bento

Why are some Japanese preschools banning awesome, adorable character bento?

Considering how much Japan loves food and cute things, it’s no surprise that the country is in the middle of a chara-ben boom. Chara-ben, bento boxed lunches with their contents arranged like popular characters such as Hello Kitty and Doraemon, are a hit with adults and children alike, as parents seem to be having as much fun making them as their kids are eating them.

But not everyone loves this trend of culinary creativity, though, as some preschools and day care centers have started banning chara-ben.

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When first-try character bentos go wrong 【Photos】

The culinary custom of bento, boxed lunches, goes back for generation in Japan. What’s a little less clear, though, is how long people have been dressing up their bentos to look like cute characters.

We’re sure some creative people with both artistic and culinary talents have been making character bentos, or chara-bens, for a long time. But recently, media coverage of chara-bens has gotten intense, and it’s inspiring a wave of newcomers to try their hand at making one for the first time.

But you know the saying, “The third time’s the charm?” People say that because you’re likely to screw things up the first two times, as this collection of first-try bentos shows.

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Creative mum brings amazing character bentos to the dinner table

While some of us may recall our childhood lunches as a series of soggy sandwiches in boring brown paper bags, two lucky children in Singapore are bound to look back on all their meals as miniature worlds of cute and delicious fun.

It’s all thanks to their mother, who decided to expand her skills beyond the humble bento lunchbox, and bring the cute to any meal of the day. Check out her amazing collection of healthy meals after the jump. It’s the best collection we’ve seen yet!

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From plums to panties, the strange and beautiful bento of Keisuke Umeda【Photos】

When you think about the media that artists can work in, ink, paint, stone, metal, wood, and glass all spring readily to mind. We could take an even broader view and include things such as film, sound, and even light. But even then, we’d still be overlooking the creations of Keisuke Umeda, who brings to life scenes of beautiful nature, disturbing juxtaposition, and offbeat humor through the medium of boxed bento lunches.

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You know bento boxes? Those cute, lovingly-designed lunchboxes that Japanese mothers make for their kids or, if the guys are lucky, their husbands? Well sometimes even something as sweet and innocent as a bento can be perverted…

Warning: NSFW images ahead.

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16 fancy eggs from Japanese bento lunch boxes

Eggs are greatly underrated in the bento world. It’s usually rice and all the fun forms it can be molded into or seaweed and its ability to be cut into any shape that takes center stage in lunch boxes across Japan. But the humble egg can be quite fancy in the hands of a highly skilled and creative cook. Let’s take a look at 16 fancy eggs from Japanese kitchens!

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50 items you can buy in Japan to spruce up your bento lunchbox

Bento is a big deal in Japan and competitive mothers are always trying to out-do each other, striving to create the cutest lunchbox. Lucky for them, Japanese companies have come up with a plethora of tools to add smiley faces, shapes, or words of encouragement to any food. Let’s take a look at just a few of the many items you can buy to spruce up your bento!

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Japanese mother creates beautiful, educational bentos that resemble Japan’s prefectures

Making eye-catching bento lunch boxes is a big deal in Japan. Walk into any bookstore and you’re bound to find a least a dozen books teaching you how to make adorable characters out of rice and seaweed. Amble by any off-campus elementary school event where the kids are required to bring a lunch from home, and you’ll hear squeals of “KAWAIII!!!” as someone’s mom most definitely made Pikachu out of cheese. But while most bento feature cute vocaloids or giant titans, this mother’s lunches have an educational twist. Let’s take a tour of Japan’s prefectures made out of food by talented mother and Twitter user, Sasariri.

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Voice actress surprises the internet with her bento making skillz!【Photos】

Is this a masterpiece in culinary art? Of course not, but it surely captures the look and feel of a titan from the series Attack on Titan. Voice actress Yuki Takao has been making and sharing her bento creations on her blog, and her unique style is starting to get some attention. Everyone needs a hobby, even famous people, and with their busy schedules, we’re sure they really appreciate the chance to relax and enjoy their time off. Yuki seems to spend it making unique bento and with food art like this, you have to wonder, what other creations has she made???

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KFC now selling bento lunchboxes from exclusive chain of Japanese-style outlets

People in Japan love fried chicken. It’s so popular it’s become one of the staple ingredients in Japanese bento lunches, where it’s served in small, boneless pieces known as kara-age, and it’s in such high demand that you’ll find queues outside specialist kara-age joints around the country.

World-famous fast-food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken has finally picked up on the popularity of the chicken piece with a new line-up of Japanese-style hole-in-the-wall outlets dedicated to serving up kara-age in a variety of KFC flavours. And that’s not all. They’ll even serve it up in a bento lunchbox too.

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Japanese netizen teaches us how to make awesome sausage isopods for bento lunches

Packed lunches in Japan, or bento, are arguably more exciting than an anywhere else in the world. While such delicacies as cheese sandwiches, chips, and so-not-real-food-it’s-scary “snack packs” reign supreme in the West, typical bento lunches in Japan almost always involve things like rice, vegetables, fish, fried chicken, and potato salad. You name it, if it’s decent food it’s in there, and very often crafted into some cute character or artistic arrangement by a loving parent or spouse.

Today, thanks to a Twitter user in Japan, we’re going to learn how to turn the humble wiener or cocktail sausage into something far cooler: a mini version of a giant isopod.

