Onigiri vs. Omusubi (Musubi) vs. Nigirimeshi Rice Ball

When a Japanese mother prepares the Bento/弁当 boxed lunch that her kid eats at school, she often makes rice balls with various side dishes.

The rice packed together in a ball is generally called Onigiri (おにぎり), which comes in many varieties. It’s comfort food in Japan, where groceries and convenience stores carry it.

As you may already know, Onigiri has another name, Omusubi (おむすび), Musubi (むすび), or Nigirimeshi (にぎりめし). But are there any differences between them? Today, I researched that.

Onigiri vs. Omusubi vs. Nigirimeshi

Onigiri vs. Omusubi vs. Nigirimeshi Rice Balls

When Japanese mention the dish, we often use Onigiri or O-Musubi. Which to use depends on the person.

It is generally considered Onigiri is commonly used in western parts of Japan, while those living in Eastern Japan tend to use Omusubi.

But, in reality, research found that over 80 percent of Japanese people use the word Onigiri in everyday conversation.


Onigiri Omusubi Nigirimeshi Shape

In general, no matter what shape, it is okay concerning Onigiri.

Historically, the word derives from Nigirimeshi. So they both can have any shape, typically covered with a sheet of Nori seaweed.

On the other hand, in many cases, Omusubi refers to a rice ball with a triangle shape partly covered with a dry sheet of Nori.


Onigiri Omusubi Nigirimeshi Meaning

But in terms of meaning, Onigiri, Omusubi, and Nigirimeshi are the same thing, based on this article on Onigiri Japan and Kojien/広辞苑, one of the most authoritative dictionaries of the Japanese language.

(Reference Page: Wikipedia おにぎり )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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