I dedicate this articles to moms who struggle to get their kids to eat the food they work so hard to prepare for them. Introducing Kyaraben (キャラ弁). Kyaraben means “character bento” in short. Bento (弁当)  is the Japanese word for lunch box. In Japan, bento is a norm for all age groups. You could either prepare your own lunch box from home, go to a supermarket to get one or go to a bento shop to purchase a bento. Some of these bento shops allow you to mix and match, like how we do it in Singapore with economic rice. There is a slight difference though. Often the ingredients have more nutrition and there is a wide selection to choose from. Furthermore, they are much more affordable than what we purchase from the economic rice section in a coffee shop or a hawker centre.

Both the population and the government believe in the need for a healthy lifestyle, the real relative cost of eating healthy is also more affordable in Japan, compared to Singapore and some other developed countries. Don’t be fooled by the exchange rates or prices of Japanese products outside of Japan or even the fact that Tokyo can be an expensive place to live in. Japanese do ensure the entire population is well fed and that every meal is a well-balanced diet. Packing lunch from home is part of that lifestyle, and this habit is drilled into their minds from young. However, it can get challenging to make sure the kids eat their bento, especially their vegetables. That’s why KYARABEN was invented. As the name suggests, the lunch in the lunchbox is arranged in a way that it looks like anime characters from the kids’ favorite anime. Below are some examples.

 

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Pikachu Bento (Soranews24.com)

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Mario Bento (Flickr – Miki Yoshihito; Some rights reserved)

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Sadaharu Bento (Pinterest – Baragaki Nira; バラガキ ニラ) 

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Detective Conan Bento (Amino Apps)

 

The lunchbox is filled with food and arranged in a way that is meant to look attractive and exciting for the kids to enjoy. It also gives them an opportunity to interact with their classmates. Of course, schools do have lunches provided where the students help to serve their fellow classmates. I’ll write another article about that. Moms, if you want a solution to your kids’ lunch woes, this is a solution.

For anyone, in Singapore, who is interested, not just moms, check out Spoonful Singapore’s website for upcoming Bento Workshops, where they teach you how to make really cute character bento. You could also go onto YouTube to learn more. And yes…Waraugumi will be producing an episode soon. Stay tuned!