Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Papaben AKA Takupapa Interview

This image © DETACH.

The above image was one taken during my lunch with Papaben (aka Takupapa) and his son, Takkun - two of the cooler bento wiz's featured in Face Food. (As you can see above, I'm being presented with my Mario w/ raccoon tail bento, an image taken from the box of Nintendo's Super Mario Brothers 3... how freakin' cool is that!?) Active on the Tokyo bento blog circuit, Papaben approaches his charaben designs with a cool air of worldly confidence and just a pinch of dry wit. See further examples in the book... for now, here's some nuggets from my interview:

Since when and why did you start making Charaben? How often?

Since April 2006. My wife was hospitalized for some time, so I started making obento in place of her. About four times a week.

Who do you make Charaben for? How is his/her response?
I make them for my son in kindergarten now. He used to love anything I make, but now he is happy only when I make a character that he likes. He seems to have had enough.

This image © PAPABEN.

On average, how much time and money do you spend on making one Charaben?
Varies, from 30 minutes to 4 hours. About 200 yen.

Describe a typical Charaben-making day’s schedule.
The day before I come home at 12AM and spend 1-3 hours preparing the character. I wake up at 8 and make the obento in 30 minutes. I photoshoot for 5 minutes and give the Charaben to my son who leaves home at 8:50.

How do you choose which character to make? Which character is your favorite?
I choose characters that my son knows. The easiest characters to make are the characters with big parts and less lines.

This image © PAPABEN.

What is the most difficult/challenging thing when making Charaben?
The biggest challenge is choosing the character. I am careful about nutritional balance and visual color coordination.

What do you think draws people to Charaben?
Seeing children smile!

List the following three in the order of importance: nutrition, taste, and visual.
Nutrition, visual, taste.

What is the moment that makes you love/hate Charaben?
I love Charaben when I see my child with a big smile on his face.
I hate choosing the character to make the night before.

This image © PAPABEN.

What is Charaben to you?
Charaben is a collection of precious times I spent with my son. Each and every Charaben has an episode, and I hope they will become good memories when he grows up.

1 comment:

julie said...

what the..??? wow. WOW. so fascinating. strangely touching. thank you for the great interview. i'm a bento making mom, and i have always been fascinated in the drive behind the over the top bentos. how did this happen? i hang out at kinokuniya, looking at all the bento cookbooks, but can't read japanese! so, i'm so thankful for your book which I haven't bought but will! i'd love to review it on my blog. i wish you much success! may bentos take over the world!