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Onigirazu (おにぎらず): Onigiri Sandwich

Onigirazu (おにぎらず) is a popular variation of the more common onigiri (i.e. rice ball), and can be found throughout Japan.

It is a very popular bento (i.e. lunchbox) food since it is easy to make, easy to eat, and looks beautiful.

The name is derived from the word onigiri, and implies you do not need to “squeeze” or “mold” the rice with your hands to make it:

🤓 Japanese lesson: The verb nigiru (握る) means to mold/shape. The “zu-form” of a verb means “without doing (verb)”. Hence, “nigiraZU” means something like “without molding/shaping”.

Read on for more interesting info about onigirazu:


onigirazu variations
There are infinite types of onigirazu

The main ingredients of Onigirazu are:

  • Rice
  • Nori
  • Various fillings

Onigirazu is very simple to make. All you need is rice, nori (i.e dried seaweed sheets), and some sort of filling.

Any type of filling can be used to make onigirazu. Some popular ingredients include various types of fish (e.g. tuna, salmon), lettuce, egg, and spam.

There are really no limits to what you can put in onigirazu. The possibilities are endless, which is one reason for its popularity!


onigirazu bento
Onigirazu is a popular home-made bento food

Onigirazu is eaten throughout Japan. It can be found in some convenience stores and supermarkets across the country. It is most frequently made at home as part of a bento (i.e. lunchbox).

History / Origin of Onigirazu

cooking papa onigirazu
Original onigirazu instructions from “Cooking Papa” manga

Onigirazu is a relatively new dish in Japanese cuisine.

It was actually invented and first introduced by a manga (i.e. comic) called “Cooking Papa” (クッキングパパ) back in 1991.

The author (Tochi Ueyama) said he got the idea from his wife, who was busy raising their kids, and trying to make onigiri quickly 1

Despite being invented in 1990s, onigirazu did not really become popular in mainstream Japan until around 2014. Around this time, it was featured on the top Japanese cooking websiteCookpad“, and started spreading around social media.

It became popular because it was easy to make, can fit a lot of ingredients, and has infinite flavor variations. Onigirazu is also very photogenic (once cut in half), which makes it great for showing off on Instagram, and other social media platforms.

People love trying to make beautiful, cute, and colorful onigirazu. Check out some of the photos below:

Onigirazu Gallery

Onigirazu Recipe

Onigirazu is quite easy to make. All you need is some freshly cooked rice, nori sheets, and a filling of your choice.

Here is a great detailed video from Chef Dai on Youtube:

Here are a few more recipes around the web:


Have you ever tried onigirazu before? What did you think of it?

Do you prefer onigirazu or the original style onigiri?

Leave your thoughts and comments below!

Chef Goku

Chef Goku

Chef Goku is the founder and sole operator of The Chef Dojo. He loves Japanese food, and has lived in and out of Japan for many years. He started this blog in 2018 to share everything he learns about Japanese food and cooking. He is also a self-certified Japanese knife nerd. Contact Chef Goku

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