One of the quiet heroes to emerge in this time of grave crisis in Japan is the humble little white ball of rice called onigiri or omusubi.

We've seen them everywhere. Onigiri distributed to survivors in shelters, the recipients both young and old biting into them with smiles on their faces. Onigiri being made at a frantic pace by volunteers in communities that escaped the brunt of the damage, for their neighbors who were less fortunate. As the days have passed and the supplies continued to dwindle in especially hard-hit areas, there have been scenes of mothers carefully crumbling onigiri into hot water to feed piece by piece to their small children, with nothing left to waste.

Onigiri have even played a part in the Tokyo metropolitan area, where people faced with rolling blackouts have been making sure to cook enough rice while the power is still on so they can make onigiri for later.