Shikaeshi Bento, Revenge Bento Uncovered

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Shikaeshi Bento, Revenge Bento Uncovered

Curious to know how a Japanese wife’s anger is expressed while preparing lunch for her husband?

“Uncooked rice, an uncooked egg or a broken heart cut from Nori and one chopstick”, OUCH!

Shikaeshi bento is the Japanese wives revenge bento prepared after an argument and its not the lunch you hope to try. Couples can’t always expect a lovingly prepared lunch every day of the year.

Shikaeshi Bento
Shikaeshi Bento

In Japan, bento boxes have been used for centuries. Originally adopted by field workers and warriors to carry lunches in, they were a must have lunch accessory. Fast forward a few hundred years: Japanese nobles used them to present lavish foods. Tired lunch boxes, “Jubako bento” with intriguing designs prepared with lavish foods which were eaten on outings, and the best Jubako boxes were delivering a message of status.

Today, bento lunch boxes are an essential part of Japanese culture and cuisine. Their compartmented design makes them perfect for packaging lunches on the run or for serving a meal at home. When prepared for the family, bento boxes are used to convey one’s feelings and emotions.

Aisai Ben (愛妻弁当 or “bento of love”)

The preparation process of bento lunches can deliver many messages. Made with love, they express a mother’s affection for her child or husband, through the commitment of creating a delicious and nutritious meal. Aisai Ben (愛妻弁当–bento of love), meaning “Bento made by loving wives”, is an innovative lunchbox decoration to convey a loving message. From the spouses perspective, receiving a crafted Aisai bento means his wife or husband is happy and appreciative.

Shikaeshi Bento (仕返し弁当) or “revenge bento“)

Sometimes made with a different message. What happens when spouses argue, discussions get heated which carry over to the next day? An angry husband or wife that gets up early to make lunch for their partner may make an interesting bento that differs from the normal lunch. They may be furious, but still make a lunchbox.

Such vengeance bento’s called Shikaeshi Bento (仕返し弁当), “revenge lunchbox“ or Shikaeshiben. Just imagine a husband looking forward to his prepared lunch after a hard morning. In front of co-workers, he opens his lunch to find an unpleasant and embarrassing surprise with insults. “Idiot”. It reminds him how angry his wife is and realises how important their wives are.

Some Shikaeshi bento lunch box meals take it too far, be on the lookout for the following examples. If you find one in your next lunch box, you know that something is unsettled at home.

Shikaeshi Bento, Uncooked Rice & Chopsticks

Uneatable Shikaeshi Bento, box full of hard, uncooked rice & a pair of chopsticks, yum.

Shikaeshi Bento Rice & Nori Broken Heart

Shikaeshi Bento filled with rice and a broken heart shaped from Nori.

Shikaeshi Bento Pickled Plums & Rice

Shikaeshi Bento filled with pure pickled plums, a little rice and chopsticks.

Shikaeshi Bento Frozen Corn

This is an absolute punishment, frozen corn, more corn and chopsticks.

Shikaeshi Revenge Bento Ideas

  • Bento full of sour umeboshi pickled plums with a little rice in the middle
  • From an angry mother to son, note on a bed of uncooked rice saying, “Crime & Punishment.”
  • Some have snarky sayings cut from seaweed, in Japanese, so you must read the captions.
  • Some are illustrated, like the cockroaches at the top of a bed of uncooked rice.
  • Edible black hearts with nori-laced insults.
  • Sausage made to look like a cut finger on a bed of white rice.
  • Raw egg on a bed of uncooked rice.
  • Lovely lunch made with vegetables shaped to look like cockroaches.
  • The word “baka” (idiot) written in seaweed on a flat bed of rice.
  • Bento filled with rice and a broken heart shaped from Nori.

Shikaeshi Bento Popular in Japan

Shikaeshi bento have gone on to become quite popular in Japan. For example, the couple named Sanpei and Taiichi, from Kanda, Tokyo, is one of the most famous couples in the country.

They‘ve been married for over 25 years, but they fought almost every day. Their fight is always over the dishes they have prepared. They ‘ve been arguing over the cost of pork in a bento and one day, they got into a huge fight and the next day they prepared a bento called Shikaeshi Bento. This bento contains no meat, veggies, or any kind of sweet. They used only rice and a few dehydrated vegetables.

The wife has a yen for beef while her husband is fond of chicken, so this was their revenge bento.

Revenge Bento Conclusion

You know you have done something wrong if you get a Shikaeshi bento for your next lunch. The revenge lunchbox is a passive yet effective way a Japanese wife can express her anger towards her husband by giving him an unpleasant surprise during his lunch break. They may put less time into the box and make it less delicious or bland looking. It is best not to have your wife or mother prepare you a bento after you have had an argument, the result may not be pleasant.

Some people find Shikaeshi Bento cute; an occasional one can refresh one’s relationship to realise how much the couple loves each other. Take heed and be extra nice to the person making your lunch, or you just might end up with a lunch with a curse.

“Revenge may be wicked, but it’s natural.”
― William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair

Shikaeshi Bento “Revenge Bento” or revenge lunchbox is certainly one that you would never hope to receive. This meal’s intention was so that a wife could give her husband a memorable and unpleasant surprise during his meal break. As the bento box was opened, the husband would find an embarrassing design or a box filled with nothing but uncooked rice or raw egg making the meal inedible.

Other examples of revenge bento include: a bento box with a bed of uncooked rice, sour pickled plum and the word baka or aho (idiot) written in seaweed. The message eloquently meant “Crime and punishment.”Lunch box full of sour umeboshi pickled plums with the word “baka” (idiot) written out in seaweed. A note in a bento box with uncooked rice saying, “Crime and punishment.” This bento is from the angry mother to her son.

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