How to Bento in Japanese way

8 May

Bento is a Japanese word that means a boxed lunch or a packed lunch, but nowadays I know it has become an international term people recognize it as it is. It’s quite common in our culture to bring bento from home for lunch, regardless of kid or adult. Japanese mothers usually take great time and effort to make bento for their kids and sometimes for their husbands as well. Especially these days, people are more into saving due to depressed economy, more and more Japanese people are likely to eat bento from home instead of purchasing it or dining out.

Besides that, April is a start of the year. New fiscal year or school year starts from 1st April. There’s no wonder bento goods catch people’s attention especially during this time of the year.

Bento boxes are so colorful and cheerful. 🙂

What are these small plastic cups for? You may wonder. Japanese bento usually carry several different dishes in small portion each in a small lunch box. These mini cups will prevent 2 different dishes from mixing each other while the bento box is carried. These days, reusable silicon cups are popular, but disposable paper ones are handy and durable as well because they have variety of sizes, shapes, colors. Even though they are disposable, they are coated with plastic so they should not absorb oil.

These are partition sheets used between 2 different dishes. Again same as small cups they are good to avoid any flavors travelling between several different dishes in a small bento box. At the same time, they help bento look more colorful. Colorful bento often stimulates our appetite, don’t you think so? 😉

These are antibacterial sheets especially useful during warm season. Put one sheet over your bento and that will prevent your bento from bacteria. We may also use some refrigerants to keep bento cool and microwave it before we eat it.

Here are some tips on making a Japanese styled bento.

1: Avoid watery ingredients. Water, soup or juice could travel inside the bento box only to ruin your bento completely. It’d be terrible if they seep out of bento box!

2: Season bento dishes little stronger so they can still taste good hours later, even if they are not heated when you eat.

3: Prevent your bento from going bad. Using antibacterial device or refrigerant may be a good idea, but you can use vinegar in some bento dishes such as Umeboshi (pickled plum) to protect your bento from going off. BTW, that’s the reason Japanese bento often has an Umeboshi at the center of steamed rice. 😉

4: Do not make extra space in a bento box. While it’s carried contents can move inside the bento box. In order not to let them move, don’t allow any little room inside the bento box!

5: Make it colorful and cheerful so your bento time can be enjoyable!

Japanese bento examples…

Do you remember these bento for 2 of us (Chika and me) when we had ohanami (viewing cherry blossoms) in Chidorigafuchi? ^_^

FYI, these bento are made by Chika, my friend. She is helping TKE with food posts lately, because she cooks/makes bento for her grandma almost every other day. As for myself, I have always been too lazy to prepare a bento for anyone. ^ ^;; So I’d thank Chika for her beautiful bento pictures and tips for TKE readers!

Do you enjoy your bento?


28 Responses to “How to Bento in Japanese way”

  1. denny May 8, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    these look so great! i've always been envious of the pretty, colorful bentos you are able to make guys!

    • kirin May 8, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

      Thank you denny. ^^
      You can also make something as nice as this with some tools and colorful ingredients. ^^

  2. mizmei May 8, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    hi, just wondering, after cooking, do you need to let the food cool before covering up the box? i've always wondered how to prevent the food from turning bad so thank you for your post!

    • kirin May 10, 2011 at 4:47 am #

      Yes, exactly! Don't cover the lid while your bento is still warm.
      Thank you for asking. ^ ^

  3. Emi May 8, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

    Wow! I always thought Bentos were cute and done with effort and care! I want one too to go to work! T.T
    By the way, where can I purchase cute bento products like those ones in the pictures? ^^

  4. Steven Stier May 8, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    Bento boxes may have saved my life while in Japan. It was nice to be able to walk into a convenience store and by a ready made meal. Otherwise I may have starved. Of course the boxes you show here are much fresher and more beautiful.

    • kirin May 10, 2011 at 4:53 am #

      Bento from convenience store is so handy and reasonable. It's true many working people buy "conbini bento" (that's how we call it) for lunch.

  5. sedonia2 May 8, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    Those bento arrangements are beautiful and look absolutely delicious. When I read posts like this it makes me want to go live there because it seems like a culture in which people really know how to live in a sensible way.

    • kirin May 10, 2011 at 4:56 am #

      I see. That's possible, it's from our culture…Thank you for your interesting point of view that I didn't think of. I personally like casual American ways and I was really depressed when I thought of the day when I would become a mom to prepare bento for my kids everyday. Well, I didn't have kids after all though. :p

      • sedonia2 May 10, 2011 at 5:08 am #

        I didn't have kids either. I just turned 42. 🙂 As far as casual American ways – there are nice things about it, but there is a negative side to that in that people aren't careful often and are so caught up in making money that people get put second. That's become a problem and America has been largely degraded. So when I see practices in another culture that have held onto to something human and sweet. I'm moved by it. BTW – I don't know if you saw my comment about the Second button post on your blog. I just found it the other day and I was so moved. I'm totlaly going to write a story about that!

