The tradition of the Bento box

While the Dutch are used to grabbing a cheese sandwich for lunch, the Japanese have a way more impressive way to present their lunch. The Bento box is a traditional Japanese lunch box with several compartments and sometimes different levels to separate the different bites.

Appetizing presentation
Because the Bento box contains a healthy and balanced lunch, it is ideal to take to work or to school. The box covers a complete lunch presented in the most appetizing way. Japanese mothers seem to compete with each other by filling the Bento box as originally and creatively as possible. A traditional Bento holds rice, fish or meat, with pickled or cooked vegetables. Yamazato offers the traditional Shokado Bento box, which contains ‘Hassun’ Japanese delicacies, ‘Tsukuri’ sliced raw fish, ‘Tempura’ deep-fried shrimps, fish and vegetables and ‘Shiizakana’ grilled fillet of beef with Wafu sauce. The Shokado box is served with Japanese rice, miso soup and a dessert.

Tradition of the Bento box
The Japanese have been using the Bento box for centuries. The origins of the Bento box can be traced back to the Kamakura period (1185-1333), which saw the development of hoshi-ii, which literally means ‘dried meal’. This consisted of dried rice carried in a small bag that had to be rehydrated with hot or cold water. Hoshi-ii was used by Japanese leaving their homes to hunt fish or work the fields. The Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1600) saw the introduction of lacquered wooden boxes, which were frequently used at tea parties and during hanami, the celebration of the cherry blossoms. During the prosperous Edo period (1603-1868), the boxes became more refined and were taken on excursions and to the theatre, filled with delicious treats. The Japanese prepare their Bento box at home, taking great care to get the mixture of different tastes and the presentation just right.