kyaraben

A Trio of Bento-Themed iPhone Apps

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One sign that bentos are becoming trendy, if they aren’t already, may be that they are being made into iPhone apps. There is of course the database app from FileMaker, Bento (which messes up searches for bento recipes!), which uses the divided bento box as a metaphor for organizing data. But there are a few apps that actually use the edible box of food we love as the main theme. Here I review three of them - A Bento Box: Virtual Sushi; Obento!; and Charaben. continue reading...

Opposing cut or chigai-giri: The easiest ever decorative cutting technique for bananas, cucumbers and more

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A couple of people asked about the twist-cut banana slices that were tucked into a corner of the scotch egg bento. This is actually a very simple decorative cutting technique that can be done in a couple of minutes, even if you are a beginner. I learned how to do this cut back in my first year of middle school (7th grade in U.S. school terms, or when I was 12-13) in home economics class. It’s usually called chigai giri (違い切り) or ‘opposing cut’ in Japanese. I also call it the ‘twist cut’, since the business end of the cut looks twisted to me.

There’s more than one way to do this cut, but here’s the way I learned how to do it. It still works best for me. continue reading...

Bento Concept: A charaben site with a touch of elegance

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An interview with Diana of the elegant French charaben blog Bento Concept. continue reading...

The 3rd Sanrio Charaben (Kyaraben) Contest winners are announced

In Japan, there are numerous bento contests, especially targeted at practioners of the art of charaben or kyaraben, cute character bentos. The biggest one of them all is arguably the annual charaben contest held by Sanrio, now in its 3rd year. The one rule of the Sanrio contest, not surprisingly, is that the bento entries must feature Sanrio characters.

The winners of the contest were announced yesterday. Here’s the Golden Grand Prix winning bento :

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Like the winning bento last year, it’s a picnic bento, titled “It’s spring! Picnic bento for everyone”, and the Golden Kyarabeniste is a Ms. Harumi Sugiyama from Saitama prefecture. The bento has the following mind-boggling components: continue reading...

Fun with Japanese egg molds

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Something fun from the archives, in keeping with Easter. Incidentally, I haven’t been able to update Just Bento this week due to a sudden change of plans, but I’ll be back next week with frugal bento recipes and more. So until then…enjoy your weekend!

Egg molds are a fairly easy way to add some cuteness to a bento box. They are meant for kids’ bentos, but there’s nothing to stop you from using them for yourself of course. I usually can’t be bothered to make molded eggs for everyday bentos, but for picnics and parties they are quite a lot of fun.

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Egg molds are offered by various online sources such as J-List and eBay merchants (see the left sidebar for some listings), as well as at 100 yen stores. There are two types of egg molds: one has a simple clamshell shape with a fastener, and the other has a inner half-shell. You can use the latter kind without the inner half-shell too. Either way, be sure you get one that has the clamshell shape and the closing fastener - these features are what make an egg mold work properly. continue reading...

Carrot and cheese stars, flowers, hearts

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A very simple yet effective bento decoration, suitable for all types of bento. continue reading...

Apple Bunnies and More: Decorative Apple Cutting Techniques

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Apples are such great fruit - available almost any time of the year, inexpensive, and handy. While simple apple slices or even a whole apple are welcome additions to a bento box, if you just spend a few minutes cutting the pieces in decorative ways, they can really perk up your bentoscape, as Tracy showed us in the last post.

We sort of grow up in Japan knowing how to do some fairly simple apple cutting techniques. (Or at least, I remember my mother and aunties doing this sort of thing when I was little.) Here are some that you could use, from the basic to the more complicated. continue reading...

A Japanese Life of Bento

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Bentos are just starting to penetrate the consciousness of people outside of Japan, though judging from the growing interest in bento sites like this one and several others, it’s definitely trending up. However, the bento or obento (the more polite honorific term) in its many guises is an integral part of life in Japan. Here are the many different types of bento that a typical Japanese person might eat at different stages of life. continue reading...