You might not guess it, given the country’s well-known acceptance of stoicism as an admirable virtue, but Japan absolutely loves puns. In fact, the characteristics of the Japanese language, such as multiple potential pronunciations for the same kanji character, make it a veritable pun-producing machine.
For example, the character for “rice,” 米, is usually read as kome. When it’s combined with other characters, though, it’s read as mai or bei, with the latter being pronounced like the English word “bay.”
Of course, that also means bei is pronounced like the first half of Baymax, the loveable caretaker/combat robot from Disney’s Big Hero 6. And now that Japanese fans of the film have figured out how to put a little rice into Baymax, they’re also coming up with ways to put a little Baymax into their meals by making Baymax curry rice, rice balls, and nabe hot pots.
You can thank pop idol Haruna Kojima for kicking off the culinary trend. Earlier this month, the AKB48 member found herself with some extra time on her hands, so rather than make a plain old plate of curry rice, she decided to shape the fluffy white grains into a likeness of Baymax, adding two small, connected circles of dried seaweed to recreate his simple facial expression.
Identifying her creation as Baymax, but written with the kanji for rice, Kojima posted the above photo to her Instagram account, where it put smiles on the faces and rumbles in the stomachs of all who gazed upon its appetite-stimulating cuteness. Even better, in contrast to the difficulty in trying to craft an edible version of Pokémon’s Pikachu or Yo-Kai Watch’s Jibanyan, Baymax’s soft, simple form and almost entirely white color scheme means that just about everyone can manage this cooking project, as proven by the steady stream of Rice-max photos that have been popping up since.
ベイマックス (@beimaxx) January 29, 2015
Aww, doesn’t he look cute relaxing in his curry bath? We’d give him a hug, if we weren’t worried about getting stains on our shirt.
Arranging the rice differently gives the impression that the loveable robot is laying down for a nap, covered by a blanket of warm curry.
米マックスww 作ってみた^ ^ http://t.co/E6YTvKqzwV—
しゅかん接着剤 (@gptj08) January 28, 2015
Even six weeks after its release, Big Hero 6 is still going strong in Japan, where positive word of mouth about the films variety of action, comedy, and heartfelt emotion made it the highest-grossing movie in the country last weekend, just like it was for the three weekends before that. It’s a testament to the film’s broad appeal that stretches beyond just the kiddie demographic, and includes fans old enough to enjoy a little alcoholic refreshment with their Baymax curry.
米マックスやりたくて夕飯はカレー( ●ー● ) http://t.co/9stg8Z0Ind—
遠藤 裕紀 (@ehfbhj0928) January 28, 2015
Adding grownups into the mix, though, sometimes opens the door for some pretty dark humor.
▼ “Baymax. Cause of death: suffocation.
量産型鈴木 (@ai_s_i) January 28, 2015
Of course, Japan has a lot more ways to eat rice than just covering it with curry roux. How about a Baymax oyako-don, a rice bowl with chicken, egg, and the cuddly robot?
今日の夜ごはん 親子丼米マックス作った( ●ー● ) http://t.co/gHXFk4PY90—
はるな (@mspy27haru) January 19, 2015
Some people in Japan pass on the chicken, mixing just rice, a raw egg, and some soy sauce for a quick protein blast.
▼ The body language on this rice sculpture is actually pretty impressive.
もちゃ (@motya_3) January 05, 2015
If you’re after even lighter fare, you can combine rice and miso soup, which is also a great way to make use of leftovers of the two Japanese staples.
ベイマックス (@baymax__fan) January 28, 2015
And you can’t forget the simplest rice dish of all, rice balls.
▼ On one hand, there’s no body, but on the other, two Baymaxs!
It’s also worth bearing in mind that the rice/bei/Baymax pun still holds up even if you’re not using plain white rice. For example, mochi (rice cakes) are just as appropriate for adding a dash of Disney to your hot pot.
うちも汁あるとこに米マックス浮かべたい。😭💓 一人鍋したい😭💓 大好きな人じゃないなら一人がいい💕💕 http://t.co/Ei8ORVSmii—
Strive (@Iehazu0406) January 25, 2015
On a chilly winter day, we can’t imagine anyone not being satisfied with that meal.