Did you know the very first bento box fed warriors on the road hundreds of years ago? While the single-portion meal in a box carrying different kinds of food has been around for centuries, it’s been through quite the evolution before reaching its current status.
Even though this lunch originally began as a meal nourishing different types of workers on-the-go out of convenience, today you’ll typically find Pikachu and Hello Kitty rice balls part of bento boxes in Japan. Although the presentation of the box has adapted, the core benefits remain unchanged. The bento box covers all the essential food groups from fruits, grains, dairy, vegetables and protein – making for a well-balanced meal.
We’ll take a closer look at what the bento box is and how it evolved into the popular lunch option that it is today.
Thinking Inside the Box
Before bento boxes included very intricate designs, the boxed lunch had very humble beginnings. In the fifth century, the first record of packed lunches in Japan included dried rice when people would go out to hunt, farm or wage war, and brought food with them to eat on the job to simply save time.
The bento box appeared in the 16th century to feed people under military commander Oda Nobunaga. It also made a splash during the Edo period (1630-1868) where people brought them along to outdoor activities or even the theatre. As the railway system picked up steam, so did the station bento box during the Meiji period of 1868-1912.
Today’s Bento Box
The box is as complex as ever, compared to its original use. Today you can find the Kyaraben version decorated to look like popular characters from Japanese animation, comic books, or video games.
There are also the Oekakiben bento boxes designed to look like people, animals, buildings, and monuments or specific items like flowers and plants.
This article comes from jpninfo edit released