How to Unwrap Onigiri and Nori Maki

Any convenience store in Japan is sure to have onigiri (rice balls) and nori maki (seaweed rolls), but does everybody know how to open them? The plastic could be pulled weirdly, the seaweed could rip, the onigiri could break open! But not anymore! We’ll teach you how to open these things the right way in your first try.

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Below, the text has been illustrated with pictures. There is some information that was omitted from the video, so please use this article as an additional reference. 

What is Onigiri?

Onigiri is a Japanese staple food, consisting of cooked rice with some sort of added flavor or ingredient. It is pressed into shapes such as a triangular, square, or round shape. The history of onigiri is quite old and can be traced back to the Heian period (794 - 1185). 

Onigiri was a salted food that was designed to be preserved for a long time and easily carried. However, in more modern times, it has become appreciated as a meal in and of itself. Not only is it made at home, but convenience stores and supermarkets sell a large variety of onigiri.

What is Nori Maki?

Nori maki refers to vinegared rice that is spread on top of seaweed laid out on a bamboo rolling sheet, with ingredients (the core of the maki) placed in the center of the rice. This is then rolled into a cylinder. The biggest difference between onigiri and nori maki is the shape and the fact that the rice is vinegared. 

How to Open Convenience Store Onigiri

There is a type of onigiri that keeps the seaweed in a layer separate to the rice in order to preserve the crispiness of the seaweed until the onigiri is eaten. There is also a type that keeps the seaweed directly on the rice, and a type that has no seaweed at all. 

The method for opening the first type and the packaging has changed over the years to become more convenient, but to those who have never tried it before or who aren’t used to it, it could be a little difficult to open, so here is an introduction for you!

Classic Onigiri (With Seaweed, Type 1)

Pinch the plastic flap where it says "1", and pull it downwards. Tear it all the way around.

Then do the same thing to number "2".

Do it again to number "3".

Onigiri (With Seaweed, Type 2)

Like you did before, remove 1, 2, and 3.

Onigiri (Without Seaweed)

Pinch the top of the plastic flap and pull it downwards. Tear it all the way around. 

If you leave part of the plastic on, you can eat the onigiri without getting your hands dirty! 

Onigiri That Can Be Opened Sideways

There's an indentation for opening this.

Nori Maki

Flip it over.
Tear the "1" label all the way to the bottom. 

Remove the plastic on the right side.

Open the plastic on the top and the bottom. 

Move the rice over to the seaweed.。

Remove the plastic on the left side.

There are so many different types of convenience store onigiri, and the various fillings change as well. Try to challenge yourself a little by sampling many different kinds of onigiri!

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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About the author

I currently live in Tokyo. I like history, and collecting information on food or events is my hobby. I'd like to share more info on Japanese cuisine to the rest of the world!
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