ttkk kaori blog, iyagarase bento harassment, kyaraben charaben

A decade ago, when blogger and single mom Kaori used to work nights at an izakaya (Japanese-style pub) and didn’t have time to spend with her two little girls, they would leave letters by her pillow, telling her about a fight they had with a friend or how school was that day. Fast forward a few years, though, and her cute younger daughter became your regular moody, demanding teenager.

So what did this amusing mom decide to do? Kaori chose to annoy her second-born every day with something she hates: character bento! See mom yearn for a Starbucks, remind her girl to throw out empty bottles, and moan about making bento while hung over—all with the help of an X-Acto knife, some nori seaweed, and dollops of ingenuity.

While it’s impossible to showcase the entirety of her achievements in one article, here’s a “highlights version” that ultimately reveals a heartwarming tale of a hardworking mom trying to communicate with her adorable yet exasperating teen. And if you don’t care about that, then just gawk at the awesome photos!

As a minor yet persistent (and still loving) method of playfully pestering her cheeky, rebellious teen, Kaori resolved to make charaben (or kyaraben) for the whole of her daughter’s high school life, dubbing it “harassment bento”. While I would love to be greeted by such playful meals come lunchtime, apparently her child can’t stand them; perhaps they’re too embarrassing for a 16-year-old?

▼ June 26, 2014: Totoro writes in ink, “On foot.”
Kaori: She goes for long walks at night but hates walking to and from school and always asks for a ride. What about our agreement?!”

totoro bento, toho, on foot, calligraphy, walk

▼ Sept. 19, 2014: This time an ostrich squawks mockingly, “Walk!
Kaori: “I told her I couldn’t drive her today, but she still said ‘Drive me!’ because it’s raining. She texted me that her friend laughed at this bento; serves her right!”

Ostrich character bento, walk! ttkk blog

▼ Sept. 20, 2014: The kanji for “curse,” a creepy Sadako-esque figure, and fingers clawing its way out from between fried eggs, reminiscent of the shrimp hands in Beetlejuice.
Kaori: “When I said that it’s her own fault for getting laughed at, she texted me, ‘As if. I’m not walking.’ So I’m cursing her!”

curse bento, charaben, kyaraben, Sadako The Ring

▼ June 13, 2014: Jason Voorhees happily sings, “My turn!” for a Friday the 13th bento, while in the bottom tier the Scream guy sighs, “Lucky…”.
(My heart might skip a beat if I opened the lid and saw this.)

friday the 13th bento, charaben, kyaraben, Jason, Scream

▼ June 27, 2012, two years before: A similarly freaky Mickey and Minnie. Maybe mom has yet to master the art of making characters at this point.

ttkk blog charaben, kyaraben, freaky scary mickey and minnie

▼ Oct. 31, 2012: The fingers are still here, but a surprisingly cute Halloween bento with jack-o’-tomatoes, a sausage mummy, and the ghost of a quail egg. Nice font!

halloween character bento, charaben, kyaraben,

▼ Nov. 5, 2012: A special birthday message with a cute bear holding a cake (and a creepy face).
Kaori: “Happy 16th birthday! To me you’ll always be six years old…” Aww, but are you losing your edge?

▼ Nov. 17, 2014: Now this is a bit more like “harassment bento.”
Kaori: “Because she always leaves empty water bottles around, I made her a ‘Trash in trash receptacle’ bento.” The egg says, “Throw it out.”

character bento, charaben, kyaraben, trash in trash bin, throw it out

▼ Nov. 22, 2012: An angry mom in an apron packs heart-shaped eggs but scolds, “Leave your bento box out!
Kaori: “Woke up late and was in a rush, but couldn’t find her lunch box to wash. This irritates me the most! Her friends get a kick out of these types, so I’m excited for lunchtime ;)”

character bento, charaben, kyaraben, warning, leave your bento lunch box out

▼ June 9, 2014: Kaonashi (No-Face) from Spirited Away says “Pay the fine” for not leaving out her bento box. I say forget the 500 yen and let your daughter wash it.

