉
Whole wheat flour is made by grinding the whole wheat grain. It’s usually combined with white bread flour in a 50/50 ratio. It makes a slightly drier and more earthy bread which isn’t as sweet tasting as white bread.
Best Recommended Whole Wheat Flour in Japan
- Protein 12.8%
- Canadian & US wheat
Nutritional content / 100g : Calories 328kcal, Protein たんぱく質 12.8g, Fat 脂質 2.9g, Carbohydrate 炭水化物 68.2g, Salt/Sodium 食塩相当量 0.01g.
Whole wheat flour in Japan is usually classified as a strong or maximum strength flour. Whole wheat flour tends to be used less in the standard kitchen than other flours. These smaller 800g packs from Pioneer Kikaku Corporation [式会社パイオニア企画] are one of the most affordable options.
Alternatively, the 500 g pack (price link) of stone milled whole wheat flour from Ohsawa Japan is another affordable choice. The protein content is higher at 14.4% and the wheat is from Iwate Prefecture.
Rye Flour – ライ麦全粒粉
Rye flour generally comes as a fine mill [細挽き] or a medium mill [中挽き]. The former is usually recommended for German rye or higher rising bread. The medium mill is best for cookies and heavier breads.
Best Recommended Rye Flour in Japan
- Protein 8.4%
- German rye & wheat
Nutritional content / 100g: Calories エネルギー 353kcal, Protein たんぱく質 8.4g, Fat 脂質 2.1g, Carbohydrate 炭水化物 75.3g, Salt/Sodium 食塩相当量 0g.
Rye mixes well with a Super King flour in a 25/75 ratio. Like whole wheat flour, rye flour absorbs more liquid and has lower gluten levels. This means the bread won’t rise as much as a strong white bread flour.
Best Recommended Organic Rye Flour in Japan
Rye flour is probably the healthiest of all flour. The grain comes from rye grass and has a high fiber content. A strong organic rye is often a popular health choice.
- Protein 10.3%
- USDA certified
Nutritional content / 100g: Calories エネルギー 355kcal, Protein たんぱく質 10.3g, Fat 脂質 1.3g, Carbohydrate 炭水化物 75.5g, Salt/Sodium 食塩相当量 0g.
Bob’s Red Mill is an excellent choice for other health based choices. They have other organically certified flours as well as gluten-free flours such as almond, chickpea, arrowroot, and coconut flour. There are also gluten-free muffin, cornbread, and pancake mixes.
Semolina Flour – デュラムセモリナ粉
Semolina is an Italian flour made from durum wheat used mainly for making pasta and Moroccan couscous. It’s secret is versatility. Combined with bread flour, it forms a nice crispy crust for a focaccia or pizza dough. In a cookie recipe like shortbread, it will give a smoother texture.
Best Recommended Semolina Flour in Japan
- Protein 12.7%
- Domestically produced [国内製造]
Nutritional content / 100g : Calories エネルギー 343kcal, Protein たんぱく質 12.7g, Fat 脂質 1.7g, Carbohydrate 炭水化物 69.3g, Salt/Sodium 食塩相当量 0g.
The Baking Master label is one of the top affordable domestic flour producers in Japan. They’re part of the Pioneer Kikaku Corporation [式会社パイオニア企画]. Their products come in simple see-through packages and information on each product is easily available.
Rice Flour – 米の粉
Like wheat flour, rice flour comes in a plain grain and whole grain mill. The former is best used for white breads, cakes, and pastries. Genmai rice flour [玄米粉], or whole grain, can be mixed with plain grain flour or used on it’s own for cookies or slightly heavier bread types. Rice flour is your best and most affordable option for gluten-free or reduced gluten baking.
- Protein 6.2%
Nutritional content / 100g: Calories エネルギー 362kcal, Protein たんぱく質 6.2g, Fat 脂質 0.9g, Carbohydrate 炭水化物 78.5g, Salt/Sodium 食塩相当量 0g.
This rice flour is produced by the Home Made brand of the Kyoritsu Food Company. If you aren’t following a specific gluten-free recipe, you should replace 30 to 50% of usual cake flour with rice flour. For breads, replace 20 to 30% of the strong flour with rice flour.
- Brown rice flour
- Protein 7.1%
Nutritional content / 100g: Calories エネルギー 395kcal, Protein たんぱく質 7.1g, Fat 脂質 2.9g, Carbohydrate 炭水化物 84.1g (Dietary Fiber 食物繊維 3.5g), Salt/Sodium 食塩相当量 0g.
This flour makes a good mix for a lighter and crispier tempura or karaage. Around 10% of the mix should be rice flour. It can also be mixed and had with milk and yoghurt. This Namisato brand also has a rice flour mixed with gluten (price link) for use in a bread machine or home bakery. Their completely gluten-free bread mix (price link) contains the sweetener trehalose [トレハロース], and thickener HPMC 増粘剤.