Let me start with go. One go is equivalent to 180 ml. One go of rice has a weight of 150 g (140-160 g depending on how dry the rice is), and has 534 kcal. When cooked with water (in the Japanese way), one go of rice increases by a factor of 2.2, and has a weight of 2.2 x 150 = 330 g. One o-chawan or chawan (rice bowl) holds about 150 ml cooked rice (gohan), so one go of uncooked rice (o-kome or kome) results in a little over two bowls of cooked rice.
合（ごう）から始めます。一合（いちごう）は180 mlに相当します。一合のお米の重さは150 g (お米の乾燥度により140～160 g）で、カロリーは534 kcalです。炊くと、一合のお米は2.2倍に増え、重さは2.2 x 150 = 300 gになります。お茶碗（茶碗）には、ご飯（炊いたお米のこと）がおよそ150 ml入りますから、一合のお米は、ご飯２杯強になります。
In days of old, one go of rice was considered the amount of rice required by a single person for a single meal.
So, how was the unit of go determined? We need to go back to 645, when the Taika Reforms were carried out.
March 6, 2013
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Thank you for this interesting post. I hope many Japanese will read it because whenever I talk to Japanese, most people think rice is low-calorie and nothing to do with pasta for example ;-) The other day a friend was shocked when I told her that her bowl of rice has as many kcal as one bar of chocolate (100 g).
When one counts calories, rice has to be consumed very moderately alas...
Sissi: Do they? I think most Japanese know that rice is just like bread and noodles in that they are all mostly carb. There seem to be some people who mistakenly believe that eating rice makes them fat, eat only salad (with lots of fatty dressing), soft drink (containing lots of sugar), and snacks (containing lots of fat, sugar, and salt), and get fat!
I have talked to several Japanese women, who were trying to convince me that rice has got nothing to do with pasta (nor in terms of kcal, of health benefits or carbs... while white rice, as you know, is very similar...). Maybe I have met some badly informed people...
Soft drinks are awful. Luckily I have never liked them (even Coca Cola!), maybe only as a child...
We all need carbs, so rice is necessary especially in Japan. It reminds me of the fact that the low-carb diet is very fashionable now in Europe and North America. Doctors warn it's very dangerous for kidneys and after years of such a diet other health (and brain!) problem arise... Of course we all love carbs, so whoever cuts down carbs, loses weight... hence the popularity. I couldn't do it, even if it was healthy.
Thank you so much for this! I was just searching the Internet for an explanation of how much a "合” is, and how much an average serving of rice is. Your explanation is the best I have found, and easy to understand!
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