Imagine if your mom made you meals that became famous all over the world… you’d probably belong to the Clean Plate Club, right?
Malaysian food artist and mother of two Samantha Lee began by making Japanese lunch boxes (bento) in 2008 to encourage her elder daughter to eat independently. Bento boxes may be stylishly arranged and decorated to look like popular movie, TV or video game characters (kyaraben) or people, animals or buildings (oekakiben). There is some amazing bento art out there, but soon Lee was taking it to a new level on a daily basis.
Despite her lack of formal training, Lee’s creativity found an outlet in the incredibly detailed, cute and nutritious meals she painstakingly put together for her two girls, using only run-of-the-mill household tools like scissors and knives. She describes herself as “an ordinary, regular and average mom, crazy about making a mess in the kitchen.” Although she’s keeping her feet on the ground, her star has risen quickly in the international media in recent months, from Belgium to the Ukraine and all over the world. She now works as a kids party planner, doing sewing, crafting, baking and doodling in her spare time.
Check out her latest creations, including a step-by-step pictorial guide to crafting your own!
Regular readers will no doubt know that we at RocketNews24 love few things more than a good character design bento lunchbox, or kyaraben for short. There are whole sections in book shops and libraries here in Japan dedicated to the art of crafting beautiful packed lunches using an array of techniques to transform something as plain as rice and a handful of toppings into characters and objects that will make their diner grin from ear to ear. And this new batch, published earlier today by Japan’s Naver Matome, shows us just how far creative cooks, mothers, husbands and wives are prepared to go to spruce up what can often be the day’s least exciting meal. Put down your Lunchables and check these out.
Ekiben, or “station bento,” can be found on train station platforms across Japan, conveniently packed for travelers too busy to prepare their own meal. They usually come in plastic or styrofoam containers wrapped with a decorative paper cover. But this ekiben is a little different. Found in Kochi Prefecture, this on-the-go bento is packaged in clear plastic wrap to display the goods inside, and what seems like merely a fish sitting in a white supermarket tray is actually sushi. Let’s take a closer look at this bizarre whole fish sushi ekiben.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Tokyo Station as well as Grand Central Station, New York: two titans of transportation who have served their respective metropolises proud.
To honor this centennial, Grand Central hosted “Japan Week” which drew crowds to the already crowded terminal. Hearing of this, RocketNews24 sent a reporter to investigate the centerpiece of Japan Week; the ekiben counter!
According to a 2012 survey of 2,000 Shinsei Bank employees, the average worker now spends 510 yen (US $5.79) on lunch every day. That’s down from 710 yen (US $8.06) in 2001 and 600 yen (US $6.81) in 2007. That’s a 30% decrease in twelve years.
Nikkan Spa, a popular magazine in Japan, conducted its own survey and found an even bleaker outcome. In a survey of 100 salarymen (office workers) and public servants in their 30s and 40s, a surprising 64 percent of workers admitted that they spend 500 yen (US $5.67) or less on lunch. An even more astonishing 24 percent of workers get by on just 250 yen (US $2.84) a day.
A measly 250 yen (US $2.84) won’t even buy a beef bowl at Sukiya, famed to be the cheapest lunch around. If these salarymen can’t even afford the cheapest meals available for purchase, what exactly are they eating? Let’s take a peek inside the slimmed-down lunchboxes of Japan’s typical worker.
You could be fooled into thinking that this is some enormous new add-on for the current Playstation 3 console, but what you’re actually looking at here is a multi-layered wooden bentō lunchbox sculpted and assembled by a master craftsman for Sony Japan.
Presented to staff at Square Enix and Konami in celebration of 25 years of Final Fantasy and Metal Gear games, these stunning lunchboxes are designed to look identical to Sony’s home console, featuring everything from the ridged top to the tiny silver Playstation logo on the front, all the while leaving plenty of room inside for a delicious lunch.
These things are so beautiful that it almost makes us want to trade in our plastic Playstation 3 for a wooden one…
“Hideo-kun! What do you want in your lunchbox for school tomorrow? Ham and cheese? Peanut butter and jelly? Or how about Solid Snaaaaaaaake!”
The image you see before you, ladies and gentlemen, is genuine, 100% completely edible food. We’ve seen colourful character bentō lunchboxes before, but this is something else.
As part of its 25 years of Metal Gear and Final Fantasy celebrations, Japanese game developer Konami has had a set of truly amazing lunchboxes made for a photo event. Featuring characters from both of the long-running series, the lunchboxes are so detailed that they almost look like waxworks. No matter how many times we look at these things, we can’t quite get over the fact that it’s actually food.
Plastic shopping bags are one of those things that haven’t been improved on since… ever? Sure there have been attempts to improve their biodegradability, but that’s hardly the limit to their inherent weaknesses.
