Many quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for agronomically important traits such as grain yield, disease resistance, and stress tolerance of rice (Oryza sativa L.) have been detected by using segregating populations derived from crosses between indica and japonica subspecies or with wild relatives. However, the QTLs involved in the control of natural variation in agronomic traits among closely related cultivars are still unclear. Decoding the whole genome sequences of Nipponbare and other temperate japonica rice cultivars has accelerated the collection of a huge number of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). These SNPs are good resource for developing polymorphic DNA markers and for detecting QTLs distributed across all rice chromosomes. The temperate japonica rice cultivar Koshihikari has remained the top cultivar for about 40 years since 1979 in Japan. Unraveling the genetic factors in Koshihikari will provide important insights into improving agronomic traits in temperate japonica rice cultivars. Here we describe recent progress in our studies as an example of genetic analysis in closely related cultivars.