Review and Book Giveway - Face Food: The Visual Creativity of Japanese Bento Boxes

book-face-food-cover.jpgAs you may know already if you’ve been following Just Bento for a while, cute, highly decorated bentos known as kyaraben (or charaben, short for character bento), or oekaki bento (picture-drawing bento) are not my style, or what this site is largely about. But I am drawn to the sheer work and creativity that goes into those bentos, most of which are made for little kids, as I’ve noted before.

Now there is a new book in English about this type of bento. Face Food: The Visual Creativity of Japanese Bento Boxes by Christopher D. Salyers is a compact hardcover book with page after page of full color photos of kyaraben, mostly made by Japanese mothers (and one Japanese father) for their little children. Avid bento fans may have already seen some of the bentos included, such as the famous three little pink pigs bento pictured on the cover. There are also works from two American bento artists, including Spa Woman from Sakurako Kitsa, but the focus is on the Japanese creators.

The book is not really a how-to book, but rather a sort of pocket sized coffee table book (it’s from an art and design book publisher). There are a couple of how-to pages, but the most interesting text is the introduction and the too-short questionnaires with a few of the bento creators. It’s a nice intro to kyaraben . (My one hope though is that it doesn’t further perpetuate the misconception that every Japanese mother makes such elaborate bentos for their children, which I like to repeat a lot is definitely not the case.)

Face Food: The Visual Creativity of Japanese Bento Boxes will be available on March 10th on I have the advance copy I received for review to give away, with the publisher’s blessing. If you’d like to get this book, leave a comment to this post, being sure to put your email address in the ‘email’ field (don’t worry, it isn’t exposed to spammers) and stating you’d like the book, before the end of Tuesday, February 19th wherever you happen to be. One winner will be selected at random.

[Update:] The drawing is now closed. The lucky winner is Hope, who blogs at The Sinister Scribe. Congratulations Hope!

(We determined the winner with this bit of JavaScript, which generates a random number: Math.ceil(Math.random() * 73) (73 is the number of people who commented).)

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My daughter and I are brand

My daughter and I are brand new to Bento making. I thought it would be a nice way to connect to my 14 year old and her love of anime and manga and achieve a healthy lunch all in one swoop. I am still very much a neophyte at creating the lunches but slowly catching on. I am still at the stage where I am in awe when I came make a hard boiled egg look like a heart or star(who knew?). Your website has been a total inspiration. I would so love a chance to win the book. Take good care.

New Bento book

I am truly enjoying your sites and blogs. I am just starting to make bento for my lunches and love how you make it so simple.

when i was a kid, my mom

when i was a kid, my mom used to make bento boxes for me to bring to school, perhaps less creative but as much love. one thing i missed is those little fish shape soy sauce squeeze bottle- the other day i saw some in a japanese supermarket in NYC :)

I would love to win a copy of this book!

How interesting! I love seeing art in all its forms. I’d love a copy of this book. The last book I bought was about harajuku fashion. I love to see how creative people can be and how much of that persons personality shines through at the same time.


what a great opportunity. i love coming to your site for inspiration and direction in bento making. the weekly planner has been a great way to involve my kids in the planning of their own lunches. thank you!

The book

I have already been coveting this book. I would love to own a copy.


it’ll end up being a lovely coffee table book which makes people drool. but what would be lovely is a how-to book in english. can’t wait for someone to come out with it. Else it’s just having to brush my japanese language to a higher level.

Bento Box Book

What a great looking book! Congrats



OMG, bento book. I have to get my hands on it. Could you please put my name in the running? Thank you! I’m usually the only one who brings a bento to school on most days, and a lot of people are amused to see me making my own food and carrying it japanese style (my box wrapped in a cloth). They find it incredulous to know that I have time to make my own food from scratch even though I’m in school daily from half eight to 6 in the evening. heh. But it helps me destress; cooking and packing lunch for the next day. (:

Could be a nice present for my wife

I am addictedinto making bentos and buying all these boxes. I get a lot of inspiration from you site. Thank you! And with this book, I can try to make a kyaraben. Hope to get it.


I have to say I’d ADORE this book! It’s just what I need right now.. :D


That looks really cool, I hope i’m not too late to be entered in to the draw Fingers Crossed!


I love this blog so much. Thank you for all the excellent content; it’s a real gift. I’m very much a neophyte with regard to bento, and you make me feel welcome and inspire me to keep on keeping on with bento, and eating more mindfully. And now a book to cross fingers about —yay you!

me too!

i’d like to be entered into the drawing for this book. yay!

also, i just recently discovered this website and have really been enjoying reading it. thanks for all the work you put into it!

Yay, food pron :)

Even though I’m a bento beginner and my bentos are never “cute ones”, but usually standard German food, I’d really love to get some inspiration from that book.

Maximum Cuteness Achieved

This book looks like it has the potential to break planets with how impossibly cute it is. I’d love a copy!

Face food

I would love that book!

I saw that book a few weeks

I saw that book a few weeks ago and cant wait for it to come out! Thank you for the chance! Your blogs have inspired me and has been very helpful! Thank you!

Bento book

I’d love to have a chance to own and read this book. I entered a comment earlier today, but did not see it posted, so am adding this anew. Thanks for this and all your excellent and yummy information.

I hope it isn’t too late.

I hope it isn’t too late. I’d love to get a book like this for ideas!