character bento, charaben, kyaraben, warning, pay the fine, Kaonashi

▼ July 1, 2014: Mona Lisa’s smile apparently means, “Do some studying.”

character bento, charaben, kyaraben, warning, mona lisa, study

▼ Dec. 4, 2012: “Two days before… TEST.”
Kaori: “She doesn’t seem to realize it. I hope this revs her up…”
Wouldn’t you have a hard time getting this grim reminder down your throat?

character bento, charaben, kyaraben, warning, two days before test

▼ Oct. 21, 2014. Kaori: “Midterms start! I wanted to give her energy with this, but it was a cooking lesson in Home Ec class and she didn’t need lunch. I woke up early for this! T_T”

character bento, charaben, kyaraben, test, monster energy drink

As you can imagine, the mom often writes about how tough it is for her to get up at 5am and decide on the day’s character. She seems grateful for October in that regard, because she can recycle Halloween themes for the entire month:

▼ Oct. 27, 2014: A smiling Jack Skellington reports, “Hung over.”
Kaori: “It’s Monday… I know I shouldn’t drink before another bento week starts but… I’ll give her bread instead of making rice today.”

character bento, charaben, kyaraben, hung over, hangover, jack skellington

Once in a while Kaori even thinks about quitting, though she vowed that she wouldn’t until her daughter either started to actually enjoy the kyaraben or stopped being so impudent. The next two lunches are a testament to her dedication!

▼ June 7, 2014: Genie from Disney’s Aladdin wails, “But it’s Saturday…
Kaori: “She had to go to school today because of sports festival preparations. Give me back my weekend!”

character bento, charaben, kyaraben, message, but it's saturday, Genie, Disney Aladdin

▼ Mar. 14, 2013: “I won’t stop the kyaraben!!
Kaori: “When I forgot and gave her normal rice balls for lunch yesterday, she seemed to smile. So I made her this!”

character bento, charaben, kyaraben, message, mom, won't stop

Of course, we don’t want to give readers the wrong idea; her blog is peppered with cute anecdotes that reveal a household filled with love and humor. For example, when mom had to take over her elder daughter’s shift and work late, she asked for a Hawaiian dinner and her younger one responded by cooking her loco moco and poke:

▼ Dec. 10, 2014: “I want a 7-Eleven!
Kaori: “Got home at 10pm; she made what I had asked for and even waited to eat with me! It was payday so I’ll buy her lots of her favorite snack: ice cream! If we only had a convenience store on Hachijōjima, then I could get her ice cream whenever, or sake for me, lol.”

character bento, charaben, kyaraben, message, mom, I want a conbini, convenience store, 7-eleven

▼ Nov. 20, 2014: While we’re on the topic, a “Wish we had a Starbucks…” bento. Not sure if sausage Santa has that kind of power.

character bento, charaben, kyaraben, message, mom, I want a Starbucks, wish, santa, christmas

▼ Jan. 20, 2014: Another plea. “Buy me M&Ms.” Come on, daughter, that’s an easy one!

character bento, charaben, kyaraben, message, mom, buy me M&Ms, candy, chocolate

▼ Nov. 14, 2012: They made an appearance even back then.
Kaori: “Why M&Ms? Because I like them and they were right in front of me. It’s hard coming up with characters every day!”

character bento, charaben, kyaraben, mom, M&Ms, getting eaten, candy, chocolate

Good job, Kaori! Most of us know what it’s like to be a mopey, defiant, know-it-all teenager, so let’s hope that deep down, this daughter appreciates her mother’s titanic efforts even if she can’t be vocal about it. Like the letters she wrote all those years ago that still move mom to tears, we can safely assume that this collection of photos will become an irreplaceable memento for her, one that’s packed with good eats and love.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article, in which we’ll share more of this blogger’s creations and information on her book, as well as her “Countdown to Graduation” lunches; get ready for some moving words and motherly advice as her daughter wraps up her high school days!

Sources: ttkk no Iyagarase no Tame Dake no Obento Blog via Grape
Images: ttkk no Iyagarase no Tame Dake no Obento Blog