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Close-up: Japan's amazing lunchboxes

11 December 2011 Last updated at 01:08 GMT

Making a packed lunch for your children to take to school is a chore performed by parents around the world.

But in Japan, it is not just the taste and healthiness of the meal that is important - but how it looks.

The country's ancient emphasis on food presentation has been transformed into a trend for character bento - packed lunches made to look like pandas, teddy bears or even real people.

The BBC's Tokyo correspondent Roland Buerk has been finding out more.

The Close-up series focuses on aspects of life in countries and cities around the world. What may seem ordinary and familiar to the people who live there can be surprising to those who do not.