A few weeks ago, I wrote about the first Sanrio Character Bento Contest . The results of the second round of the contest, which will hopefully become an annual event, have just been announced . The winner of the Gold prize (called the Golden Kyarabenist award) is this tour de force picnic lunch!
The winner has a kyaraben blog (in Japanese of course), and she talks about her winning entry . She says she got her inspiration for this bento from the cute egg carton. (I like using egg cartons as disposable bento containers  too, though mine are not even close to this level of cute). [Update:] Digging a bit deeper into her blog, it turns out she was also the winner of the Yokohama Kyaraben contest ! She is one talented bento artist.
There are two silver prizes or Silver Kyarabenists (is that going to be the new word for kyaraben artists?). I really love this one, which is bread-based. She baked the little rolls and the bread basket herself! [Update:] She’s blogged about it here  - check out the other bento she entered too, a Hello Kitty in an astonishing multilayered frilly dress.
And this beautifully detailed, jun wafuu (old Japanese style) bento won the Ichigo Shimbun (Strawberry Newspaper) award. Who knew Hello Kitty could be so elegant? The creator of this one has blogged about her entry here . She says that she dressed Kitty in traditional costume from her home, Akita (which is northern Japan). She also entered some other awesome bentos .
There are a further 9 winners, plus two Ichigo Shimbun special prize winners - one of which is made by a 4 year old girl. I think she did a great job!
Check out the other prize winners on this page . If you click on an image you’ll get a close-up view in a popup window, with the creator’s comments (all in Japanese). There is also a slide show of more bento entries on this page , and a gallery page here . There were 490 entries in all. There are comments from the judges on this page . The lady at top is an assistant professor at a college of nutrition, and the other ladies are the creators of the Sanrio characters they’re holding.
Some of the other prize winners have blogged about their entries. One of the Silver prizewinners has written about her win  (though the photo is missing at the moment). I couldn’t believe that akinoichigo-san’s Hello Kitty as Actress bento (the bottom right one in the big grid, with Kitty in a pink top hat) only won a ‘best of the rest’ prize, especially but she writes on her blog  that she thinks she didn’t do better because the bento isn’t actually portable. She said she had a lot of fun making a 3-D bento though (which she doesn’t get to do for everyday practical bento), and the additional photos she shows of the bento are breathtaking. (Her work is also featured in the Face Food  book.) Another ‘best of the rest’ prizewinner has blogged about her entry here  - love the Batsumaru! Here’s another winner . And other kyaraben bloggers who didn’t quite make the winner’s table this year have blogged about their entries - here , here , here , here . Evidently this contest was a huge deal in the Japanese kyaraben blog community.
I wonder if they’ll ever open up a contest like this to international participants? That could be very interesting.
[Update:] Some more Japanese blog entries about the contest: