Inside the Bento Box: Exploring the Art of Charaben (#キャラ弁)
To see more photos of beautifully decorated bentos, browse the #キャラ弁 hashtag.
For many Japanese people, having home cooked bentos, or boxed meals, for lunch is a part of everyday life. Often parents will wake up early in the morning to prepare and pack the lunches into individual bento boxes for the whole family before they go to school or work. In recent years, the daily endeavor to prepare a balanced and appetizing meal has evolved into an artistic talent. These have taken the form of “charabens" (キャラ弁), short for "character bentos."
Charabens are bentos that are arranged to resemble famous characters, animals or other cute icons using the ingredients of the meal. Charaben making originally started as a way to encourage fussy kids to eat everything in the bento, including vegetables. Nowadays, with more cooking ideas and specialized tools at hand, this elaborate style of bento creation has become a hobby for many mothers. The bentos are increasingly sophisticated with rice balls shaped into rabbits, eggs baked to form stars and seaweed carved out into kids’ favorite manga characters. Skilled charaben are also beginning to gain recognition for their craft as many mothers have taken to writing blogs and cookbooks about their work, producing new cooking utensils or even entering charaben cooking contests.
Local Lens: Exploring Rio de Janeiro with @ticianaporto
In this series, we let local Instagrammers show you their favorite places to shoot around their hometown. To explore more of Rio de Janeiro, follow @ticianaporto on Instagram.
As the community of Instagrammers has grown and connected people across the globe, so too has our ability to share some of the personal, hidden and beautiful locations in our hometowns.
In the second of a two-part series of local guides to Rio de Janeiro, Carioca Instagrammer Ticiana Porto (@ticianaporto) shares her favorite places to capture in the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City). Ticiana has lived in Rio for 10 years and has challenged herself to take and share a different photo of the city each day since 2011.
To kick off your visit, Ticiana suggests cycling along the seaside, starting in the eastern beach community of Leblon. “Head west and you’ll reach the famous sidewalks of Ipanema and then Arpoador, a small peninsula with a great view. Stop for a photo and a coconut in Arpoador, then keep cycling along Copacabana Beach to the Leme neighborhood.” Not a fan of cycling? Ticiana also encourages visitors to stop and spend an afternoon on Ipanema Beach, drinking caipirinhas and admiring the fashions. “In Ipanema, everyone goes to the beach dressed and ready for their night out after.”
For some grand views of Rio de Janeiro, Ticiana has three favorite spots: