Kyarappa (bento cutter), nori punch, paper punch from an office supply store, tweezers, small scissors
Pack half the bento box with rice. If the box has a divider, use it. Keep the rice covered with plastic wrap while you work to prevent it from drying out. Put the meatballs in too.
Cut the nori seaweed about 1cm bigger than the rice all around. The reason why it should be cut so large is because the nori shrinks a lot.
Cut the top part into an arch shape.
Take the plastic wrap off and cover the rice with the cut nori sheet. It should shrink before your eyes. Cover with the plastic wrap again. If you're not going to finish the bento right away, put it in the refrigerator.
Make the parts. Cut 2 pieces out of the sliced cheese using the Kyarappa cutter as shown.
If you slice off the end and put them together, it will become Totoro's mouth. Make it very wide.
Cut out Totoro's eyes using the Kyarappa cutter as shown in the photo. Cut the two circles apart where they are connected.
Cut out two small circles to make the Soot Sprites' eyes.
Take the bento out of the refrigerator, and put the cut out parts on top. Tip: Place the eyes wide apart. Make the face long sideways! Don't use a long thin bento box.
Punch out two sets of face parts using a nori punch. Use the eyebrow parts on Totoro's chest, and the cheek parts as the Soot Sprite's eyes. Use tweezers to place the parts.
Here is how it looks with the nori parts in place. I used a regular paper punch from an office supply store for Totoro's eyes. I washed it well and use it for kitchen use only.
Use pre-cut fine shredded nori seaweed to portray the teeth. Don't worry about the top and bottom ends sticking out.
You can just cut off the ends later like this.
Stick on 5 strips for the teeth, then add the ears and nose. To make the nose, cut an edamame in half and stick it on with mayonnaise.
Cut the decorative dividers into ear shaped pieces, and fold them outwards. You can use old fashioned bamboo dividers, or any type you have.
Story Behind this Recipe
This is a bento for my son. I thought I'd try making it easily using specialized bento decorating gadgets.
If you don't have the bento decorating gadgets listed, you can cut the sliced cheese out using a toothpick and going around the outlines of the pieces. I left out the whiskers.