The Art of Kyaraben: How to Transform your Bento Box?

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7:00. Time to get up, have breakfast and get ready to go to work... And don't forget to prepare your lunch to take to work or to school! If this is a real chore for you to do in the morning - whether it's for yourself, your spouse or your kids - we' ve got just what you need to make your bento prep a little less boring. 

Thanks to this (non exhaustive) list of bento accessories and tools, preparing your lunch to go has never been so fun and easy. If you complain about not spending enough time with your children: preparing a bento kyaraben is a great way to spend a special moment with them in the morning. 

What is a bento kyaraben?

Before getting started, if you are simply wondering what a bento is, check out this article about The bento box and what it is exactly.

bento boxes collection

Now that you understand the concept of the bento box, let's see what a bento kyaraben is. First of all, the word kyaraben is derived from the fusion of the words kyarakutaa, which means "character", and bento. This particular kind of bento box refers to meals where food is cut and shaped in the form of cartoon characters, kawaii animals or landscapes. These bento boxes are traditionally prepared by the mother for her children's lunch at school. In Japan, it is a way to show your love for your children but also a way to make the meal more appetizing and less boring.

bento kyaraben

The essential tools for a successful bento kyaraben

Don't waste your time worrying about what to make for lunch and just let these bento tools do that for you. Even if you are not a great cook, these accessories will make you look like a great chef. The best thing about these bento molds and tools is that they will allow you to make a lot of simple and easy meals with basic and inexpensive ingredients.

The sandwich mold 

This mold will change your vision of the sandwich once and for all. Simply spread the filling of your choice in the center of a slice of bread, cover it with a second slice and place the sandwich mold on top, and press down firmly. You'll notice that the benefit is twofold: 1) the sandwich is shaped like a bear's head and 2) the two slices of bread are tightly sealed so that the filling doesn't get lost when you bite into it.

Sandwich molds

Rice ball and onigiri molds 

From the simple round rice dumpling to the onigiri in the shape of a cat, rabbit or otter head: something to let your imagination run wild with these original onigiri molds. For those who are not familiar with the term onigiri, an onigiri is a rice ball with a filling inside. Traditionally, the onigiri is triangular in shape, filled with salty or sour food and wrapped with nori seaweed. This food preparation is to Japan what ham and butter is to Europe, easy to eat with the fingers and therefore perfect for your bento. If your child is in the phase of being picky, a rice ball shaped like a kawaii cat's head will be a nice surprise for him/her at lunch.

Rice ball mold

The kawaii cookie cutters

Your bento is somewhat monotonous and boring? Let these variously shaped cookie cutters turn your boring bento into real works of art. Simply press the cookie cutter on whatever you want to cut (like carrots, cheese etc....) and cut out little hearts or flowers. A perfect tool if you like to pay attention to small details.

kawaii cookie cutter

Make your rice balls smile with a face bento nori punch

Make your rice balls less... mundane... by adding some funny faces! Why? Because you can. The face cookie cutter will allow you to cut little faces in your nori seaweed leaves, and then place these smiling faces on your delicious onigiri. Impossible not to smile when you open your bento at lunch time.

nori seaweed cutter

A sausage cutter

With this tool, even sausages will make your bento more attractive. Simply take a sausage without skin, or with a thin skin, and press it against the slicing tool before putting it in the pan. You will have octopus, crab or sunflower shaped sausages in just a few seconds.

octopus sausage

A hard-boiled egg mold

If you don't have a second to yourself in the morning, this is the tool for you. Cook some hard-boiled eggs at your leisure while you get ready for work. Once they're firm, simply peel off the shell and put them in these adorable animal-shaped molds. You'll have cute bunny or bear shaped eggs in no time.

hard-boiled egg mold

Must-have bento accessories

With these bento accessories, you will be able to add the finishing touch to your gorgeous kyaraben bento. 

Little character-shaped picks

Forget the wooden toothpicks and make way for the reusable plastic picks. Perfect for picking sausages, veggies, and anything else a regular pick can pick, these picks are adorable and eco-friendly. Available in different shapes, colors and sizes, food picks will add character and color to your bento instantly. 

Animal shaped picks

Mini sauce containers

If you're packing a salad but don't want it to be flooded and soggy with the dressing, simply bring the dressing separately. These waterproof, reusable bottles are perfect for holding individual servings of dressing or soy sauce. Say hello to your crunchy lettuce!

mini sauce bottles

Now that you're familiar with all these new tools, no reason to prepare boring lunch boxes. Have fun and prepare your lunch with Japanese bento box accessories!

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