I was an unloved Western kid. *sobs*
The closest thing to a bento — cue, Japanese-style lunch box set — I ever saw was when my mother cut the crust in my peanut butter and jam sandwich — and she was being generous that way. I feel better thinking very few kids in the West were blessed enough to have moms putting some tender love and caring into their school lunches.
Of course, once we were old enough, we didn’t even get peanut butter and jam sandwiches. We just got our monthly allowance and we had to make it last. And then we didn’t even get an allowance… sighs.
Since we can’t all live on 100-yen snacks, the Japanese (and subsequently, Asians and Asian-lovers) have mastered the art of bento-making, putting in much more than mere love and caring. So if I felt bad for not getting a well thought out lunch box, I feel worse looking at all this creativity put into lunch-form.
A “charaben” is a portmanteau of the Japanese KYARABEN (キャラ弁) for “character bento” ~ and these are ten charaben that I would’ve loved to have had as a kid.