Japan's charaben culture
mothers often slice the ends of hot dogs into the splayed legs of an octopus, adding eyes from tiny pieces of dried seaweed.
Tomomi Maruo is considered the queen of "charaben" -- charater bento boxes. Over the past 13 years, she has become renowned for her realistic portrayals of famous figures, such as Barack Obama, in the boxes.
why has kawaii cuisine taken off in Japan -- and why do adults embrace the trend as much as children?
The answer, it seems, lies in the heritage of a cuisine that has for centuries been eaten with the eyes as much as the mouth.
Today, kawaii has been well integrated with the traditional aesthetic codes that guide the presentation of all Japanese cuisine -- small separated portions, contrasts of color and shape, and reminders of the season.
In Japanese culture, emotions are often not openly expressed, and while it's possible to say "I love you", to many it just feels awkward
One way for mothers to express love for their children is with the daily bento box.
Considered the queen of charaben in Japan, Tomomi Maruo has been honing her craft for 13 years. She runs character bento classes and posts how-to videos on her YouTube channel, where Maruo has about 3,000 followers.