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If you thought Japanese lunches couldn’t get any cuter, you were wrong

If you’re at all familiar with bento, you’ll probably know that a lot of people will go all out to create adorable (or just plain amazing) meals for their children— or inner otaku, for that matter. I’ve heard that there is fierce competition to make the cutest lunches (especially for special events like Sports Day) so it’s no wonder that techniques and trends are continually changing, and it seems that the latest fad in lunches is the humble dinner roll.

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We’re not going to lie…these sausage people currently trending in Japan freak us out

A new trend is hitting the bento boxes of Japan right now and we are scared. Young children and hardworking spouses across the nation are sitting down at lunch time only to be visually assaulted by what they call “sausage people.” To most, these little weiners cut up to resemble a person seem harmless and most message boards in Japan praise the invention, with virtual screeches of the Japanese equivalent of “OMG, it’s so cute!” Well we have a newsflash for you, Japan. These sausage people, or “so-se-jin,” an adorable play on words of the Japanese word for “sausage” (so-se-ji) and “people” (jin), are down right terrifying. Don’t believe us? Just take a look at this photo compilation of sausage people found on sites across the web. Just be warned, you’ll never look at a sausage the same way again.

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Gotta eat ‘em all with this awesome new Poké Ball bento box

While in America the stereotypical school kid lunch of a sandwich, apple, and some crackers can easily be tossed in a paper sack, things are a bit trickier in Japan. Japanese parents packing a lunch for their child usually include rice and a number of side dishes, which all need to be placed in sturdy containers so they don’t get crushed or spill during the trip to school, all of which then get placed inside a single, larger container called a bento box.

But why settle for a bento box when you could have a bento ball, especially a Pokémon bento ball?

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Creative bento lunches from the past hint at the origins of “kyaraben”

Kyaraben, short for “character bento”, are insanely popular in Asia and Japan in particular. Young mothers, and some fathers too no doubt, spend hours crafting special lunch boxes, using all manner of foodstuffs to create shapes, faces and designs, and there are even entire books and monthly magazines containing hundreds of ideas. Over the years, we’ve seen lunch boxes based everything from Nivea hand cream to video game smash Metal Gear Solid, but it’s easy to forget that the practice of dressing up a packed lunch has, in fact, been around for quite some time.

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Attack on Titan bento ingredients revealed

Hokka Hokka Tei, a Japanese bento food chain, announced its “Attack on Titan Lunch” collaboration with Attack on Titan to create limited-time lunches. So, what exactly goes into a lunch for giant appetites? The answer is a lot of meat and vegetables.

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We try chucking our lunchtime bento into a pan of soup, result is doubly delicious

The cutesy home-made lunches that lucky Japanese children take to school are famous worldwide. For the time-pushed or culinarily challenged among us, though, store-bought bento (boxed lunches) can offer great value for money. Convenience store bento, which are hugely popular all over Japan, contain all kinds of delicious goodies like fish, meat, stewed vegetables and pickles, along with rice. When one bento-loving Japanese university student threw caution to the wind and sunk her entire lunch into her miso soup, she discovered that the resulting soupy concoction was even more tasty than she could have imagined! Thus, convenience store bento soup was born!

Here at RocketNews24 we love to try out rice-augmenting recipes and other wacky food combinations, so when a writer from our Japanese sister site heard about this amazing invention, made by heating the entire contents of a convenience store lunchbox in a pot of miso soup, she just had to give it a try! Let’s see how she got on.

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Funimation to Stream Ben-To Fighting Comedy Anime This Month

North American anime distributor Funimation confirmed on Thursday that it acquired the streaming rights to the Ben-To anime. The company will begin streaming the anime with English subtitles to subscribers on Tuesday, February 11, followed by free streaming on February 28.

Funimation describes the story based on Asaura‘s “school serious/gag action” light novel series:

Every day an epic struggle rages in grocery stores across Japan—the battle for half-priced bento boxes! Once the discount stickers go on, ravenous brawlers start throwing punches in a knockdown, drag-out war over who gets to take home the cheap eats…

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Ignore the name, Kitchen Dive’s bento are cheap and delicious!

There are only three reasons one could possibly fathom going to any establishment that’s known in American English as a “dive”: Cheap beer, cheap beer, and greasy burgers.

Now apparently you can add a fourth reason: Cheap, delicious bento lunch boxes, thanks to whispered-about bento  shop, Kitchen Dive. With just a handful of locations around Tokyo, we’d never actually seen one in the flesh before and almost thought they were some apocryphal legend; some cruel prank older, wiser salarymen were playing on the newbies, maybe (“Oh yeah, there’s a shop selling 200 yen bento. Right around the corner. Caaaan’t miss it.”).

Finally, we spotted an honest-to-goodness, 24-hour Kitchen Dive in the unassuming Kameido area of Tokyo and the 100 yen coins in our pockets practically flew out of their own accord.

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This week in convenience store bento: Our top 5 new releases

Tuesday is known as New Bento Day at major convenience stores across Japan. As we’ve highlighted before, convenience stores in the country put a lot of effort into their ready-to-eat creations. What’s more is they cycle through new flavors on a weekly basis. This can be a double-edged sword as your favorite dish can disappear tragically fast, but you can also count on something equally good coming along as well.

As regular consumers of convenience store bento, the editorial department of RocketNews24 Japan has come together and ranked the top 5 new additions to 7-Eleven, Lawson, and Family Mart for the week of 14 January, 2014. Please refer to it for your own convenient dining pleasure.

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