Like many, I’m a big fan of bento, those convenient and delicious Japanese boxed lunches. Said to have evolved from 幕の内弁当 makunouchi bento (lit. “between-the-curtains boxed lunch”) sold by vendors between acts at kabuki plays or between bouts at sumo wrestling events during the Edo Period, bento has become as famous around the world as anime, manga and ninjas. There are many benefits to embracing bento lunch culture: the ingredients are healthy and come with built-in portion control, bento is cheaper to make than eating out, plus you can enjoy what the Japanese call 職の美 shoku no bi, or “the beauty of food.” Recently Mrs. J-List has been going to the gym in the mornings, and because she’s too busy to make lunch at home she’s been giving me bento to take to work. This is the best kind of bento in the world, called 愛妻弁当 aisai bento or “bento made by one’s loving wife.” Since I’ve been eating bento so much these days, I’ve taken to keeping a bottle of that heavenly Bull-Dog sauce in my office. (You probably knew that J-List has an awesome selection of bento boxes and bento and kitchen accessories as well as bento books and cookbooks in stock, but if you didn’t, now you do.)
Celebrating Japan’s culture of bento boxed lunches.