Bento Box Types

Top 17 Japanese Bento Box Types

Bento boxes are typically a lunch box that serves a meal for one person. Bento box in Japanese is written as 弁当 and pronounced obento. Today the concept has made its presence felt in every household worldwide. Distinct from the standard lunch box in the sense constituent, a perfect combination of varied textures, tastes and food ingredients.

Hanami (flower viewing) bento in Edo period illustrated by Hiroshige Ando.
Hanami (Flower Viewing) Bento In Edo Period Illustrated By Hiroshige Ando.

An average Japanese meal packed into the bento box comprises rice, fish, meat, and pickled vegetables. The Japanese homemaker uses every inch of space provided in the box to prepare and pack wholesome and nutritious meals for her family members.

  • Chūka bentō (中華弁当) Chinese food often used as a late-night snack.
  • Makunouchi bentō (幕の内弁当) Classic bento with rice, umeboshi, a slice of broiled salmon, and a rolled egg.
  • Sake bentō (鮭弁当) Bento with a slice of broiled salmon and rice.
  • Tori bento (鳥弁当) Chicken pieces cooked in sauce served over rice.
  • Soboro bento (鳥弁当) Ingredients depend on the time of year but generally include shredded chicken, meat, fish, shrimp or eggs that are slightly browned and laid out in the form of a pattern or picture
  • Go-tojo bento (御東條弁当) Meaning “castle-visit bento” was a bento box carried by daimyo during the Edo period. They would travel to the inner keep of the Edo Castle three times a month to visit the shogun carrying bento. The visits were called “tsukinami onrei” (“monthly gratitude”), and the bento carried by the daimyo was called “go-tojo bento” meaning “castle-visit bento”.

Following are the most common types of bento boxes available in Japan and around the world. Included are a translation of each Bento Box Types from Japanese to English.

Shokado Bento Boxes

Edo period Shokado Bento Boxes, Simple, Elegant & Inspiring

Shokado bento boxes (松花堂弁当) are simple yet elegant lacquered bento boxes used for serving food. Divided into four uniform sections like the Chinese character "field" 田, the bento box includes extended edges with a lid to keep its contents safe from spilling. Shokado bento evolved from Kaiseki Ryori cuisine The Edo pe...

Shidashi Bento Box (Effortless Japanese Catered Bento)

Shidashi Bento Box (Effortless Japanese Catered Bento)

Shidashi Bento Box – Japanese Catered Bento (仕出し弁当) – Shidashi is a term used to describe bento served by professional caterers. These box meals are ordered for important guests or special occasions. Shidashi bento is filled with a colourful array of arranged side dishes including rice, tempura, pickled vegetables and protein. ...

Koraku Bento (Picnic Lunchbox)

Koraku Bento (Picnic Lunchbox)

Koraku Bento translated into English is Picnic Lunchbox. As the name suggests, Koraku Bento boxes are made for sharing among a group of people at picnics, day outings and sports events. In March and April, they are prepared and shared with a group of friends during the cherry blossom viewing festivals. Similar to traditional bento ...

Oekakiben Bento

Oekakiben Bento

Oekakiben or "picture bento" is a type of bento box that is prepared by the mother for her child in a manner that the ingredients are decorated to resemble a picture or a scene. Often depicting objects such as animals, favourite pets, famous people, buildings, monuments, scenes from a favourite movie or specific items such as flower...

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