Kyaraben: Cute and Delicious Character Bento Boxes

Bentos (Japanese boxed lunch) are popular among Japanese for a fast and easy way to grab a meal. They are single portion meals that can either be prepared at home, as takeout from restaurants, or pre-packed at convenience stores. It’s an economical, healthful, and delicious meal-in-one that is readily available almost anywhere around Japan.

Kyaraben_panda

The word bento (弁当) is southern Song Dynasty slang, from the word “convenience,” in the Kamakura period (1185–1333) when cooked and dried rice, or hoshi-ii, was developed. During the Azuchi-Momoyama period, from 1568-1600, intricate wooden lacquer boxes held bento at hanami (tea parties). Bento culture rose during the Edo Period (1603–1867) and flourished until after WWII, when standardized food was supplied for school lunch boxes.

Kyaraben pandas. | lucky sundae

9628114837_65136fbf46_zYou can unleash your creative instincts in creating delicious bentos not with just with your cooking prowess, but also with your imagination and creativity. You can create cute characters using the ingredients for your bento. It would surely make for an interesting meal.

Pig and sun kyaraben. | Todd Lappin

Kyaraben or “character bento” (キャラ弁) are elaborately created using edible ingredients to look like popular characters in Japanese anime, manga, or video games. But you can also use your creative instincts and imagination and make anything you fancy. Let the mind and hands get to work, and the tummy will reap its rewards. Kyaraben was originally intended to whet children’s appetites and make vegetables and other ingredients more interesting for them to try.

Tamagochi chicks kyaraben. | megan

Kyaraben has become so popular that national competitions are held where enthusiasts compete for the most aesthetically pleasing arrangements.

Check out these YouTube videos by 0kaeri Recipe Channel on how to make kyaraben!

LEGO kyaraben:

Click image or here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6c44NmyGYJM

Totoro kyaraben:

Click image or here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtDGlTHe8zc