9 Interesting Facts About Bento That You Probably Had No Idea AboutKatachiware Japanese Style Tableware
Facts About Bento – Today we all take bento boxes for granted, lovely prepared lunches or Japanese cooked meals that we look forward to devouring though how much do you really know about the multi-compartmental boxes?
Originating from Japan, the demand for bento boxed meals continues to grow. From adorable bento for kids to beautiful bamboo or wooden bento boxes for adults. What makes these compartmentalised boxes so popular, both among homeowners and culinary professionals. Here we have collected 9 Interesting Amazing And Lesser-Known Facts About Bento Box.
Table of Contents
#1 The Term Bento Box, Did It Come from Japan or China?
Many might know this, the word “bento” originated from China during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) and later spread into Japan. In Chinese bento translates to Biandang 便当 which means convenience. In bento box history, they were food boxes bolstered by bamboo and wood from inside with a lid and base. Mentioned in several Chinese literary works there is also evidence that during the Warring States Period (2,000 years ago) bento boxes were used in the form of a bronze food storage box that had ornaments inlaid in silver with auspicious beast patterns.
#2 – Ekiben Festival in Shinjuku Held Every Year Since 1967
One of Keio’s Department Stores all-time favourite events! Located near the West Exit of Shinjuku station it has been held for over 50 years and this year is the 53rd time. More than 300 different “Ekiben” (station lunch boxes) are sold and tourists from around the globe and locals gather at this exciting event. Japan. Eating ekiben is one of the exciting parts of train trips for the Japanese. Many of you may have seen these ekiben sold at Shinkansen station allowing you to experience Japan’s unique food culture.
#3 – Guinness World Record, Most Expensive Bento Served In Japan
In Japan boxed lunch boxes provide you with the ability to get an assortment of great food for an affordable price but one high-end restaurant packs premium delicacies into it’s new super sized meat lover’s bento that features the best quality wagyu beef from the Tottori prefecture served along with a serving of silky Kinu Musume rice. Initially served during “meat day” in Japan the bento meal weighs more than 4.5 kg, pried at 300,000 yen ($3686.95 AUD) and has since won a Guinness World Record for the “Most Expensive Bento” category.
#4 – Edo Period Samurai Carry Strapped Bento Essentials During Battle
More facts about bento bring us to Japan during the Edo period (1603–1868), Samurai were known to carry waist bento boxes called “koshi bento” made from metal with a spiral-shaped seal on the lid to keep it sealed. As part of their outfit, the lunch box was strapped to the samurai’s waist while on horseback hunting or waging war. It was designed to fit snugly around their waist so that they would not fall while the horse ran.
#5 – Lacquered Bento Boxes Lend Their Inspiration from a Monk’s Tobacco Box
During the Edo period, 1603-1868 a well respected Japanese Buddhist priest who was also a painter, calligrapher and poet styled his own tobacco box which was divided into four equal compartments with a lid. The tobacco box was painted red and black and lacquered with a gloss finish. The Shokado bento box that we know today in the traditional crimson red and black was inspired from the original tobacco tin that was on display at a tea house in Kyoto Japan.
#5 – Nearly Five Billion Bento Boxes Made at Home Each Year in Japan Alone
It’s been estimated that each year, more than five billion, yes that’s 5,000,000,000 bento lunch boxes are made at home in Japan. Creating healthy meals for the family is one of the many pressures that mom’s face so its no wonder that Japanese mom’s have it tough.
Of the five billion more than 70% of them are made for adults as bento made from home is a cheaper and healthier option for workers, as opposed to takeaway meals.
#7 – Freddie Mercury, Bullet Train & Bento Photos In Private
Rarely seen photos of Freddie Mercury behind closed doors have recently surfaced. In Japan, on 25th October 1988, Freddie was leaving Nagoya during the Hot Space Japan Tour.
Travelling the Bullet train photos recently surfaced showing Freddie eating his Ekiben or Bento meal on the train. Although we are not able to trace the source of these photos, its difficult to tell which Ekiben meal he chose and it’s clear that he is also enjoying a beer with his meal and having a good time.
# 8 – Bento Lunch Boxes with Insults are Quite Common in Japan
During the 16th century, Japanese home wives would make shikaeshiben “Shikaeshiben Bento” as a way of getting back to their husbands. Meals would include fowl written insults, or the food would be over or under cooked, making it inedible. Some examples of this included uncooked rice, an uncooked egg or a broken heart cut from nori and one chopstick. Another which was the absolute punishment, frozen corn, more frozen corn and chopsticks. I’m quite sure that the message eventually got through to the partner.
# 9 – Schools in Japan Abolish the use of Bento Due to Social Issues
At number 9, the final facts about bento bring us to World War I. The distinction between the wealthy and poor became evident across Japan due to a boom in exports and repeated crop failures. The poor were hungry, yet the wealthy could afford the most expensive items, including aluminium bento boxes. This caused schools to eliminate bento boxes as they were a social issue reflecting the student’s wealth. Bento boxes made from aluminium were affordable to wealthy families and were treated as a status symbol with an assortment of elegantly prepared nutritious foods.