Jubako, Japanese Tiered Picnic BentoKatachiware Japanese Style Tableware
Used in Japan during the Heian period (794-1185), Jubako Bento (重箱) means “Layered Bento Boxes”. Similar to bento boxes they are a combination of elaborately decorated lacquered boxes used for holding and presenting food in on outings or special occasions.
The upper-classes traditionally used Jubako Bento to hold takeaway meals in for picnics, birthdays, celebrations and special occasions. They were stacked before and after serving the dinner and also used for holding Osechi-ryōri (御節料理) foods in for traditional Japanese New Year celebrations.
Osechi-ryori would typically consist of many small dishes, filled to the brim and served cold, each mouthwatering dish had a meaning that represented a New Years wish. Jubako boxes were considered to be luxurious tableware which was initially only available to nobles and lords. Some of the foods included;
- Daidai which is a Japanese bitter orange
- Datemaki sweet rolled omelette mixed with fish paste
- Kamaboko is broiled fish cake
- Konbu kind of a seaweed
- Kuro-mame are black soybeans
- Nishiki tamago egg roulade
- Tai is red sea-bream
- Tazukuri dried sardines cooked in soy sauce
- Zōni soup of mochi rice cakes in clear broth
- Ebi skewered prawns cooked with sake and soy sauce
- Kohaku-namasu daikon & carrot strips pickled in sweetened vinegar
Unlike the traditional red and black lacquered bento boxes, Jubako normally has a seamless and simple design. Each dish has a symbolic meaning behind it such as good health, fertility, happiness and long life, in essence, multilayered happiness and health.
Still used today in luxurious hotels for serving tea in and still popular at cherry-blossom viewing parties there are two types that can be distinguished by the foods served. Jubako bento is used mostly for Osechi-ryōri and the other is used for special occasions such as outings and picnics birthdays and celebrations for entering school and graduation.
Jubako bento boxes are available in a lacquered resin plastic while others made from precious woods that have been lacquered and finished with intricate patterns are considered priceless art.