Japanese lunch boxes are


Japanese lunch boxes are really cute.

When you bring lunch from home, it's likely to be some of last night's rice, topped with flakes of salmon or with pickled vegetables. Depending on what you had for dinner the previous night, you may include some bits of stewed meat or vegetables, or even a bit of fried chicken. You'll add in a cup of instant miso soup because no meal is complete without rice and soup.

So you can imagine that the standard, roomy, American lunch boxes might not work so well. Bento boxes are made expecially for the sorts of bits and peices of food that go into them. You can buy very fancy ones made of lacquer and decorated with gold leaf. There are also less costly plastic versions of these elegant boxes.

But what I've seen in the office lunchroom is more kin to the character lunchboxes I carried to school as a kid but considerably smaller. Imagine a cross between a 2-cup sized tupperware and a gift box and you have the right idea.

The oblong box is contoured like an old-fashioned cedar lunch container. Its hard plastic outer shell fits together like a gift box and is decorated on top with cartoon characters or photos of animals. Some have silly sayings in English: "Heart is the time of lunch. Let's enjoy relaxing health together."

Inside is a pull out tray divided for the tidbits of vegetable, fish, meat and pickles and a lower compartment for rice. For diners with larger appetites, three-layer boxes are also available.

There are no pictures of these on the web that I can find, so if you'd like to see one, you'll have to come to Japan and visit any store that sells household goods.


At www.jlink.com

At www.jlist.com

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