Taiken Japan

Autumn Leaves 2016

The Art of the Bento

Photo: Robin Zebrowski on Flickr

The Art of the Bento

Sanny Soedjatmiko Hartanto

Maybe all of you known about bento! Bento is a takeout or home packed meal, and is usually made for single portion. Bento is really famous not only among Japanese but also among foreigners too. You can find bento at any convenience stores in Japan. You can find it also at railway stations, department shops, and etc. Let’s learn more about bento!


Photo : Mokiko on Flickr
The origin of bento was from Kamakura Period (1185 to 1333). In Azuchi-Momoyama Period, Japanese people made a bento and eat it during hanami or tea party. This kind of culture became more famous in Edo Period. During that time, people would carry a simple “Koshibento” (“waist bento” in Japanese). The first bento during this time was called “Makuno uchi bento”! “Maku” means act in Kabuki, while “no uchi” means between. So, it literally means bento between actions in Kabuki (Japanese drama)! In Edo Period, so many books of how to make bento were published. Nowadays, bento became so popular that Japanese businessmen often bring it to their work place.

Different Types

Photo : gamene on Flickr
Let’s learn about the types of bento!
1. Makuno uchi bento (bento of rice, pickled plum, broiled salmon, rolled egg, etc.)
2. Nori bento (bento of rice with nori dipped in soy sauce)
3. Sake bento (bento of rice with broiled salmon)
4. Tori bento (bento of rice with fried chicken in sauce)
5. Chuka bento (bento of rice with Chinese food)
6. Kamameshi bento, and etc.
My favorite one is the nori bento, and sake bento. It is quite simple and delicious!

Art of Bento

Photo : gamene on Flickr
Surprisingly, making a bento became something of an art in Japan, nowadays. It became so popular among Japanese people to make actual pictures with bento. This kind of trend started with Moms who wanted to make their bento more appealing and cuter to kids. Because of this, there is “Kyara bento”, “Kyara” means character in Japan. Japanese people also become more creative to make such as these kind of bento. Not only that, to make this Kyara bento, it also takes enough time. Don’t you think some of their children could not eat it because of it is too cute? Sometimes, I think like that. Too cute to be eaten!


Photo : Mokiko on Flickr

At Last

Photo : Mokiko on Flickr

Bento is really convenient right? Some of them can turn into art too. Isn’t it interesting? You can also prepare your own bento to take to your work place. First of all, you should prepare a box. You can buy it from 100 yen shop too. Japanese people always make a bento with the 4:3:2:1 ratio. It means 4 parts of rice, 3 parts of side dish, 2 parts of vegetables, and 1 part of pickled things. Pick your own favorite food! After you make it, pack them tightly into the box and done! For making Kyara bento, you must think about the color, and the position of them. It depends on your creativity! Have fun with bento! Not to forget, before you eat your bento, say “Itadakimasu”!