When I look back on my childhood, one of my fondest memories is eating the bento, or Japanese-style lunch, my mom used to make for me for school, always filled with my favorite goodies. She spent quite some time every morning making them for me, but not nearly as much time as these modern moms in Japan are. The moms these days are spending so much time making elaborate bento lunches for their kids, it's actually causing some problems for the schools and kids themselves.

The competition among young mothers in Japan when making charabens, or character bentos, is getting out of control. Bento art has recently become a trend in Japan, with government-sanctioned competitions being held and Prime Minister Abe and his wife even participating as judges. It was all fun and games until mothers started to use their kids' character bento lunches to not only to please their kids, but also as a way to show each other up. By sending their own kids to school with the most elaborate, decorative and creative character bentos, their kids receive attention from the other kids, and that at first may sound like a good thing. It also makes mama proud, knowing she's bested the other moms, and this is where it's recently become somewhat of a problem. The hyper-competitive mamas have been making the homemade lunches more and more elaborate so that they can claim the status of best charaben maker, with some spending as much as their monthly rent on these crazy lunches for their kids. Unfortunately, for those kids whose mamas are just too busy, too tired, or not able to afford making charabens every day, lunchtime becomes not so fun.

In extreme cases, kids with normal lunches are apparently getting bullied by kids who have the "special" lunches. "Look at your boring lunch! Loser!" Suddenly, the bento lunch mama made no longer seems so delicious.

Because of this consequence of mamas trying too hard to impress with their lunch-making efforts, some kindergartens and elementary schools have banned charabens so kids don't have to be ostracized, or even bullied, just for having regular bento lunches.

I really don't know what to say about schools banning certain homemade lunches and whatnot, but... just look at the photos below of these amazing homemade lunches !

Hello Kitty bento

Sausage love bear bento

Totoro bento

What happens when six young strangers move into a mysterious boarding house? Watch Boarding House No. 24 to find out

Two Pandas bento

Dragon Ball bento

Mickey and Minnie umeboshi (sour plum) love bento

Snow White bento