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2nd Grader Wins Creative Rice Ball Contest with Fukushima Apple 'Omusubi'

Osaka's new competition featured creative rice lovers making "omusubi" from their favorite local ingredients, attracting entries and fans from around Japan.



Fukushima apple omusubi, winner of Osaka's first Creative Local Rice Ball contest on February 27. (Courtesy of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Association website.)

Creative Local Rice Ball Contest? Osaka held its inaugural Kosuikyo Cup in its Chuo Ward recently, attracting entrants from around the country. For those who weren't there, the Kousuikyo Cup is Osaka's creative rice ball contest using local ingredients.

The event, which concluded on February 27, was organized by the local Agricultural, Forestry, and Fisheries Association (Nosuikyo). Its sponsor was the Public Promotion Association (Kosuikyo). Together, they aimed to revitalize regional food culture and encourage rice consumption. 

Six winning entries are displayed, with the grand prize-winning Fukushima Apple Omusubi featured in the foreground. There are also culinary creations inspired by regional delights such as Osaka's iconic takoyaki. (© Sankei)

Among the contestants was eight-year-old Kou Nagaoka, a 2nd-grade student from Fukushima City. His inventive dish, the Fukushima Apple Omusubi (rice ball), earned him the top prize.

The competition attracted 884 entries from nationalities around the world. Each one showcased the unique flavors and traditions of their respective home regions. 

Handmade Rice Balls with Regional Flavors

Participants were tasked with crafting rice ball recipes infused with local culinary heritage and ingredients. After a preliminary screening, the top selections from six districts across Japan competed in the final round. 

Next, the runner-up prize went to: "Kujukuri⭐︎Blessings of the sea and village: Niboshi and peanut miso batter-grilled rice ball." (Courtesy of the organizers' website.)
The hiyajiru omusubi, with the rice ball in the Miyazaki region's popular cold miso soup, was also a big winner. (Courtesy of the organizers' website.)

A panel of seven judges, including culinary experts and scholars, evaluated each entry based on seven factors. They were looking for taste, regional authenticity, and creativity. A combination of expert evaluations and audience voting was used to choose the winners.

Kou's winning creation was a delightful fusion of his favorite ingredients - apples, bonito flakes, white sesame seeds, and a special sauce. Moreover, this captivated the judges. 

Kou Nagaoka from Fukushima took home the Grand Prize Work for his “Fukushima Apple Omusubi.” (Courtesy of the organizers' website.)

With guidance from his mother, Shuku, Kou crafted his masterpieces in just one day. Reflecting on his victory, Kou shared, "I was worried whether apples would go well with rice balls. But it turned out incredibly delicious. Winning the grand prize feels like a dream."

The six award-winning entries, including the runner-up and special awards, will be showcased on the Creative Local Rice Ball Contest website.


(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: The Sankei Shimbun


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