2nd Annual Kyara-ben Contest!

We are very excited for our second JETAA Kyara-ben Contest, a collaboration between JETAA Portland, JETAA BC and JETAA PNW! Join us on July 11th at 11:00 AM (PDT) via Zoom for a fun afternoon of friendly competition and getting to know people from all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

With quarantine keeping us from tasting each other’s food, we figured this would be a great opportunity to enjoy the artistic and visually appealing food art form that is Kyara-ben.

For those who don’t know, Kyara-ben is short for Character Bento, the art of making cute, detailed box lunches that look like popular characters. Extremely popular in Japan, it is not uncommon for Japanese moms to create cute and intricate designs for their children’s lunches, even every day. However, Kyara-ben is not just enjoyed by children, but has been popularized for people of all ages in Japan and around the world through social media and magazines.

We challenge you all to exercise your creativity and cooking skills to create some amazing bentos and meet some fun, like-minded people. JET Alums, JETAA friends and family– everyone is welcome. The more, the merrier! All are welcome to compete or just watch and admire the amazing bentos that everyone has created.

How to compete:

  1. Register for the contest here (people in the same household who are all competing should register separately)
  2. Design and create your bento
  3. Upload a photo and description of your bento to the Google form here by Friday, July 9th, at 11:59 PM (PDT) [edit: the deadline has been revised to July 9th, disregard the deadline in the cover photo]
  4. If you can make it, log onto Zoom the day of the contest via the link emailed to you before the event, and bring a lunch or snack to eat during the social hour

How to come and watch the event:

  1. RSVP here
  2. Log onto Zoom the day of the contest via the link emailed to you before the event and bring a lunch or snack to eat during the social hour

Guidelines for Making Your Bento

Your bento should:

  1. Include a character, whether it be a well-known character, person, animal, emoji or a character of your own
  2. Incorporate the theme Regions of Japan either through your character, ingredients, or design
  3. Be presented in a bento box, shallow tupperware, or a dish that is similar in shape

This year’s theme is Regions of Japan, and the second most important criteria for your bento (after your character of course) is to create your design around the theme. You should choose one region or prefecture of Japan, and highlight something special from that region in your bento. You can choose anything that represents the region, such as mascots, scenery, landmarks, regional foods, agricultural products, etc, and incorporate it into your bento through either your character, ingredients, or design. Be prepared to describe how your interpretation relates to the theme in your paragraph description to the judges in the submission form.

Because of quarantine, we know that traditional Japanese ingredients may be hard to find right now and you may not have any on hand. For that reason, we want you to be as creative as you can, using whatever you have on hand to create cute, colorful, and beautiful bentos. Also, if you don’t have a bento box, you can use a shallow tupperware or a dish with a similar shape (having a 1 to 2 inch high lip).


Bentos will be judged on the basis of:

  1. Design (10 points)
  2. Creativity/use of materials (10 points)
  3. Relevance to theme (10 points)

1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners will be determined by our judges, and will receive great bento-related prizes and have their bentos featured on the JETAA websites.

In addition to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place there will be five crowd-favorite categories decided by all attendees. They are:

  • Cutest
  • Most oishisou
  • Most creative
  • Most likely to appear in a Japanese magazine
  • Best Japanese fusion

Crowd-favorite winners will win bragging rights and be recognized in a news special featured on the JETAA websites.

So go forth, put on your thinking caps, and make your bentos! We look forward to seeing your masterpieces and hearing all about the fun things and the challenges you encountered while creating your entry.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *