Bento boxes cool creation for library’s Otaku-Lebo club

Published Jan 29, 2013 at 12:01 am (Updated Jan 23, 2013 at 5:07 pm)

The Otaku-Lebo Japanese pop culture group at Mt. Lebanon Public Library recently made Bento boxes.

Bento, Japanese slang for “convenient,” is a single portion, boxed meal prepared in an entertaining fashion to encourage a pleasurable, healthy eating experience.

Japanese mothers and fans of Japanese culture (called “Otaku”) prepare children’s lunches with popular culture anime or other cartoon characters, animals and flowers. Not only is Bento artistic and culturally enriching, but the portioned sizes and representative foods (usually fruits, vegetables, bread, tofu, cheese, etc.) also provide healthier dietary choices and are a great way to use leftovers. Students enjoyed creating and eating their Bento box cuisine after being inspired by representations from the Internet and books from the library’s collection.

Each month the library’s Otaku-Lebo club for middle and high school students shares their love of anime (Japanese cartoons) and manga (Japanese graphic novels or comics) by watching movies and learning about Japanese culture and holidays. Participants also draw, play games and make crafts. Some of the activities they enjoy regularly include origami, bonsai, the Asian strategy game “Go” and both candy and felt sushi making.

The group meets after school on the second Thursday of each month during the school year, and all middle and high school-age students are invited. The next meeting will be a special celebration of the lunar New Year (the Year of the Snake) from 3:15-4:30 p.m. Feb. 14.

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