This weekend I received a copy of Face Food - The visual Creativity of Japanese Bento Boxes by Christopher D Salyers from my cousin (Thanks Sarah!). I had heard a lot about this book, but had never actually seen a copy. The format of the book is a simple picture book with pics of some of the most creative charaben (Character Bento Boxes) that I have ever seen. I was pleased to see that many of the contributors are regulars on the Flickr Bento Boxes photo pool. The book also includes interviews with the artists and a how-to section. The answers to one question in particular floored me. "How much time do you spend creating bentos?" (paraphrased). The artists featured in this book spend hours creating charaben each morning. Although I understand that creating bentos is like any art in that it can relieve stress, you enjoy the process, and you often become so immersed in it, that time slips away, I am amazed because I couldn't imagine waking up that early! My bentos are always made the night before, and it is often in conjunction with cooking dinner.
Overall I highly recommend this book. I have already read it cover-to-cover twice, and can be seen randomly picking it up for a quick glance as I walk by about every hour of the day. I do have a small criticism though. I would love a much larger book (in size and number of pages), with large glossy photos and maybe photos of the artists in their kitchen, or in the midst of creating or eating their bentos. Maybe that will be Face Food 2.