Kyaraben: Japanese Character Lunch Boxes
Posted on May 10, 2008
In the culinary arts, they say that presentation is as important as preparation.
In Japan, it’s all about presentation when making character lunches. It is called “Kyaraben”, or “Charaben”, and goes beyond simply making the meal look appetizing.
Most Kyaraben are made by mothers, who want to make their children’s lunches more appealing by arranging the contents of the Bento (lunch box) into their favorite cartoon characters or super heroes.
Kyaraben are also designed for family picnics and outings, and may use a theme such as a train ride or automobile trip to determine the picture.
The history of bento in Japan goes back some 900 years although the first boxes made for bento were the wooden lacquered boxes made during the late 16th century.
Bento box lunches have been popular ever since, and there are thousands sold daily at train stations and aboard trains, but they aren’t nearly as artistic as Kyaraben.
There are several contests for Kyaraben artists and their entries are quite imaginative and most importantly, edible.
There is the Sanrio Kyaraben Contest and the Yokahama Kyaraben Contest, both won by the same person. Unfortunately for me, the winner’s blog is in Japanese and I can’t be sure I translated her name correctlyâ€¦I come up with Miho Chindonya.
Of course, if I were talented enough to create one of these masterpieces, I’d probably smack the hand holding the hashi, (chopsticks) that was trying to steal a taste!