Thinking about bento

Onigiri Pon!

One of the questions asked during the Anniversary Giveaway was why Japanese people like cute (kawaii) things so much, as is evident in the cult of kyaraben or charaben. I'm not really sure of the answer to be honest, but it is true that from children to adults, women and even some men, love things that are cute and childlike. It may stem for the appreciation for detail in small objects like netsuke. Or maybe Japanese people are just a bit childish?

Or, maybe it's because from a very young age, Japanese kids are exposed to kawaii culture. This is from a childrens' program that airs on the NHK Education channel (NHK is the state-run TV station, equivalent to the BBC) called いないないばあっ! (inai inai baa), which is also the name of the game you play with babies 'Now you see me...Now you don't!'. It's aimed at 0 to 2 year olds, and is the highest rated kid's show on the NHK. This song is called おにぎりぽん!(onigiri pon!)

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Bento culture

A list of articles about bento culture, especially in Japan.

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UPDATE: Details of the Challenge are now up here! We'll start on January 13th.

I'm quite overwhelmed by the amount of interest in my little idea about some sort of health and weight loss related bento challenge for January! The original post is here if you missed it. Here is my thinking about this at the moment:

Bento boxes: The perfect tools to combat portion distortion (and an idea)

UPDATE: Details of the Challenge are now up here! We'll start on January 13th.

The Washington Post says to use a salad plate for portion control, but I say, what about a bento box? Plus, the germ of an idea.

The results and comments so far for the most recent poll question: Do bentos help you save money? are very interesting. (The poll will be open for another week or so, so if you haven't already cast your vote and tell us what you think!) While the majority of you say you either save a lot (39%) or a little (31%) by making bentos, the rest of you are not sure, or think you might be spending more money.


A bit off-topic, but a visual treat for you for the weekend. This is an assortment of delicate rice crackers from Kyoto, that my mother sent to me in her latest care package. They are mostly savory, but a few (like the brown flat ones that look like mini pancakes) are subtly sweet. I've arranged them in a hand lacquered two-tier wooden bento box. I'm contemplating whether I'm brave enough to pack a regular bento in there since it's so beautiful!

But what I wanted to focus on were the rice crackers. Here is a closeup:


I think the blend of colors and textures is so beautiful and elegant without being at all garish. It really has a Kyoto aesthetic.

As I've said here a few times previously, I'm not really into cute charaben/kyaraben, but if I can manage to make my bento boxes as visually appealing as this humble assortment of rice crackers, I'd be very happy indeed.

In response to the picnic bento I posted yesterday, Zoé asked:

Really cute! Hey, I read on your blog that you aren’t keen in cute cooking…was it a joke ;)

Good question! I thought I'd qualify what I meant when I said that cute kyaraben (charaben) are not really my style.