This is especially well-known in Japan where premade soups and bentos fly off the shelves of supermarkets and convenience stores like premade hotcakes. Using a traditional plastic bag to carry a curry rice bento always gets tilted onto its side so that it ends up looking like a crime scene when you get it home. You’re luck if the curry actually stays inside the container.
Lunch Vehicle may be the answer to this problem, taking plastic bags to the next level with its innovative design which has been influenced by tried and tested heavy industry techniques.
A lone salaryman walks in to a room with bento in hand and sits down at a table to enjoy his lunch in privacy. He unties the knot holding together the bandana bundle to reveal a small brown bento box and chopsticks case. Finally, the man removes the lid from the bento to unveil a mouth-watering assortment of…colored yarn?
What follows is some hardcore lunchtime needlework.
We’ve covered the phenomenon of charabens in the past ranging from the extremely cute to the downright bizarre. However, as with any art form, the horror genre cannot be left out. Inspired by some photos of horror bentos found online a reporter from the website Pouch, Hotaru Yamakawa, has decided to make her own series of 3 horror bentos and help you make your own.
The Japanese people love creating unique bento lunches (lunches neatly packed in a box) in various shapes and sizes, ranging from cute “character bentos” (chara-ben, as they’re known in Japanese) for children to take to school , to more conventional bento lunches you can bring to your office. But in the case of a particular bento shop in Naha city on the island of Okinawa, their bentos have been gaining attention not for their design but for their volume! Read More
- 61 more images of cosmetic surgery from South Korea1
- An Illustrated Guide to the Implications of not Washing Your Hands After Using the Restroom2
- From “Love Princess” to “Silent Hill”: Awesome Japanese prefecture names changed into English3
- 12 culinary delights from Japan that you can find in New York City4
- Red rain creeps out South Asia, intrigues scientists5
- Men’s butts are shaped like green peppers, according to this butt illustration guide6
- A Simple Approach to Understanding Women: a Japanese Guide7
- Pantene Philippines calls out sexism in the workplace with clever ad8
- Hey guys, unlucky with women? There’s always Latvia!9
- 92-year-old grandmother creates gorgeous traditional Japanese toys10
- “Wait, you’re a dude? Meh, marry me anyway.” New male princess stealing hearts in China1
- Beautiful Chinese boy “traps” the hearts of Korean netizens 【Photos】2
- Nine unusual products from Japanese designer, Oki Sato3
- 10 incredible tiny houses in Japan: a photo tour4
- The last photo of faithful dog Hachiko breaks our hearts5
- Cute credit cards could send you to the slammer6
- Girl runs away from home to stop her parents from buying a Japanese car7
- Subway mini skirt peeping tom found innocent8
- Live-action Attack on Titan gets release date, new director9
- 13 surprising Japanese translations of American movie titles10
- What the hell is this monster?? 【Updated】1
- 45 adorable pictures of animals acting human 【Photos】2
- Chinese designer depicts Eastern vs. Western human behaviors in clever pictographs3
- Before and After: 31 Startling Images of Plastic Surgery in Korea 【Photo Album】4
- When Two Amazing Worlds Collide: Welcome to the World of Cat Sushi!5
- “Wait, you’re a dude? Meh, marry me anyway.” New male princess stealing hearts in China6
- 10 things Japan gets horribly wrong7
- Beautiful Chinese boy “traps” the hearts of Korean netizens 【Photos】8
- The amazing disaster relief equipment of Japan’s Self Defense Force9
- 10 things Japan gets awesomely right10
- Before and After: 31 Startling Images of Plastic Surgery in Korea 【Photo Album】1
- 252 of Japan’s favorite animated gifs2
- What the hell is this monster?? 【Updated】3
- 10 things Japan gets horribly wrong4
- Chinese designer depicts Eastern vs. Western human behaviors in clever pictographs5
- Thinking about plastic surgery? This ad may make you laugh – or it could make you think twice!6
- Meet the new model set to make manga artists’ lives a whole lot easier7
- 10 things Japan gets awesomely right8
- When Two Amazing Worlds Collide: Welcome to the World of Cat Sushi!9
- 45 adorable pictures of animals acting human 【Photos】10
- Men’s butts are shaped like green peppers, according to this butt illustration guide
- A Simple Approach to Understanding Women: a Japanese Guide
- Pantene Philippines calls out sexism in the workplace with clever ad
- Hey guys, unlucky with women? There’s always Latvia!
- 92-year-old grandmother creates gorgeous traditional Japanese toys
- Cross-dressing man in women-only train car causes controversy in Japan
- First full-length trailer for live-action Kiki’s Delivery Service shows off sets, cast, new theme song
- When Two Amazing Worlds Collide: Welcome to the World of Cat Sushi!
- [Quiz] How Well Do You Know Your Japanese Hand Gestures?
- Fresh sushi for night owls at Osaka fish market’s midnight restaurant
- 10 incredible tiny houses in Japan: a photo tour
- Apologizing Like a Japanese Woman: A Practical Guide
- 13 surprising Japanese translations of American movie titles