Tantalizing Rice Ball Eraser Concept Gets Stationery Lovers Dreaming

Culture Art

A new stationery concept posted on Twitter in Japan got people dreaming of eraser acquisitions.

“Onigiri” Anticipation

Japan’s is known around the world for its inventively designed stationery. And a recent Twitter post introducing a new kind of eraser shaped like a rice ball soon amassed more than 200,000 likes. The item starts as a square, but with careful erasing, users can craft it into a classic round or triangular onigiri according to preference. Further erasing reveals the filling of the rice ball, and a poster who goes by the handle Yū shared his excitement at discovering what ingredients the onigiri hides.

The onigiri eraser in three forms. (Courtesy Yū)
The onigiri eraser in three forms. (Courtesy Yū)

However, all is not as it appears. In an interview, Yū revealed that the tasty looking erasers are in fact his own work. Partly concept art, they grew out of his interest to create items that he would like to see made. “The parts representing the rice and nori [seaweed wrapping] are there in reality, but the filling is a superimposed illustration. I actually began by cutting a store-bought eraser into the right shape and then painting part of it for the nori. Then I used specialized software on the photograph, adding the filling in a way that would seem natural.”

Yū said that he came up with the idea of rice balls when he was thinking about an eraser that was white and would be fun to shape. He thought that including the filling too would add extra impact. The works he created were tiny: each is a 16.5-millimeter square with a thickness of 11 millimeters. The fillings in the Twitter picture are, from left to right: umeboshi (pickled plum), salmon, and okaka (dried bonito flakes with soy sauce).

Product Possibilities

Yū typically does not look to sell his creations. However, he mentioned that he had been in talks about bringing the eraser to store shelves. “If it goes into production, I’ll let people know on Twitter.” He also joked that as he likes onigiri completely covered by nori, the eraser might be black all over on the outside.

Could it be seen in stores one day? (Courtesy Yū)
Could it be seen in stores one day? (Courtesy Yū)

As a design student, Yū said that he started posting his creations from around March, when the spread of COVID-19 had dominated social media, overshadowing more light-hearted topics online. He insists that it is not enough for his creations to be useful, as he also wants them to draw people’s interest.

The main points he focuses on are the quality of the items, how best to photograph them, and coming up with an introduction for social media, especially trying to make people laugh. In a May post, he wrote, “I made a little rubber ring, so the spoon doesn’t drown in the bowl.”

A rubber ring keeps the spoon clean. (Courtesy Yū)
A rubber ring keeps the spoon clean. (Courtesy Yū)

Another favorite is the set of “chocolate specimens,” inspired by insects, which he posted in September. He made the packaging from paper and the basic shapes for the chocolates in a 3D printer, before applying and sculpting putty on the surface. Naturally, they are inedible.

“Chocolate specimens” reminiscent of insects. (Courtesy Yū)
“Chocolate specimens” reminiscent of insects. (Courtesy Yū)

“On Twitter, I post things that are interesting, if not particularly functional, but in the future, I’d like to make something functional that gradually becomes a part of people’s everyday lives,” Yū said. “The ultimate would be to make something that’s everywhere like a tea bowl or a Walkman.”

Another concept is of an incense stick that changes in aroma over time. (Courtesy Yū)
Another concept is of an incense stick that changes in aroma over time. (Courtesy Yū)

(Originally published in Japanese on FNN’s Prime Online on October 16, 2020. Translated and edited by Nippon.com.)

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