Monday, June 6, 2011

Bento Boxes: An exquisite choice when you visit Japan

In my time living and studying in Japan, I heard many opinions from different foreigners around the world. It is strange but interesting to discover that women immediately fall in love with Japanese food. I did!!!!!
The reason is simple…..Since Japanese food is healthy, it helps you to lose weight and to look great. In the other hand, it is common to hear cry baby university students who always complain missing their mothers’ food. Nevertheless, there is a male minority, who has a unique taste, that likes Japanese food taste.
Let me tell you that there is a great option for foreigners who don’t know what to eat in Japan. This option is ………………..bento boxes!!!!
It is so convenient and easy to find them everywhere in Japan  for a very reasonable price. They are around ¥300 and ¥1200 (that would be $2 and $10).
When you buy a bento box, you can have many types of food arranged in a perfect and singular way. I said once that Japanese food is too beautiful to be eaten…….
Now I will explain you what a bento box is and the varieties you can find. I hope you like them.

What is bento?

Bento (written 弁当), or obento (お弁当) to use the honorific term, is the Japanese word for a meal served in a box. Beyond that basic definition though, just about anything goes as to what kind of box or container is used, as well as what is put inside that box. Bento, or o-bento, refers to a packaged, single-portion, portable meal that is usually eaten at lunch, but also comes in larger sizes meant for use at picnics, dinner, and parties. A bento generally consists of rice or noodles and some form of protein (e.g., meat, poultry, fish, tofu) accompanied by side dishes of raw, simmered, or pickled vegetables. There are many different types of bento boxes, ranging from traditional handcrafted wooden lacquerware to disposable containers. Most bento boxes have compartments or internal dividers for separate dishes.
Bento is an art form in Japan. Japanese women spend a good part of their mornings preparing bento for their families – there is even a sense of competition among mothers to see who can produce the cutest, appetizing, and healthy lunch for their children. Modern Japanese culture virtually revolves around compact cuteness. The variety of designer bento boxes, food liners, wiener and cookie cutters, egg molds, food picks, and other bento-ware used to create these mini-masterpieces is amazing and overwhelming.

Different types of bento

There are several different kinds of bento, with different purposes.

1.   Makunouchi bento are elaborate bento meals presented at formal meals, meant to be eaten at table. This is the type you will see served in restaurants, arranged in elegant lacquered boxes. Kouraku bento are picnic bento, to be shared by a group of people enjoying themselves outdoors - the most popular settings is while enjoying the cherry blossoms in spring (hanami).

2.   Ekiben (a shortened form of eki bento) are boxed meals sold at train stations for travellers (though nowadays you can buy ekiben at many other places, such as department store food halls or convenience stores).

This is a place that sells bento boxes in a station. It is a very common view in Japan.

This is the way bento boxes are arranged for people to choose their gavorite. there are bento boxes with different kinds of meat. You choose the kind you like....and there are vegetarian bento boxes as well.

For the ones who love to travel and visit all the beautiful places in Japan, don't worry about eating or spending so much muney in restaurants.....You can have a bento box anywhere........

3.   The kind of bento that have garnered the most attention recently, especially outside of Japan are what are called kyaraben or charaben, ‘cute bento’ ‘art bento’ or ‘entertaining bento’ (entertain-bento), extremely elaborately decorated small works of art, as exemplified by the work presented on sites like e-obento (Japanese). These are usually made by mothers for their small children. There can be a high level of competitiveness in this arena - there are tons of contests and such that feature these bentos.

4.   Finally, there’s the plain simple bento that most people bring to work or school for lunch. It’s important to note that most Japanese people do not spend their time making elaborate charaben or ‘cute bento’ - that’s more in the realm of a hobby and craft rather than practical everyday living. The type of bento that JustBento concentrates on for the most part are practical, tasty, healthy everyday bento lunches.


    If you are interested in preparing a bento box for your kids, you can do it in a simple way and give them the surprise. In this way, you can make them forget the junk food, and have a more balanced diet with vegetables. Watch the following video. It is great!!!!!!

     I hope you understand now why I love bento boxes so much. Here I leave you more pictures to show you once again the beauty, creativity, convenience, and good flavor of bento boxes. Itadakimasu!!!!!!!


  1. Hi! I just discovered your blog and I love it! It's so interesting (even though I have to admit that I've already forgotten most of the japanese words :P)
    Unfortunately, I've only eaten some japanese food from the supermarket... I love it but I never got the chance to eat it freshly made or to go to Japan. One thing is for sure: I wouldn't be able to eat the cute bentos, they're way too beautiful to be eaten ^^. But the common bento looks very tasty as well and I definitely wouldn't leave a bit of it :P
    (Sorry if there are mistakes, English isn't my native language)

    1. Your English is great. I hope you can experience eating these bento boxes someday. I know they look too beautiful to be eaten, but they really taste great. Thanks for your comment. I really love it.