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bento #16: Sleeping Totoro

December 13, 2008

in bento,studio ghibli

After my Katamari bento and Super Smash Bros. Brawl bento, some video game sites put the pictures of my bento on their sites. Even though I’m making bento for my boyfriend, any compliments are always encouraging. :)

So, I gathered my courage to revisit “bento #1: Totoro made out of rice”, which was my very first and the most embarrassing kyaraben I’ve ever made. It wouldn’t be interesting if I just made Totoro standing like in the first bento, so I tried to come up with a similar composition, and I remembered the scene where Mei meets Totoro for the first time.

Mei chases the mini-Totoro into Totoro’s Forest, climbs a big tree, and falls into the hole in the tree. She lands on a big fluffy rock. The rock moves and reveals its face.

Mei: Who are you? Makkurokurosuke?
Totoro: To-Ro-Ro…
Mei: Totoro… Your name is Totoro, right?
And Totoro opens his big mouth to yawn. When he yawns, you can see his teeth, tongue, throat and everything! This is one of my favorite scenes from Totoro.

Bento #16: Sleeping Totoro
Created and eaten on: 10/24/2008

For the first Totoro, I mixed bonito flakes and soysauce with rice, but the color was spotty. So I used konnyaku (gray yam cake) for bento #10: the path to Totoro Forest bento. But konnyaku was really slippery and hard to work with. (besides, it was too 2-D for me)

I decided to try mixing black sesame seed in the rice this time. I put ground black sesame seeds in a sesame seed grinder, and mixed in the rice with a bit of salt. (They sell this in a furikake form too) I adjusted the color of the rice by adding more black sesame seeds. I thought it’d be hard to mix sesame seeds and rice evenly, the result was a lot better than I expected!

Next, I put the rice (mixed with black sesame seed) on plastic wrap on the table, and shaped it like Totoro. Then I took a little bit of plain rice and spread it thin on the plastic wrap, and shaped it for Totoro’s stomach. I put the plain rice sheet on top of Totoro’s body, and Totoro’s body was complete.

I made mini-Totoros out of quail eggs (see “how to make mini-Totoro”), and I used leftover meatballs for Makkurokurosuke. For their I used a bottle cap to cut out kamaboko (fish cake), and put cut seaweed on it to make the sleeping eyes. I made flowers (see “how to make a sunflower”) with sausage and egg, mushrooms with cherry tomato and baby carrots, and wrapped asparagus with ham for the tree stumps.

After I made all the parts for the bento, I put lettuce leaves in the bento box, laid sauteed renkon (lotus root) on it, and started filling the bento. Then I realized that I could only put two meatballs in the bento! I knew that’s not enough for my boyfriend, so I started thinking of what I was going to do… Then I thought “Maybe I could hide more meatballs inside Totoro…”

I peeled off the plain rice sheet from Totoro’s stomach, scooped some rice out, put 2 more meatballs inside, and covered it with the rice sheet. It was totally a last minute thing, but to my surprise, it was just perfect!

Once I filled the bento with the food, I started working on Totoro’s face. I scooped some rice around his mouth, then put a small piece of plastic wrap over it, and shaped the inside of the mouth. Then I cut ham to fit inside Totoro’s mouth and put it in. (I cut a big piece first, then trimmed it down.) For his uvula, I cut seaweed into a circle and cut out a key hole-like shape using scissors and a hole puncher. (I didn’t exactly make an uvula, but I made the shade of an uvula)

For his teeth, I cut two thin slices of kamaboko, and cut out tiny triangle shape incisions between each tooth. I made a slit on the inside of both the upper and lower mouth using a toothpick, and pushed the kamaboko teeth in. I cut out seaweed for his eyes and nose, put them on cheese, and cut around them to reinforce the seaweed. To finish the bento I cut seaweed for the marks on Totoro’s stomach, and his whiskers.

I really liked how his mouth came out, but overall I think this was one of most balanced (color-wise/nutrition-wise) kyaraben I’ve made. I still remember my boyfriend’s reaction when he saw this bento. It wasn’t just “Awwww”, but it was “Ooh!” and “HAHAHA!” and “Awwww” all mixed together. Yep, the best kind of reaction. And that’s why I make bento.

Totoro:
- rice mixed with ground black sesame seed & salt for his body)
- seaweed on cheese for his eyes and nose
- ham for inside his mouth
- kamaboko (fish cake) for teeth

Mini-Totoro:
- quail eggs with seaweed

Makkurokurosuke:
- meatballs, kamaboko and seaweed for its eyes

Flower:
- sausage and egg (see this page for how to make this flower)

Mushroom:
- cherry tomato and baby carrot

Other food:
- lettuce
- renkon (lotus root)

Not necessary a tip, but things I realized while making this bento…
- When you shape rice, cover the rice with plastic wrap and shape it. This way, you can shape the rice anyway you want without getting rice all over your hands.
- It’s easier to mix black sesame seed (or anything!) with hot rice. If the rice is cold, just heat it up in a microwave.

For more pictures of my bento, visit Bento! set and Bento details! set on my flickr page.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

nicoleNo Gravatar December 14, 2008 at 2:31 am

you are so talented and dedicated! you are an inspiration to me, to not only enjoy the food i eat and share with others, but to also enjoy the process itself. thank you <3

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CheriNo Gravatar December 14, 2008 at 5:56 pm

Wow, these bentos are awesome! I love the flowers in this one, thank you for sharing!

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catchan1980No Gravatar December 16, 2008 at 2:01 am

very beautiful!!

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mahjladyNo Gravatar December 17, 2008 at 11:20 am

oh my god this is so awesome. i am a huge fan of totoro and all of Miyosaki-san’s movies. thank you!

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VickyNo Gravatar December 17, 2008 at 7:27 pm

I LOVE THIS SO MUCH!! I am in awe of your talent. I saw the flickr gallery with all your past work *___*

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ssstephgNo Gravatar January 2, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Adorable!!! and so impressive!

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Timur IzhbulatovNo Gravatar January 4, 2009 at 2:21 am

Wow! Magic! =D

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SpecialKNo Gravatar January 7, 2009 at 1:26 am

So sad that Mei didn’t get put into this! Mei and Satsuki are like my little sister and I and I showed her this and she LOOOOVED it! I know you don’t like human characters, but I hope you make one of them sometime! ^___^

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PhilippeNo Gravatar February 14, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Wonderful ! Inspired by your achievement, I did my own version for my wife (a great Totoro’s fan ;-) on Valentine’s Day. You can see the results on Flickr . I did not have fishcake for the teeth – replaced it with cheese. Notice also the sunflower seeds for the claws ;-)

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chubby chinese girlNo Gravatar February 22, 2010 at 10:29 am

hahahaha absolutely LOVE your totoro bentos!!! sooooo cute! =) keep up the good work

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MsChoyNo Gravatar October 28, 2011 at 3:20 pm

this is super duper cute!! i love totoro. even my wedding’s theme was totoro :) thanks for sharing those wonderful ideas of making totoro bentos :)

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