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Bento Boxes draw their inspiration from the multi-compartment containers popular in Japan.
Why do we use bento boxes to store and transport our food? There are many benefits to bento boxes such as, reducing our environmental impact, saving money and eating healthy, to name a few.
Today, we would like to focus on the role and the history of the BENTO BOX [弁当箱] in Japan.
Ancient Bento History
The earliest records of packed lunches in Japan date back to around the 5th century, when people going out to hunt, farm, or fight in a war took food with them to eat on the job. They typically carried rice, which was eaten either in its dried state or after being rehydrated with cold or hot water, or rice balls [おにぎり].
During this time, people mainly used bento boxes on the battlefield.
| MAKUNOUCHI Bento
In the Edo period, 17th century, after the age of civil war, the bento culture began to flourish. It was more for fun than practical purposes. MAKUNOUCHI, the lunch box with various colorful side dishes eaten during shows, was born in the culture. MAKUNOUCHI in Japanese means “before the curtains open.” Crafts people started making beautifully lacquered boxes to hold and transport food from one place to another so the decoration enhanced the entertainment. People enjoyed MAKUNOUCHI inside these beautiful lacquered bento boxes during the show time. Nowadays, we still enjoy MAKUNOUCHI not only at shows, but also at rapid trains as EKIBEN [駅弁], offices, ceremony etc.
You may see a lot of different types of bento boxes at convenient stores or supermarkets during your stay in Japan. These types of meals are super quick, tasty and less expensive (which we love). However, mothers want to let their kids know how special they are. Mothers (not all, though) cook and prepare some amazingly fun and exciting bento boxes for their kids with love every morning.
Bento box culture started for very practical reasons. However, at its essence it’s a box filled with our curiosity and love of food, life and people. At TAKENAKA, we're on a mission to sustainably produce quality products to keep up and enhance meal time. We hope you will choose your own bento box and begin packing them with love.