As 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 Amazon.com . 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!