Japanese Artist Turns Rice Balls into Cute and Funny Characters

Most of us are not conversant with Japanese onigiri. This is nothing but a rice ball in a cylindrical or triangular shape, wrapped in nori – a dried edible seaweed. This delectable item is traditionally filled with pickled ume – a variety of Asian plum, salted salmon, and many other ingredients.

A Japanese artist, who identifies himself as Onigiri Gekijō on Instagram, made these popular Japanese rice balls even more appetizing by giving them his own creative spin. Instead of traditional shapes, he sculpts these rice balls into cute and funny characters that include anime characters, culture icons, pet animals, and much more. Appetizing these rice balls maybe, but they all are too cute to eat!

Creating onigiri figures look easy, but it is not so. Although it doesn’t require any special skills, it does require an aesthetic eye. The process is fairly simple, the boiled rice is laid out on a sheet of plastic wrap and kneaded into a ball. Due to the stickiness of the boiled rice, it becomes easy to give it any shape one wants. And for colors and accouterments, various sauces, fish, and seaweed products are used.

Gekijō uses sticky white rice to sculpt his creations and makes the features using sesame seeds, salted salmon, pickled plum, bonito flakes, and seaweed. In some instances, he even uses soy and other sauces for dyeing the rice, making the rice balls even more attractive. He has created a variety of human characters, animals, and objects. These include the busts of Beethoven, Chopin, and Bach. His animals include bears, seals, koalas, alpacas, and others. He has also created characters inspired by Dragonball and Studio Ghibli, ‘Ukiyo-e’ characters, and many more.

Gekijō shares his food art tutorials on YouTube in Japanese, but despite the language barrier, they are easy to understand and don’t require any knowledge of the Japanese language. These include videos that teach how to turn rice balls into various human and animal forms and other objects.

Although Gekijō’s Instagram page is in Japanese, it has managed to have sizeable followership of over 16,000 viewers and counting.

Onigiri Gekijō

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