Unwrapping a convenience store rice ball turns out to be one of the biggest challenges at the Olympics.

If you’ve ever had an onigiri rice ball from a convenience store in Japan, you’ll know how incredibly tasty they are. The rice is soft, the filling juicy, and the whole thing is wrapped up in a layer of seaweed that’s delightfully crispy, making it feel as if it was just freshly handmade.

Ensuring the seaweed stays crisp until you open the rice ball requires some special packaging, though, and working out how to open the unique package without tearing the seaweed to shreds can be a bit tricky for a first-timer.

It’s a rite of passage every convenience store onigiri eater has to go through to get to that perfect rice ball, though, making it an experience even old dab-hands can relate to. So when Canadian two-time Olympic speedskater and current reporter for national broadcaster CBC Anastasia Bucsis (@anastasure) recently shared her first encounter with the rice ball and its confusing packaging, onigiri lovers around the world fell in love with her plight. 

▼ Bucsis’ first attempt at opening a convenience store rice ball.

As the above video shows, Bucsis’ first attempt at opening a tuna mayonnaise rice ball from 7-Eleven didn’t go so smoothly. Although she did follow the instructions to pull the first tab down and then tab two and three on the sides after that, the first tab needs to be pulled further, so that it rips through the back of the package as well. That way, the sides of the package will come away more cleanly, leaving the seaweed intact.

Following her plea for help on Twitter — the Japanese message in her tweet translates to “please help” — Bucsis was inundated with helpful tips and hints on how to unwrap the rice balls. And being the intrepid reporter she is, Bucsis reported back a couple of days later to let everyone know her progress.

▼ Bucsis’ new onigiri level: expert

Bucsis is now unwrapping rice balls with the ease of someone who’s been here forever, and she acknowledged the help of her newfound friends in Japan with a message in Japanese that reads: “Thank you to the wonderful people in Japan. You helped me out.” 

At the end of the video, Bucsis can be heard saying “Oishii!” (“It’s delicious!“) and “Nihon daisuki” (“I love Japan“), and Japan responded by returning the love in spades, with comments like:

“Thank you to you too!”
“Awesome! My mom still can’t open it even though she was born and raised in Japan.”
“Thank you for sharing this video. I’m glad that you like Japanese onigiri. I hope you enjoy Japan!”
“I’ve never thought seeing somebody eating onigiri makes me happy. Enjoy your OISHI time during your stay!”
“Your video really touched my heart!! Congratulations. Please enjoy the rest of your stay in Japan.”
“Thank you for taking the time to write that tweet in Japanese!! So glad and thankful.”

The common love for onigiri shared by Bucsis and the people of Japan has created a touching bond that looks set to continue well past the Tokyo Games. And Bucsis is continuing to add Japanese messages to her social media posts for her new friends online, with this latest update showing where she’s at today, on Day 7 of the Olympics.

▼ The Japanese here reads: “I ate a rice ball before the broadcast. Thanks again to the wonderful people in Japan.”

We always thought rice balls were the food of champions, and now we have proof that they really are. They’re certainly more filling than the lunch pack sandwiches that recently surprised reporters at the Olympics, and as her colleague Devin Heroux will attest to, they’re just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to award-worthy convenience store goods!

Source: Twitter/@anastasure via Net Lab
Featured image: Twitter/@anastasure
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