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A kyaraben containing rice balls decorated to resemble pandas

Kyaraben or charaben (キャラ弁), a shortened form of character bento (キャラクター弁当, kyarakutā bentō), is a style of elaborately arranged bento (Japanese boxed lunch) which features food decorated to look like people, characters from popular media, animals, and plants.[1] Japanese homemakers often spend time devising their families' meals,[2] including their boxed lunches.

Originally, a decorated bento was intended to interest children in their food and to encourage a wider range of eating habits. It has now evolved into a cultural symbol, to the point where national contests are held.[3]

In popular culture[edit]

Kyaraben lunchboxes are a major plot element in Bento Monogatari, a 2010 short film by Belgian director Pieter Dirkx.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Super Sied (10 May 2008). "Kyaraben: Japanese Character Lunch Boxes". Weird Asia News. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
  2. ^ "Dude, Where's My Food? Nobu Los Angeles – Lavender and Olive". Lavender and Olive. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  3. ^ Itoh, Makiko (10 July 2009). "The 3rd Sanrio Charaben (Kyaraben) Contest Winners are Announced". Just Bento. Retrieved 18 September 2009.

External links[edit]