Life in Japan: 1-Tackling the onegiri  

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Japan is full of interesting new things to eat, but many of these require a certain degree of experience to tackle effectively. None more so than the onegiri.


The onegiri can be viewed in pretty much the same way as we view the humble sandwich – a cheap and convenient quick snack, available with a variety of fillings. Pretty much every convenience store has onegiri, making them one of the most universal sources of nourishment when the hunger pangs strike. But unlike the sandwich, there is no bread involved; instead the filling is wrapped in a triangular rice shape which is itself encased in nori seaweed. The problem is that the crispy nori goes soggy pretty quickly when in contact with the rice, so some bright spark – presumably with a black belt in origami – developed a fiendishly clever way of wrapping the onegiri so that there is a layer of plastic between the seaweed and the rice. If unwrapped correctly, the plastic wrapper detaches easily to reveal a tasty and convenient snack; if done incorrectly, you’re left with a sticky blob of rice that quickly disintegrates in your hands, leaving rice stuck everywhere.

The correct method of tackling the onegiri is as follows: Grasp the tab marked 1 at the top of the triangle and pull smartly downward. This will peel away a thin strip of the plastic all around the onegiri. Step 2: Grasp the tag marked 2 and withdraw the side of the triangle in a smooth controlled movement. Repeat for tag 3. The onegiri can now be enjoyed.

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