“Don’t play with your food” is a phrase many of us in the west grew up with, but in Japan the act of arranging edibles by colour and shape is met with a more forgiving eye, and many have even taken to developing it into an art form and becoming masters of their craft. One such person is onigiri gekijō (@onigirigekijo), who over the last few years has been mastering the art of ‘onigiri sculpture’, and has become a recognised artist across numerous SNS channels.

The artist specialises in forging rice balls into three-dimensional designs, often taking the shape of animals or popular anime characters, such as this particular design resembling Inosuke Hashibira from Kimetsu No Yaiba.

It all started back in 2019 when onigiri gekijō took part in a rice ball competition, posting their designs to instagram. Back then, the artist says that the appraisal for their work was weak, and that their son – a high school student – thought little of the rice ball art. But with repeated practice, onigiri gekijō was able to master the art form and overtime won over the appreciation of both fans and their son.
Nowadays, the artist works as a freelancer, and strives to make unique onigiri art pieces every day, with their son acting as a tasting judge and art critic.

Of course, onigiri gekijō’s creations don’t go unnoticed, with the artist’s instagram page having over 17,000 followers and their YouTube account with over 6,000 subscribers. In fact, the rice ball sculptures have become such a hit on SNS that the artist has recently released a book containing more than 140 of their most popular designs.

Inside are images of some of the artist's best works, instructions on how you too can master the art of each design and a section on onigiri history and trivia.

Below are a few of the designs included in the book.

Kappa-Wrapped Reverse-Rolled Onigiri, made by wrapping vinegared rice with thin slices of cucumber.

This rice ball resembles the classic Japanese yokai, Rokurokubi, and even replicates the spirit’s long twisted neck. The design is finished with a comb made of takuan, hairpins made of pasta, and sprinkled shiso makes up a kimono pattern.

Inspired by a famous painting, this rice ball takes on the shape of Oda Nobunaga, a powerful Japanese Daimyo who is often viewed as the first unifier of Japan. The onigiri is decorated with shiso leaf, crab stick and seaweed strips, with the family crest made from carefully placed rice grains.

OH! Rice art that is delicious to eat
Author: Onigiri Theater
Price: 1320 yen (tax included)

By - Connie Sceaphierde.