"Onigiri" (rice ball) is a traditional Japanese food and fast food. They are widely enjoyed at home, in convenience stores, frozen foods, and even at specialty onigiri stores.

The earliest onigiri dates back to the Yayoi period. The onigiri discovered at the Chanobatake site in Sugitani, Ishikawa Prefecture, an archaeological site dating back to the late Yayoi period, were made from glutinous rice, which was presumably steamed and then secondarily baked to make a charred rice ball in the shape of a chimaki. Functionally, onigiri were portable preserves, and apart from being edible, they are thought to have been offerings to spiritual beings or spells to ward off evil. The etymology of the word “onigiri" comes from the action of “nigiri" (squeezing) the rice with one's hands. The word “omusubi" comes from the god “Musubi no Kami" in Japanese mythology. The word “musu" means “to produce" and “hi (bi)" means “spiritual power," and it is believed that this deity resides in the rice, hence the term “omusubi" for rice that has been nigiri.

From the ritualistic and religious significance of the food, onigiri became popular as a portable food during the Kamakura period (1185-1333). During the Jokyu Rebellion, onigiri were distributed to warriors on the side of the Kamakura Shogunate and became the center of battle rations. While the mainstay of onigiri had been rice balls cooked with thinly sliced greens, pickled plums, salt, and miso were added to improve their preservation. In the Edo period (1603-1867), it came to be eaten together with minor grains by common people as a portable food for work and travel. The onigiri we are familiar with today seems to have been established at this time. Onigiri wrapped in seaweed also appeared. The first “ekiben" (boxed lunch box) that appeared at Utsunomiya Station in the Meiji era (1868-1912) consisted of two rice balls with pickled plums sprinkled with black sesame and takuan (radish) wrapped in a bamboo skin.

The onigiri, now a staple of convenience stores, was introduced by 7-Eleven in 1978. In 1982, there was the tenmusu boom, furikake for onigiri (Mizkan Omusubi Yama), and "onigirazu," which became a boom mainly on social networking sites, was introduced in 2014. Recently, “jumeokbap" with round Korean takuan and Korean seaweed, and fluffy onigiri without nigiri from onigiri specialty stores seem to be popular. Onigiri are popular overseas as well, and we hope you enjoy making a variety of onigiri at home.

Yamaichi's Triangular Onigiri Mold
Rikucho Ogasawara's Onigiri Iron Plate
Yamasaki Design Works' Sandwich Guide

https://maps.app.goo.gl/LtaaNTLVWN3jVnWG6 (Onimaru)