Sprinkle on your choice of furikake or mix in any kind of filling to the cooked rice and let it cool.
Put rice on plastic wrap to make the following rice balls: 6 round-shaped (for Makkuro Kurosuke), 1 oval-shaped (for Totoro's body), and 2 small triangle-shaped (for Totoro's ears) rice balls.
Cut the nori seaweed to match each size of the rice balls and wrap each of them with the cut out pieces of nori seaweed.
Cut out the sliced cheese to make Totoro's belly, mouth, eyes, and Makkuro Kurosuke's eyes (I used this Anpanman cutter's cheek to punch out Totoro's eyes and used its eye to punch out Totoro's nose).
Make the pattern on Totoro's belly by cutting out nori seaweed and sticking it onto the cheese cut out for Totoro's belly (making the pattern was too much work for me, so I cut the nori seaweed into just triangles).
Once the rice balls cools down, stick on the features made out of cheese.
To make the pupils, poke out the cheese using a straw (you could make Totoro's nose out of the punched out cheese).
Pack lettuce leaves on the bottom of the bento box, and put the rice balls on top (secure Totoro's ears on its body with pieces of raw pasta).
Pack your choice of side dishes, such as omelette or karaage (fried chicken) around the rice balls and it's done.
I made this "Smiling Totoro with Catbus " version bento for a field trip.
I made this for a preschool sports festival.
Story Behind this Recipe
Children of all ages love Totoro. My daughters too have loved Totoro ever since watching it. So, I put time and effort into creating this charaben for sports festival day.
I've also uploaded an easy charaben recipe for Catbus (a character from Totoro) (Recipe ID: 2225222). Please check it out too.
If you wrap the rice balls wrapped up with nori seaweed with plastic wrap, the seaweed will fit more smoothly around the rice balls.
If you pack cherry tomatoes or broccoli florets into the bento, the bento will be more colorful and it might bring more of a forest-like feeling to the bento....
All there's left to do, is to pack your choice of side dishes.