Ready to jazz up your meal in the most adorable way? Put some fun in your lunch box with your own kyara-ben.

Known as the “character bento,” the kyara-ben is a great way to get artistic with lunch—not to mention the secret weapon of many creative parents with fussy kids to feed. With shapes ranging from cute, simple faces to incredible likenesses of popular characters, there’s no end to the possibilities!


To make the letters, place cut pieces of nori (seaweed) over a slice of cheese. (top middle plate)

Sprinkle some salt on the rice, then form it into a ball with plastic wrap. Wrap some cut nori around the head.

To make the nose, cut a boiled carrot. Cut the sliced cheese to make the eyes and the shiny spot on the nose.

Design the pupils, mouth and whiskers using cut nori.

Potato cheese balls, Japanese rolled omelette, sausage, broccoli, and some sweet potato and green bean ama-kara-ni (simmered salty and sweet seasoning). (top right corner in the bento box)

Today’s tip

Use plastic wrap to shape the character’s face. Remember to mould the rice into shape while it is still warm. After removing the wrap, stick on nori, cheese and and a carrot (whiskers, eyes and nose) using mayonnaise so that they won’t slip off.The nori will shrink if the rice is too hot, so wait until it has cooled a little.

Rie Kamiyama

Mother of two sons, aged 9 and 14 years old. Started making Kyara-ben six years ago when her son came back home without finishing the lunch she made him.