What is a bento?

A bento is a lunchbox or tiffin box that is uniquely Japanese. It typically consists of a container with multiple compartments for different kinds of food such as rice, vegetables, meat, sauces, etc. A true bento has food that is home-cooked and most importantly, attractively presented.

Bento is thought to have first become popular during the Edo Period (1600-1867). Elaborately decorated lacquer food containers were brought to the theatre and other leisure outings such as picnics. In fact, bento became a symbol of wealth and status.

Gradually, bento boxes came to be regarded as expressions of a mother’s love for her child. In the 2000s, it turned into a fierce mommy contest with the appearance of ‘character bento’ known as chara-ben- lunches made to look like pandas, teddy bears or even real people! A whole industry sprang up to churn out cute containers, food picks and other food tools to facilitate the making of chara-ben.

Today, there is enormous pressure even on working mothers, to send kids to school with beautiful bento. Celebrities known as ‘mama talent’ have hundreds of thousands of followers who share their bento on social media.

Picture Credit : Google