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Thinking Out of the Box: French Retailer Selling “Bentō” Goods to Global Fans

Photographs posted on sites like Instagram and Facebook have greatly raised the profile of Japanese bentō lunches, inspiring admiration and imitation around the world. Thomas Bertrand, originally of France and now based in Kyoto, started an online service in 2008 that supplies lunchboxes to help international fans enjoy bentō culture.

A “Bentō” with Character (Japan in Photos)

Pago-chan, the mascot of Ikaruga in Nara Prefecture, stands next to a boxed lunch made in the spitting image of the cuddly character. The award-winning lunch was created by a young chef as part of a kyaraben, or character bentō contest held in the town, home of UNESCO World Heritage Site Hōryūji. The persimmon-shaped Pago-chan, whose name derives from the English word pagoda, is based on a wel…


Bentō lunches are Japanese meals that can be enjoyed anywhere. Different regions have their own specialties, aimed particularly at rail travelers.

Show Me Your “Bentō”!: Under the Cherry Trees

Each spring, Japanese people hold picnics under the cherry blossoms. Families, friends, and colleagues bring food and beverages from home or the store to share. Nippon.com went to a Tokyo park to find out what the cherry-blossom viewers were eating and drinking.

“Kyaraben” (Character “Bentōs”)

Bentō makers are livening up lunch by adding cute character designs to box meals. Fueled by media attention and blogging, these character bentōs, or kyaraben, have become a Japanese craze.

Wrap Your Lunch: Reinventing the Humble Rice Ball with “Onigirazu”James Singleton

The onigiri (rice ball) is one of Japanese cuisine’s oldest traditions. But a new interpretation known as onigirazu is remaking the image of the centuries-old staple snack and garnering an increasing amount of lunchtime attention. Onigirazu is a hearty dish that is closer to a rice sandwich than a rice ball. It first began to grab attention online at popular cooking sites and with food bloggers…

Five BentōsNippon.com Staff

The bentō is an intrinsic part of Japan’s culinary culture, ranging from simple, made-at-home meals to convenience store fare, and all the way up to haute cuisine produced by top chefs. These portable meals combine visual aesthetics with taste and can be enjoyed at the office, under the blossoms, or wherever hunger may strike. Below are five typical bentōs found in Japan. During the Edo perio…

My “Bentō,” My Pride

Many people use their blogs to report on the various bentō that they make from day to day. We surveyed popular bentō bloggers about their meal-making secrets.

Your Own Japanese-Style Box Meal

Bentō are an important part of daily dining for millions of Japanese students and workers, and a major industry has grown up around the tools and methods used for their creation. Below we introduce some playful ingredients for box meals, along with a handful of the special implements invented to make their creation a snap.

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