February 26, 2009 at 02:09 | Posted in Cute Food Photos | 1 Comment

Face Food: the visual creativity of Japanese bento boxes by Christopher Salyers 

Every school day, Japanese children tear open their bento boxes at lunchtime and squeal “KAWAII!” Their mothers had risen at dawn and spent three hours arranging slices of egg, cheese, and seaweed into Doraemon, Pikachu, and Super Mario. Okay, I’m hyperbolizing… but “charaben” (character bento boxes) arranging is in fact soaring in popularity in Japan.

Japan bento boxes of cute decorated characters, or charaben. Creative packed lunches for school children. 
In his new book Face Food, Christopher Salyers documents the art of the kid’s meal. Character bentos are a modern spin on elaborate food arrangments dating from 12th century Japan. To my surprise, the driving force behind these visual feasts is not artistic fulfillment. The parents toil in the kitchen for the sake of their children; one arranges ham slices into Piglet to delight them, encourage them to eat nutritiously, and hopefully boost their social standing in the classroom.

Charaben: cute Japanese school lunches decorated like anime and manga characters. 
The book includes helpful hints on how to make your own bento box character lunches. Above are some adorable animals that would suit a Sweet Lolita. Rice is dyed with curry powder or pink food coloring. Egg, sausage, and fish cake form the facial features.

Gothic lolita Japanese children's lunches or bento boxes. Food decorated like cute cartoons and animals. 
Gothic Lolitas would never be deficient in iodine: a lot of black seaweed (nori) is required to sculpt Emily the Strange, Jack Skellington, and Spiderman.

I whined to my mom: “I’m so deprived! You should have woken up at 5am to craft Goth-themed lunches for meee. Like a skull-shaped sandwich, impaled with red peppers and dripping with ketchup-blood. Or a soy-based interpretation of the Seven Sins, one for every day of the week.” She snapped: “Well you were lucky to have ANY FOOD at ALL!”

† From Face Food: The Visual Creativity of Japanese Bento Boxes by Christopher D. Salyers (New York:Mark Batty Publisher, 2007). 


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  1. チャンピオン tシャツ マークバイマークジェイコブス 2013 http://wwwXNKFCxm.onlinecheesejp.com/

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