Japanese bento: an excuse to play with your food


I recently came across Japanese bento photography on Flickr and became intrigued with the intricacies of this cultural tradition. First, what is bento? In a nutshell it’s a combination of food items tucked into a container. The bento can be fairly simple or it can be an elaborate work of art. Wikipedia describes it in more detail:

A single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container. Containers range from disposable mass produced to hand crafted lacquerware. Although bento are readily available in many places throughout Japan, including convenience stores, bento shops (弁当屋, bentō-ya?), train stations, and department stores, it is still common for Japanese homemakers to spend time and energy for their spouse, child, or themselves producing a carefully prepared lunch box.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from Flickr:

Geese bento, photo by kitsa_sakurako via Flickr

Cute animals, photo by soulstruck via Flickr

Halloween bento

Halloween, photo by pkoceres via Flickr

Sandwich bento

Sandwich man, photo by kitsa_sakurako via Flickr

Preschooler bento

Sesame street, photo by cuteobento via Flickr

Preschooler bento

Elmo and friends, photo by lovebones via Flickr

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5 Responses to “Japanese bento: an excuse to play with your food”


  1. 1 suzanneme March 12, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Those are very cute and creative. I almost feel bad when I eat food that has been displayed so nicely.

  2. 2 Refined Designer March 12, 2010 at 11:26 am

    @susanneme I know, same here! I do know I don’t have the patience to make things that intricate only to see them disappear.

  3. 3 suzanneme March 12, 2010 at 11:56 am

    I agree with you. I would at least take tons of picture to prove what I did!

  4. 4 torissecret March 17, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    i love the cute animals! no joke, in Korea, they have little devices/kits that you can use to make faces to put on rice like that. they’re like hole punches.. for seaweed.

  5. 5 Refined Designer March 18, 2010 at 5:44 am

    Wooah… it’s like scrapbooking, but with food.


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