Monday, June 20, 2011

Playing With One's Food

Being Southern, I tend to favor slathered-on buttercream over architectural fondant any day. Our culture tends to be high on taste, low on precision. That said, I stand amazed by Japan's cultural food phenomenon called Kyaraben, the art of elaborately arranging food to look like people, animals, and popular characters. Originally, Kyaraben was used to encourage children to develop healthy eating habits; moms put the artful arrangements in a child's bento box for lunch. 
This photo of Kyaraben is from Christopher D. Salyers' book Face Food.
Another bento box from Face Food. Piglet certainly is a far way off from Hundred Acre Wood. 
As one could imagine, Hello Kitty is a frequent theme. It can take up to two hours to make one of these arrangements. Japanese parents must wake up early in the morning to get these ready for the bento boxes.
A bento box from Kotobuki, billed as the perfect size for bringing lunch to school or work. It's 4.4" by 4.2" by 3.1". No wonder the Japanese are so trim. 


  1. Hello Kitty is especially cute, but good Lord on high, there is NO way in the world real people have time to make outstanding electronics, rebuild their country from earthquakes and tsunamis AND create cute lunches for their children. My heart goes out to all the exhausted and guilt-ridden Japanese moms who can't make cute sushi rolls at 5 am.
    Tacky American me tells the kids: Make your own damn lunch. ;)

  2. Haha! I love your post!! Yes, I was wondering, too, about the Japanese "guilt." I'm thinking .... hmmm, is it guilt or is this in the vein of the Japanese heritage of small "art," such as bonsai trees or origami? I have soooo many questions that have yet to be answered about this phenomenon.