Space Onigiri: Do these long-lasting Japanese rice balls taste any good on planet Earth?

We put the JAXA-endorsed product to the test.

When you’re miles away from home and looking for something to perk your energy and lift your spirits, you can’t go past a favourite childhood meal to give you the boost you need.

That’s the theory behind Japan’s Space Onigiri, developed by Onishi Foods and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) as a meal for long-term stays on the International Space Station (ISS).

Luckily for us, these space-bound rice balls are also sold on Earth, so when our cosmos-loving reporter Masanuki Sunakoma came across one at a store inside Tokyo Station recently, he immediately purchased it and took it home for a taste test.

▼ The product contains “Alpha Rice” that doesn’t require cooking.

Following the simple four-step preparation process illustrated on the back of the bag, Masanuki first removed the small oxygen-absorbing pack…

…And then filled the bag with water, up to the dotted line, essentially hydrating the rice inside. While cold or boiling water can be used for this step, Masanuki chose to add cold water.

Then it was time to shake. Masanuki resealed the top of the bag and shook the whole thing around 20 times. Once this was done, all that was left to do was wait, and seeing as Masanuki chose to use cold water instead of boiling water, the rice ball would be ready to eat in 60 minutes instead of 15.

▼ Once an hour had passed, Masanuki opened the top of the bag and peered inside.

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