      • kirin May 10, 2011 at 5:26 am #

        "something human and sweet"…I see! I remember someone from the U.S and U.K also mentioned that people don't care at all in their country and that's why they like Japan. ^ ^;; Well some people care too much and that makes others care too much, and sometimes the society becomes stifling over here…haha!

        Oh, somehow I didn't notice your comment on that post. Thank you for the reminder, I just read it and replied to it. I'm so impressed with your energy to produce new novels one after another! ^ ^

      • sedonia2 May 10, 2011 at 6:06 am #

        Yes, I would say the same as the other people. Our society here is what is called "dog eat dog" or "every man for himself". It gets disgusting! So yes, when we see aspects of Japanese culture that show a value of caring for others it's very moving. I know it sounds weird but even the yakuza have their own way of accepting people who are rejected everywhere else and giving them a place to fit so they're not out making trouble. But I was thinking about it recently – remembering your post on those short stay rooms (I forget the name) where you can go for a few hours and rest, have a shower and use the computer when you're out in the city and need to rest. There is nothing like that here.

      • kirin May 11, 2011 at 5:35 am #

        I see, thank you for your opinion, that's very interesting. I heard even Yakuza contributed to charity after the Japan Quake. Some Yakuza sent food or goods to the affected areas, sooner than anyone else, according to what I heard.

        I guess you mean Apple's post and this one. Manga Kissa. (Manga Cafe)

  6. winnie May 9, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    Hi Kirin,
    I wish I can eat them.
    I did not manage to do as cute as how yours yummy pictures like.
    Need to improve.
    Thank you for sharing!

    • kirin May 10, 2011 at 4:59 am #

      You can make use of reasonable kawaii items from 100yen shop and make your bento look colorful. Only a small thing but things like this will make a difference, I think. Of course I'm not so good at making bento, and first of all, I don't like to make it by myself. This one is made by my friend. lol

  7. nomitai May 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    Those bento look so good! I'm always impressed with the variety of dishes included in a typical lunch. I have a hello kitty bento box and some of those silicon cups but I never really use them because I'm too lazy :p

    • kirin May 11, 2011 at 5:37 am #

      Those little cups and tools are helpful to keep your bento stay in good position, not getting mixed up while you carry it. ^ ^ But if you do not travel long distance, you'll be OK without them.

  8. Jill Lutz May 10, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

    HI Kirin!! I love bento too!! I was on awhile back and found them to be a grrreat source for most of my Bento needs and wants… I think bento is so super affordable, allows u to be creative and artistic and it is very pleasing to the eyes and palette. U can also make healthy snacks or take one out for a picnic lunch. (My hubby and I Do.)

    Chika's Bento look so beautiful… makes me want to make one for myself and my hubby now too!!
    Thanks for sharing this!

    • kirin May 11, 2011 at 5:38 am #

      I think many full-time moms really enjoy making creative kawaii bento everyday for their kids in Japan. Some of them blog about the bento they make everyday. ^ ^

  9. StephanieMvl May 10, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    Lo que no puedo esperar es probar la comida japonesa. Hay algunos restaurantes japoneses donde vivo, pero son bastante caros. Me encantaría probar comida hecha en casa también.

    What i can't wait is to try japanese food. There are some japanese restaurants where i live, but they are very expensive. I would love to try homemade food as well.

  10. Tokyochel (rachel) May 13, 2011 at 3:30 am #

    I love bento so much! I post many pics of cute bento on my site too. That's funny that you say you're too lazy to make bento for anyone. I feel the same way, but I like to look at it 🙂

    • kirin May 13, 2011 at 11:30 am #

      Haha, sometimes I'm very practical. I like to make something when it's left for longer. Bento requires a little bit of several different dishes and that requires me much effort and time. I think it's easier to cook and eat at home than to make a bento. -_-;; I'm very lazy especially when it comes to bento.

  11. Akaito_san October 2, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    Hey its me kingnaruto one of the youtube viewers and i say it looks yummy ^^

    • kirin October 3, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

      Welcome to TKE blog and thank you for your comment. ^ ^
      Japanese bentos are very colorful and a lot of dishes are put there, so they really look yummy. ^ ^

  12. Midori Shop 8 May 22, 2012 at 7:31 am #

    Hi, we loved your tips…please allow us to share at our page:
    Thank you very much ^^

    • kirin May 23, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

      Sure, please go ahead. You have a lovely page in Facebook. 🙂

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