Combini Checkout: A beginner’s guide to Onigiri

Whether it be for a outdoor picnic or a quick lunch break at your office desk, the Japanese rice ball, onigiri or omusubi is filling, convenient, and can pack a whole lot of flavor. It has been in the diet of Japanese people for so long, they say you can tell a person’s character by their choice of onigiri!

For the same reason, any decent Combini (convenience store) in Japan will have at least one dedicated rack with a variety of onigiri. Here are some of the most common types and the personalities that favor them:

1. 鮭 Shake/Sake

shake
Salmon that is grilled with salt then shredded, it should always be perfectly seasoned and not dry. People who favor this filling tend to take things slowly. They are also deliberate, strong-willed and steadfast in their principles.

2. ツナマヨ Tuna Mayo

tunamayo
Sometimes also called シーチキン (Sea chicken), the tuna should not be overwhelmed by the mayonnaise, and the mix should be creamy and slightly tart. People who like this filling are said to be of pure heart and possess inner beauty, but also have a tendency to be hard-headed.

3. 昆布 Kombu

kombu
Shredded Kombu (edible kelp) that is cooked in a soy sauce based mixture until tender, it should taste slightly salty and sweet. People who like this filling are said to favor simplicity. They avoid complications and prefer things (and relationships) that are straightforward.

4. 明太子 Mentaiko

mentaiko2
Mentaiko or spicy cod roe, is sometimes mixed with karashi (mustard), mayonnaise, egg or other ingredients. People who choose mentaiko are tuned in to new trends and are up to date. They also tend to be good at fashion, cooking, and/or socializing.

5. 梅干し Umeboshi

umeboshi
Salty and sour pickled plum, it is sometimes cut up and mixed in with the rice. People who prefer umeboshi in their onigiri are said to be faithful and reliable. They also tend to be extremely detailed and prefer to do things properly.

Other types of onigiri

焼きおにぎり Yaki onigiri – Rice basted with sauce and grilled without filling.
yakionigiri

おかか Okaka – Dried bonito flakes seasoned with soy sauce.
okaka2

赤飯 Sekihan – sticky rice steamed with adzuki beans, tinting the rice with a reddish color.
sekihan2

Also check out our other Combini Checkout articles:
Combini Checkout: A beginner’s guide to bottled tea


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Melissa Wullur
I’m an amateur writer and avid reader who’s been living in Japan since 2007. I enjoy reading and writing about food, travel, and quirky trivia. I treat 100 yen shopping as therapy.

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