The traditional Japanese lunch box, or bento, has undergone a number of metamorphoses over the long course of its history, becoming a staple and a unique point of pride in Japanese cuisine. Depending on the occasion, bento can range from a mass-produced lunch container available from railway stations, to lovingly hand-crafted compartmentalised meals set in equally stylish lacquerware. However, the most notable transformation may be perceived in the category of home-made lunch, the ingredients of which not only form an appetising meal but also, with increasing intricacy, a visually engaging one. This is known as kyara-ben (character bento) and it is particularly enjoyed by children, who will often receive bento bearing the likeness of famous manga and anime characters.
In collaboration with the Flatpack Festival, we are happy to welcome Mari Miyazawa — a leading bento arranger and animation filmmaker whose work includes short films such as Twins in Bakery (2013) — to talk about the development of vibrant bento creations in Japan. Herself having invented a similarly illustrative genre of oekaki-ben (picture bento) in which food is arranged to resemble an intricately decorated scene or landscape, Miyazawa will also provide an introduction to turning ingredients into edible characters, revealing how her ideas attain the balance between nutrition and visual appeal.
This event is aimed at showing our audience that creating an edible work of art is something enjoyable everyone can do and be proud of!
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This event is run in partnership with the Flatpack Film Festival as part of which two of Miyazawa's film shorts will be screened in the Trailblazers collection in Birmingham, and where she will run two workshops demonstrating how to create Character Bento.