Japanese Bento: Changing the Definition of Lunch-Time

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Kyaraben (short for “character bento”) are boxed lunches, elaborately arranged to look like characters from popular media. In Japan, everyday home-makers are creating all manner of kyaraben, based on characters from Japanese cartoon shows and comic-books. So, how exactly do you go about making them?

We asked blogger Juru Mama, who has become known for posting pictures of her homemade lunches, about kyaraben-making techniques.


Choosing a theme
I make kyaraben based on characters my children request, so my first step is to search for images of the character in question online. Some points to keep in mind when selecting your image are the ease with which it can be reproduced and whether or not the character has a cute facial expression.

If repeating the same character, I figure out ways to add seasonal touches to the image, as having a similar visual every time isn’t very interesting. For example, by simply stamping out leaf shapes from carrots you can make foliage to add a fall feel to your kyaraben — it’s easy to add a sense of the season without having to make intricate decorations.


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