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With COVID-19 destroying all travel plans and Singapore school holidays here, we decided to look around for interesting activities for our kids. We wanted to do some staycation but was shocked that some hotels and attractions are rather fully booked due to the launch of SingaporeDiscover vouchers.

Luckily with technology like zoom, and google meet, tour companies has become very innovative to provide one-of-a-kind experience for children.

My daughter, R, loves travelling (we even did a virtual around the world themed party for her this year) and cooking. Being terrible parents, who cannot cook, we chanced upon Kyoto Tour Guide, Keiko on IG and we were elated that she offers a virtual Anime Character Bento Cookery Lesson.

Preparation for the Virtual Anime Character Bento Cookery Lesson

This Virtual Anime Character Bento Cookery Lesson is a true-blue 2-3 hours cooking lesson, which is what we wanted. Participants make a full bento from start to finish! (We had been to baking lessons at community centres in which the teacher did all the mixing, cutting, measuring, etc! We thought it defeat the purpose of a cooking lesson and could have been structured better to allow some independence and learning for the children.)

The drawback of a virtual lesson is that we have to prepare all the ingredients all by ourselves. Keiko guided us to ensure that all the amounts were right. For items which we cannot get or not sure about, we gave us alternative items to look for. (Actually, the sourcing of the ingredients can be a fun activity to do as a family!)

Being a fish out of water in the kitchen, and some ingredients sounded really foreign, we decided to get some help. Luckily, our daughter’s BFF’s mummy is a Japanese and we were all set for the virtual lessons.

All set for Anime Character Bento Cookery Lesson

All set for a authentic Japanese Home Cooking experience with Keiko, she gave the zoom link a few days before the big day and ensured that all the preparations were good.

Luckily, R was an expert on zoom and she knew how to toggle between screens so that we had the best view of the lesson. Keiko used 2 screens, one from the top view like a normal cookery lesson so the children could follow along easily.

Everything on the Bento were prepared from scratch! Some of the things children learned:

  • making heart and flowers using egg.
  • using sausages to make octopus and flower
  • constructing the eyes using cheese and seaweed
  • designing a forest

The whole virtual cookery lesson took about 3 hours; partly because we let the children do almost everything! If adults were to do it, they would probably take about 1.5 hours. We thought that the kids might get tired and give up half way. They didn’t. The girls enjoyed every bit of the cutting, mixing, cooking, decorating, and of course, eating. Even when they met with difficulties, they soldiered on and tried to make it work! Resilience was well-displayed by the kids.

The only thing we, as adults, took over in the cooking lesson, was anything with fire. I also understand from Keiko that she offers a simpler and shorter version, so it is easier and safer for younger children.

What we love about Japanese Home Cooking experience with Keiko

  • Authentic – Keiko is from Kyoto, Japan so this bento workshop is as Japanese as you can get.
  • Hands-on – I guess it being virtual, the teacher couldn’t help them! Our teaching style is letting kids be responsible for their own work and this virtual cookery lesson fit this criteria perfectly.
  • Patient – Virtual lessons may not be the easiest, having run virtual parties and events myself, I do understand the limitations. Keiko was very patient and guiding the girls every step of the way.
  • Structured – What we love about Japan is about the system. Keiko is very structured in her teaching and hence the children really learned a lot during this lesson.

Of course, if given a choice, we would love to be in Kyoto experiencing the cooking lessons live with Keiko and learning from her face-to-face. But with travel restriction, this Virtual Anime Character Bento Cookery Lesson works very well for now. To be able to enjoy the fruits of their labour is very sweet and fulfilling to the kids.

Profile of Keiko from Kyoto

Keiko is a member of Washocook , a cooking instructor community, and she also organise activities such as private tours in Kyoto and other Japanese cooking lessons too. Details of her cookery lessons can be found here and paypal is accepted.

You can contact Keiko via email at Urano-akam11171@kyoto.zaq.jp  or urano-akam11171@ezweb.ne.jp