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Kyaraben Is The Japanese Art Of Making Lunchtime An Adventure

This mom has mastered Kyaraben, or character bento, without any training. And you can too!

Jack Shepherd · about 2 months ago

  • cooking
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All photos courtesy of Etoni Mama via Instagram

Kyaraben (short for “Character Bento”) is a food art that centers around turning food into cute characters and scenes, often from popular culture, to make lunchtime a fun, engaging, and colorful adventure for kids (and, let’s be honest, grownups too). While it likely originated as a way of turning fussy eaters into foodies, it’s become a pastime the whole family can enjoy, with more and more unbelievably creative food artists making bento lunches that are as fun to look at as they are to eat. 

One artist who is at the top of her game is the Tokyo-based Etoni Mama, a mother of three children aged 12, 10, and 8 (“Etoni” is a combination of her kids’ names, Eko, Toko, and Niko) who started her journey making cute and vibrant food art as a way of helping her middle daughter become less of a picky eater. Since then, she’s mastered the format, becoming a star on Instagram and even releasing a cookbook of her creations. Most importantly, though, all of her children have become much more excited about eating — and it’s easy to see why. 

Check out some of Etoni Mama’s wonderful creations, then follow her on Instagram for inspiration you can use to make incredible lunchtime worlds of your own.

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