Artist, Riyu Yuda, has been trending on social media platforms including Twitter and Instagram in Japan for the extraordinarily detailed bento box art the artist creates. Of course, everything used to create the characters is edible!
Check out Riyu’s art on Instagram (@you.stance_ing).
Kimetsu no Yaiba and Jujutsu Kaisen fans in Japan have been going wild on social media after the artist posted the creations on Instagram. Riyu’s Instagram has 77,000 followers who can’t get enough of her bento art.
On Twitter, a bento art page has been posting her work in admiration of the quality and attention to detail, recognizing how her work has been going viral on social media platforms in Japan.
鬼滅の刃の映画 #無限列車編 が大人気ですね〜！🔥
— ObentoPark（お弁当パーク） (@ObentoPark) October 23, 2020
Another user, Mafumafu Gohan, praised the artist– stating that her work was too amazing!
— まふまふごはん🍙 (@gurumebuzznews) April 13, 2020
Known as Kyaraben (キャラ弁) in Japanese, meaning character bento or character-themed bento, this term refers to bento or lunch box art depicting characters from pop culture- often involving anime or manga- out of food.
Kyaraben, a form of decorative bento, has long been a part of Japanese culture. It is said to have originated as a way for mothers to get their children to eat the vegetables that were included in their lunch but were often left in their bento boxes when they returned home from school. By creating cute characters and turning a “boring old vegetable” into art, the children would be less reluctant to eat their daily helping of veggies.
There have been Kyaraben created for almost any anime that has ever graced viewers’ eyes. The recently trending Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba and Jujutsu Kaisen series are no exceptions.
Riyu Yuda has gone to even greater lengths to create some of the most detailed and realistic bento art you’ve seen.
In a recent article, Yahoo Japan interviewed Riyu and asked some questions about her bento art. Riyu started making Kyaraben seven years ago when her oldest son was in kindergarten.
Like many kindergarteners, her son didn’t want to go to school every day. But knowing that he would be able to open up his bento box to a new character surprise helped encourage him to go to school without a fuss.
Riyu still makes Kyaraben for her daughter who is currently in kindergarten but states that she never stopped making Kyaraben for all three of her kids. Riyu joked how it wasn’t just her children who looked forward to her culinary creations. Other students, and even a teacher, looked forward to seeing her child’s lunch every day.
She said that when she started, she wasn’t as skilled as she is now, so her work wasn’t as refined. She once spent four hours finishing a piece for her son but it was worth it because he started to finish his lunch each day and make less of a fuss about going to school. As she gradually improved at bento art, she was able to incorporate more of her children’s favorite dishes into them.
As for the recent Kimetsu no Yaiba and Jujutsu Kaisen pieces, Riyu said that the characters are made with either a rice ball or hanpen, a white and soft fish cake made from fish paste and mountain yams as a base. Hanpen are usually included in oden, a classic Japanese hotpot dish with an array of ingredients to choose from.
Continuing, Riyu states that simpler characters like Snoopy or Hello Kitty can be made from rice balls, but the more complex-looking characters like the ones from Kimetsu no Yaiba or Jujutsu Kaisen have to be made from hanpen with additional features fashioned from carefully cut seaweed.
When asked how the white hanpen base is turned into a skin-toned color, Riyu replied by letting us know that aurora sauce- or a mixture of ketchup and mayonnaise- is used to coat the hanpen to create skin tones. The amount of ketchup determines how dark each skin tone will be. This is how Riyu made the bento art for Satoru Gojo from Jujutsu Kaisen.
For the colors that can’t be made from various mixtures of aurora sauce, Riyu uses food coloring and mayonnaise to achieve colors like blue or green, often found in eyes. For colors lighter than the black seaweed known as nori, Riyu uses other types of seaweed such as wakame or kelp. She adds that Gojo’s hair is made from radishes, mentioning that radishes, eggs, and different types of pickles- tsukemono- are good for creating various colors.
For those of you who have young children, a loved one who needs to pack a lunch for work, or are just plain hungry, try making some of your own bento art! It may prove to be a fun, and definitely rewarding, hobby since you get to eat your creations! Also, be sure to follow Riyu (@you.stance_ing) on Instagram for inspiration.
Kevin Murasaki grew up moving back and forth between Chicago and Yokohama, Japan. Known as a "hafu", Kevin is half Japanese, and half American. Now a videographer and drone operator based in Fukuoka, Japan, Kevin enjoys playing basketball, driving on mountain or "touge" roads, and fishing in his free time. Kevin is a recent graduate of the University of British Columbia.