As a rule of thumb, if you want to cuten something up, add some panda. Just look at these panda rice balls (onigiri). There is no other animal on this planet that can make a ball of white rice look this adorable.

We know what you’re thinking: “Sure they’re cute, and I’d love to make them myself, but don’t you need the dexterity of a Japanese ninja housewife to do so?

Not anymore you don’t! The panda rice balls you see above were actually made by one of our Japanese reporters (single, female, hasn’t made a bento in 5 years) with the help of the fabulous “Panda Onigiri Set,” which can be purchased for around $13 from sites like Bento & co or JBOX.

Already own a Panda Onigiri Set but are having trouble getting your rice balls to look like the ones in the picture? RocketNews24 is here to pander to your needs with our step-by-step guide to making adorable panda onigiri!

・Seaweed (nori)

■Panda Time (Beginners Course)

1. Cut out a panda face from the seaweed using your Panda Onigiri Set seaweed stamp.

2. Fill the Panda Onigiri Set rice mold with cooked white rice

3. Remove the rice from the mold. You should place it on a piece or plastic wrap to keep the rice from sticking to the table. You may need to use a spoon to get the rice ball out.

4. Carefully place the cut out seaweed parts on the ball of rice. To keep the seaweed from sticking to your fingers, try wetting the end of a toothpick with water and using that!

5. Stop. It’s Panda Time.

So you’ve mastered the basic panda rice balls, maybe made some for your friends and family and are enjoying your temporary boost in popularity but know it won’t last forever… Well now it’s time for the Advanced Course.

【A Bit of Blush】
Cut out two little circles of ham and place them on the cheeks to bump of the cuteness an extra level. Be sure to tell your friends they’re blushing because they love you.

【Mrs. Pouty Panda】
Flip the eyes and mouth over and you’ve got Mrs. Pouty Panda. That little piece of seaweed near her mouth was a complete accident, but turned out to look like a mole. Quickly realizing where we needed to take this, we made a head scarf out of plastic wrap and tied it together with a fashionable red bow. Oui. Madame Panda Bouedeuse.

【The Bear Essentials】
Change the eyes again and you can easily make regular bears as well. Color the rice with a big of ketchup, use the “nose” seaweed for the eyes and trim the “ear” seaweed a bit and you’re done!

While the three above are our own creations, there are plenty more variations that can be found on the net. We’ve made a few of our favorite, which you can see below.

Photos, Original Article: Meru Rinko

▼ The one on the right was inspired by a photo we found on the net

▼ The two panda lovers…

▼ …and the third wheel :(

▼ It’s always a party during Panda Time!

▼ Try not to press to hard when cutting out the seaweed…

▼ The strip of seaweed after cutting out several panda faces. Stylish in its own way!

▼ The Panda Onigiri Set
[ Read in Japanese ]