Japanese snack Onigiri

Onigiri means a Japanese rice ball and is made from white rice. It is the best-selling item at convenience stores in Japan. Here, I mainly write an article about how to open the tricky package of Japanese convenience store's onigiris. Apparently, it seems that there are other websites that talk about knowledge of rice ball onigiris, so I leave the details to them. haha. (Above photo : From photoAC piyo_piyo)

I think probably most of the rice balls ( onigiris ) you see in Japan are triangle shaped, but some are round though. To put it clearly, the shape has no definition. Forming and pressing the rice, filling put inside, wrapping it with seaweed, that is onigiri. It is so simple. Although having said that, most should be triangular or round since we are taught that way. The origin comes from the shape of the hand when forming , I think.

For many Japanese people, perhaps the first encounter with onigiris is at lunchbox. Since it is good portability and quick & easy to eat, that is the most suitable for packed lunch. Speaking of ingredients, salmon is quite possibly the most typical of onigiri fillings. Salmon is called sa-ke in Japanese. However, when it becomes onigiri's ingredient, it is pronounced sha-keh for some reason. Well, something like that, salmon is a must-have rice ball ingredient for Japanese people. There are many other types of rice balls, so please try them.

Convenience Store's Onigiris

The easiest way to get onigirs in Japan is to buy at a convenience store, but they are also sold everywhere from every grocery store, train stations kiosks, and to airport. So, you can find them easily.

By the way, we do not usually call that shop "convenience store" normally. We call them "conveni" for short.

2020 research for popularity

This is a survey of popular onigiri trends at Japanese convenience stores by Onigiri Society.

From 2019 April to 2020 March
7-Eleven Family
1 Tuna & Mayo Tuna & Mayo Red salmon Tuna & Mayo
2 Red salmon Grilled salmon Tuna & Mayo Grilled salmon
3 Pickled plum Red salmon Spicy cod roe Grilled salmon (Premium)

It can say the most popular onigiri in Japanese convenience stores is tuna & mayonnaise. It has maintained that for a long time. In my opinion, "Tuna & Mayo" and "Grilled salmon" are the two greatest fillings. The No.1 filling of home-made onigiris is salmon, and Tuna-Mayo is a filling born at a convenience store. Both are Japanese typical.

7-Eleven's advertising statement
Seven-Eleven pursues deliciousness by focusing on the method of rice polishing and nori (dried seaweed) quality, aiming to be a “mom's home cooking” rather than developing a new menu.

Photo from 7-Eleven


FamilyMart's advertising statement
FamilyMart aims to fluffy onigiri like handmade, and pursues onigiri itself by reviewing the salt and ingredients, and texture of nori (dried seaweed).

Photo from Family Mart


MINI-STOP's advertising statement
Let's get back to basics. Rice is tastes good cold, a flavor of the algae salt, savory nori (dried seaweed). Sales strategy of 100 yen per piece.

Photo from MINI STOP


LAWSON's advertising statement
LAWSON improves the quality of main onigiris, and starts to develop health-conscious ones, and develops a new menu.

Photo from LAWSON


2019 research for popularity

From 2018 April to 2019 March
7-Eleven Family
1 Tuna & Mayo Tuna & Mayo Tuna & Mayo Tuna & Mayo
2 Red salmon Grilled salmon Red salmon Tempura Batter &
Green Seaweed
(Akuma no Onigiri)
3 Pickled plum Red salmon Kelp Tsukudani Grilled salmon (Premium)


How to Unwrap Onigiri

Wrapping of conveni’s onigiri is a bit tricky. I will show you how to open it here. The photo below shows basic structure of onigiris, and it consists of rice, fillings, nori (seaweed). There are two types of conveni’s onigiris. The first is called "temaki" (手巻) which is separated rice and dried seaweed with wrapping sheet during packaging. The other is called ”jikamaki" (直巻) which is not separated them. It seems that "temaki" is preferred since the dried seaweed is not stale. The classification of those two types is unique to convenience stores.

I bought two onigiris "Tuna Mayonnaise" for Temaki and "Pork Sausage Garlic & Mayonnaise" for JIkamaki this time at seven-eleven.

Tuna Mayo & Pork Sausage


Temaki Onigiris

The packaging usually has a description of how to open.


1. Pinch the part that says "1" and pull it down.

2. Pull "1"down, and then pull it up over the other side. Moreover, it is OK to cut "1".


3. Pull the part marked with "2" sideways.

Remove "2" from the onigiri.


4. Remove “3” as well as “2”.


5. You did well !!


Empty packaging. Take care not to cut seaweed when opening.


Jikamaki Onigiri

How to unwrap Jikamaki is not difficult at all. It is just open it. Since it is already wrapped in seaweed and combined.

1. It just cuts from the precut part.

2. You did great!

You can eat Jikamaki Onigiri as it is. This "Sausage & Mayo" is good, though It is not traditional type. Visitors might like it.


Specialty Shop

It is not cheap like conveni's ones, but there are specialty shops of onigiri. Convenience stores cost 100 to 200 yen each, but they cost more than 200 yen each. However, Conveni's are made by onigiri machine, while they cook mostly by a onigiri chef. You can enjoy the deliciousness of rice, and the quality of seaweed and ingredients is also high.

ONIGIRI ASAKUSA YADOROKU is Tokyo's oldest onigiri restaurant. They got Bib Gourmands in The MICHELIN Guide Tokyo 2019. It is located just behind Sensoji in Asakusa, so it might wanna go after sightseeing in Asakusa Sensoji.

Lunch Time Menu
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Saturday

Onigiri Set A: 680 yen ;
2 onigiri of your choice, Tofu miso soup, Japanese radish pickles (takuan)

Onigiri Set B: 920 yen ;
3 onigiri of your choice, Tofu miso soup, Japanese radish pickles (takuan)

Photo from Yadoroku Official site

Address : 3-9-10 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Others : Cash only, Non-smoking, Seats 16 (8 counter seats, 8 table seats)

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