Onigiri Day

Delicious onigiri
This past Friday was onigiri day at Theo's kindergarten. Onigiri is rice that is formed into a shape, usually a triangle or ball, and usually wrapped in a sheet of seaweed. The rice can be left plain, slightly salted, mixed with toasted sesame seeds, shirasu, or other types of furikake. They are also sometimes filled with little bits of goodness, like pieces of vegetables, meat, or pickled things. Every other Friday, Theo is required to bring only onigiri as his lunch to school. He can have as many as he likes, but nothing else. I really love onigiri, and I know the Japanese do too for the most part, but it seemed a little excessive that they would enforce a special day in honour of onigiri.

What Theo thinks he is doing
at kindergarten each day

After enquiring a bit more, I was told that this is done every two weeks to make the children aware of world hunger and others in the world who do not have nice bento to eat every day. I think it is a fantastic idea, but I am really not sure if many of the children Theo's age are getting the message. After his first onigiri day, I asked him a few questions about his lunch. He told me it was a really great lunch and that there was nothing out of the ordinary with it. His words were exactly: "it was super oishii (delicious)!!". Yeah, I don't think he was given a taste of what starving children feel like. I certainly don't think most 3 year olds have a definite grasp on the real world. Just to prove a point to myself, I asked him if he had fun riding orcas and hunting dinosaurs in kindergarten that morning. The answer was, of course, an enthusiastic yes.

So, every other Friday I continue to place a few little onigiri in Theo's bento, knowing that he will be just as excited about eating it as he is with all of his lunches. Maybe by the time he is ready to leave yochien he will be old enough to understand a little bit of the reasoning behind it, but until then he will get to exclaim how oishii his onigiri is.

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