Some of our readers may remember how journalists discovered the wonders of Japanese convenience stores during their time covering the Tokyo Olympics. As we reported in August 2021, Japan's tasty onigiri rice balls were much appreciated, although some reporters, like Canadian Olympic Speed Skater and journalist Anastasia Bucsis, struggled with their packaging at first.

When you buy an onigiri from a convenience store in Japan (and some supermarkets), they're usually packaged in a way that keeps the nori seaweed fresh and crisp, using a double-layer structure that separates it from the rice until the moment you open the package.

It requires three steps, but once you know how to do it, it's very simple. Perhaps in reaction to Buscis' viral post, 7-Eleven even provided an explanation video for foreigners two days later.

Making your own

But what do you do when you want to pack your own rice ball to bring to a party, take along for your own lunch, or offer to a friend or family member?

As it turns out, there's a lifehack you can use to reproduce the same wrapping method at home, even if you don't happen to have a Japanese convenience store within walking distance of where you live...

Here's what you need:

  • Onigiri rice ball, unwrapped with nori
  • Strip of nori (fresh as possible)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Masking tape

Wrapping your onigiri

First, spread a sheet of aluminum foil and place the masking tape in the middle.

The key is to make the strip of tape long enough that it sticks out from the foil on both edges.

Turn the sheet of foil over and place a strip of fresh nori in the center.

Bring both sides of the foil sheet inwards (valley fold) over the nori strip until their edges meet in the center, then fold flat. Next, place the rice ball on top of the folded foil, making sure it is centered along the centerline.

Wrap it up...

Shape it into a triangle with your hands and then fasten the foil shut with the overhanging part of the masking tape strip, to complete.

You're ready to pack your onigiri and go!

When you're ready to eat


When you pull off the masking tape, the foil underneath will come off cleanly.

Now, just like a convenience store-bought onigiri, you pull on the foil on one end to remove it, then the other end to remove it (it's important that you don't try removing both ends at the same time). The crispy nori should remain in place once the foil is gone and you can now flatten the nori firmly against the rice as you wrap it to eat.

To make sure your onigiri doesn't stick to the foil when you make it, it's best to use an onigiri that has already cooled down. We recommend adding sesame oil to the onigiri to make it more slippery and more difficult to stick to the foil.

If you want to enjoy onigiri wrapped in crispy nori anywhere and anytime, this is the way to do it!

By - grape Japan editorial staff.