Our reporter completes a challenging race only to face a tougher challenge — a giant rice ball!

Our reporter Masanuki Sunakoma recently found himself in Niigata Prefecture, on the western coast of Japan. Niigata is famous for a number of things, like fighting alpacas, cursed toilet paper and the Nose Hair Pond. But while all of those things are worthy of a quick visit to Niigata,  Masanuki was actually there to take part in a Spartan Race, a notoriously tough race that’s both physically and mentally demanding.

The race was no joke, and required a lot of preparation, as well as strength and stamina; the course was set in Niigata’s Gala-Yuzawa ski resort, and as such consisted of many challenging slopes. As he found himself jogging along the gruelling mountain paths, with his legs on fire and his lungs screaming out for a break, there was one thing that kept Masanuki’s legs moving, one in front of another.

As the French philosopher Blaise Pascal once said, “in difficult times, carry something beautiful in your heart,” and Masanuki, whose entire body was currently very much in the middle of a ‘difficult time’, had just one thing on his mind.

Yes, the only thing keeping Masanuki going through his demanding Spartan Race was the thought of eating a Bomb Onigiri, a spherical rice ball with a variety of fillings jammed into the middle. He’d spotted a sign advertising the rice bombs near the race’s starting line at Echigo-Yuzawa station, and it had been on his mind ever since.

The store responsible for the Bomb Onigiri in question was the Yukinto onigiri shop, which we’ve covered previously. Yukinto are known not only for their generous portions, but also making their rice balls using koshihikari rice, one of the most popular types of rice in Japan. It’s short, fat and sticky and Niigata Prefecture is responsible for producing most of it.

With each step, Masanuki fell into a rice bomb trance. No longer was he focused on how much his body was hurting–instead he turned to more pleasant thoughts, like “how big will the rice ball be?” and “what filling will I get?” And as Masanuki reached the finish line, he was sure that the only reason he was able to complete the race was the thought of tucking into a delicious Bomb Onigiri when he was done.

There are two types of Bomb Onigiri — the regular Bomb Onigiri (520 yen [US$3.59] – 880 yen [$6.08]) and the Big Bomb Onigiri (2,200 yen [$15.34]). Masanuki had just run a pretty tough race and was feeling good, so decided to go for a Big Bomb Onigiri. After all, if he could overcome literal mountains, he could surely eat a giant rice ball!

All the rice is cooked fresh once the order has been made, and the onigiri was in Masanuki’s hands after about eight minutes. Even though he’d been looking forward to this all day, upon seeing it in his hand, Masanuki felt a little intimidated. Was this really a giant rice ball? It looked more like a dinosaur egg!

The Big Bomb Onigiri is made using around four cups, or 600 grams (21.2 ounces) of uncooked rice. Masanuki also got to pick five different fillings for his Big Bomb, so he went with stir-fried mustard greens, cod roe, salmon, shiso miso and braised pork.

With all the skills and finesse of a bomb diffuser, Masanuki carefully sliced the Big Bomb in two with his chopsticks to reveal the fillings.

▼ !!!

▼ “It’s huge!!”

It was an absurdly large rice ball, but it was clear that Yukinto value quality as well as quantity. The rice ball was perfectly sweet and fragrant, and the rice was fluffy and delicious; as expected of the best rice in all of Japan.

The rice ball was even better than Masanuki had been imagining mid-race, and the miso soup that came with it was equally delicious!


… it was too much for Masanuki to eat in one go.

Yes, the man who had just run a pretty gruelling race up and down literal mountains, the man who was wearing a t-shirt saying ‘be unbreakable’… was beaten by a rice ball.

Masanuki took the remaining half home with him to eat over the next few meals, and decided that for next year’s race, he’d think about a normal sized Bomb Onigiri for motivation instead.

But if you’re ever in the Echigo-Yuzawa station and want to challenge the Big Bomb Onigiri, Masanuki recommends you give it a try. It’s certainly more than just your run of the mill onigiri, that’s for sure!

Restaurant information
Yukinto / 雪ん洞
Address: Niigata-ken, Minamiuonuma-gun, Yuzawa-cho, Yuzawa 2427−3
Open 9:30 a.m.-7:00 p.m.

Images: ©SoraNews24

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