Tuesday, April 8, 2014


This coming weekend in Houston is the annual Japanese Festival in Herman Park! Since I joined my dojo three years ago, I've awaited the festival every year with anticipation and bated breath. I've performed in our festival demos since joining, and I think I'm finally getting the hang of the emotional roller coaster of performing in public.

Step one: Panic.
What if I mess it up? I invited friends and family to come and watch. I don't want to look bad in front of them. They're looking forward to seeing something great. What if I disappoint them? Anyway, I won't be the only one I might embarrass. If I mess up, I make my whole dojo look bad. What if my partner doesn't show up? What if he forgets which technique I'm supposed to do? What if I get stage fright? What if I already have stage fright? Oh no! Is this stage fright? Oh gosh! I have stage fright! Great. Now I'm shivering and perspiring cold sweat. Lovely. Now I'm going to look all bedraggled in front of the entire city of Houston- if I ever do make it on stage. Is my hair okay?

Step two: Over compensate.
Okay. Calm down, self. I'm only going to be up there for less than 15 seconds anyway. Just get pumped up and you'll do fine. Talk to other people. That'll distract you. *Sees random team mate* HI LOVELY FELLOW DOJO FRIEND!! LET'S BE AWESOME!!

Step three: Perform.
*Enter stage, bow, and breathe deep* KYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Step four: Realize it's over.
Is it over? Did I even do my technique? I did? I even did it well and looked great? Seriously? But I missed it. Let's go again!

Step five: Enjoy the Festival.
*Runs about still in uniform* Ooh! Lookit kimonos! Lookit tea ceremony! Lookit Taiko drummers! Lookit origami! Lookit deep fried Japanese food! Lookit! LOOKIT!

And on Sunday, I get to do it all again!

To celebrate the coming fest, I'm sharing my own method for making onigiri.
Onigiri are made of rice and a filling- This can be anything you like. Meat, fish, or veggies.I've made sweet-spicy pork filling. I've broiled canned tuna and mixed it with sauce to make a filling. You can braise mushrooms in soy sauce and use them.
My method for making them was gleaned from reading several Japanese cookbooks and glancing about online. There are other methods for various skill levels, but mine is a good way for a beginner to start.

First, get everything together

I'm right handed and like to work left to right. If you're left handed or prefer to work right to left, reverse your set up.
You will need:
* Pot of hot rice
* Wooden spoon (I know my picture shows a metal spoon. Do as I say, not as I do. I do stupid things sometimes and scratch the bottoms of pots.)
* Filling of choice
* Bowl of cold salt water
* Teacup, or whatever you plan on using for a mold
* Plate

Set everything up as in the above picture before you start. Once you start, you're hands will be covered in hot, sticky rice and you won't want to scramble for a plate.

Step 2

Rub the tea cup and your hands with the salty water. Dump any puddles back into the bowl.

Step 3

Fill the cup about half way with hot rice.

Step 4
Dig a pit in the center of the rice, pressing the rice against the walls of the cup.

Step 5
Fill the pit with your filling of choice- about a tablespoon.

Step 6

 Cover the filling with 2 to 3 tablespoons of hot rice.

And tap it down firmly and evenly.

Step 7
Invert your cup over a plate.
Give your cup a tap, then lift the cup away.
 If your onigiri doesn't slide free from the cup, give it another solid tap.
Stubborn onigiri means the cup was too dry or the rice got too cold.


Repeat with the rest of your rice and filling.

If you want to take these with you on a picnic (say, to your local Japanese festival to watch the Jujitsu performance) let the onigiri cool and wrap them individually in plastic wrap before packing in a cooler.


  1. Boy am I happy that I cam upon this just before making lunch. It really was a great guide for a beginner like me and it turned out really well. Thanks for sharing!

    1. So glad it worked out for you! What did you stuff yours with?

  2. Awesome! Love that tea cup so much!

    1. The teacups are cute- I wish I knew where they came from!