OMGiri Disney Bento
Orange Bird Bento!!

I certainly don’t have to tell any of you that the internet is an amazing place. Sometimes you stumble across something that just makes you happy and amazed and inspired all at once. Recently, someone added me on Instagram and their little avatar stood out to me so I clicked on their profile. Adorableness ensued and I knew I had to share their creations with you!

OMGiri (a play on onigiri or Japanese rice balls) aka Mike has made some edible works of art that some may say look TOO good to eat. I have always been fascinated by this art, but my creative ways do not extend to food art, so I just watched in wonder as I saw bento box art gain popularity over the years. Seeing this combination of Disney characters and bento boxes, seemed like the perfect mix.

Mike was kind enough to share photos of his work here today, and also the interesting story of how he got started making Disney character bento boxes and some background on the art itself. I thought it was best to let Mike speak in his own words:

My interest in food art in general took root after a trip to Tokyo Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland. I was amazed by the adorable and creative food both resorts served. It was springtime and Tokyo Disney had sandwiches shaped like Donald Duck’s feet, melon buns shaped like Mike Wazowski, and sweet mochi chicks in Mickey egg cups. At Hong Kong Disneyland we ate at the Crystal Lotus, which is home to the most amazing character-shaped dining experience. They offer dim sum shaped like characters, including the Three Little Pigs, Chicken Little, Duffy the Bear, and the Little Green Men from Toy Story.

While in Japan I bought a couple bento boxes to motivate me to take my lunch to work. I had a bad habit of eating out of the vending machine, or worse, skipping lunch all together. A while later, I found a bento instruction book at a Japanese book store which contained a Stitch bento. I ended up buying the book and decided to try making a bento.

The first bento I ever tried to make was a Oswald. It was fun to make the bento, but what really got me hooked was how fun it was to have the character bento for lunch. In the beginning I just made whatever came to mind. I’d make all sorts of characters. I’d share them around our offices and on Facebook. Eventually I found other bento makers, or as I call them “bento boxers”, on Instagram and really started becoming part of a community. Over time my interest in Disney took over and now I find myself doing all Disney characters. The character bentos are also referred to as kyaraben or charaben. Funny, but I have made only one item out of the bento instruction book so far. And it wasn’t even the Stitch bento!

Disney Bento
Serious Maximus

While in Japan we also became obsessed with onigiri. Onigiri are normally triangle or round “rice ball” filled with fish or pickled ginger. They sell them in convenience stores like they sell sandwiches in the US. We ended up eating onigiri almost everyday for a quick snack on the go. The characters in my bentos are onigiri. They are balled up rice with a filling. I’ve changed it up a bit, avoiding raw fish. Instead I fill them with cooked tuna or salmon mixed with a little mayo and spice. My favorite filling is a crab and cream cheese. I also use leftovers for filling. Left over curries make perfect filling!>What I found was that I really needed a creative outlet in my life. I work in an IT office, which just wasn’t fulfilling  my creative side. Bentos are giving me a chance to activate my creative side before I go into the office each morning. Plus, it helps with my insatiable need for Disney in my life!

I am horrible at planning, so most of my bentos start with me looking up a picture of the character online. I normally start from a photo or two of the character. Then I just sort of play around. Some bento boxers sketch out their bentos ahead, but I truly just make it up as I go along.

As far as ideas, I like to work around themes. In the past I’ve done tied theme weeks to upcoming holidays, new movie releases, Star Wars May the 4th celebrations, and Disney events. Sometimes the idea comes from a post I saw the previous day. I also am really inspired by Disney artists like Jerrod Maruyama. I’ve made quite a few bentos based on his cute take on Disney characters. I love finding older Disney characters and forgotten friends, like Humphrey the Bear. I’m also lucky that Disney now includes Marvel and Star Wars, which opens up so many more characters for me to do. I’ve been a little neglectful of Pixar, but I hope to remedy that this summer. Lately, I started a series based on the Walt Disney Studios Animated release catalog I’ve dubbed “Movie Monday“. A friend and I have started watching all the films in the order of their original release. I will be doing a bento for each film. I also take requests. It a lot of fun to have someone request a character.

My favorites to make are always the characters with a lot of expression. I enjoy making fun facial expressions, like Olaf grabbing at his tiny carrot nose or the serious, disgruntled Maximus. The expressions tend to be extremely challenging, but when it works out they are the most interesting to look at. Villains are also a joy to do, because they have such interesting designs. And of course, any of the ones that are just super cute I love to do. If I had to pick my favorites to make, I loved creating Humphrey the Bear, DisNerd Minnie, Jafar, and the AquaDuck Donald the most.

I really enjoyed reading Mike’s story – and it’s even better to know that he’s making these all for his own lunch, that’s pretty amazing. I wonder if Mike would make a Figment bento box for me? {oops, looks like he’s already made Figment…well maybe he can add a Zanna toon to the mix hahaha 😉 } I love the detail, and the fact that he reaches beyond the most well-known characters to feature Panchito, Orange Bird, and even Humprey the Bear (my favorites along with AquaDuck Donald too!)

Here are some of his masterpieces – Click to enlarge – all photos ©OMGiri, used with permission:

You can find more of these wonderful edible creations at OMGiri’s Instagram and Facebook page. Stop by and let him know Zannaland sent you!

Think you’ll try your hand at these for your lunch?