21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
The Japanese bento is attracting increasing attention overseas. There is a growing bento trend in France, as a range of different ingredients can be packed into a compact container, and a nutritious, and well-balanced meal can be enjoyed without having to eat out. Another benefit is that it's much quicker to consume than eating a full-course meal.
This bento trend has been boosted by a shop in France specializing in bento boxes. This availability of a wide range of bento boxes has resulted in Japan's bento culture being quickly adopted in the country.
There is a lunchbox culture in other countries, but here we introduce the amazing and unique features of the Japanese bento box.
The Magewappa refers to the cylindrically shaped bento boxes made by bending thin planks of cedar or cypress.
Any excess moisture of the rice is absorbed by the Akita cedar to maintain an ideal humidity for the contents of the bento. The rice becomes glossier and a sweetness and umami different from freshly steamed rice are added, while the anti-bacterial properties of cedar means that the contents keep for longer.
The bento box is an extremely practical item as it is lightweight and easily transportable. The features of this type of bento box are the beautiful grain, color and pleasant aroma of the cypress or Akita cedar and the classical design, making the magewappa popular amongst all Japanese, regardless of age or gender.
The Shokado Bento refers to a square box with tall sides and a lid, with the interior divided into four sections. It is traditionally used for serving Kaiseki Ryori. Unlike the conventional bento box, the Shokado Bento represents fine dining, and this particular type of bento is eaten on celebratory occasions or when entertaining special guests. It has also been traditionally served at tea ceremonies.
Its feature is the fact that the box is divided into 4 sections, in a cross shape. Because of this, the flavors and aroma of each of the different ingredients - simmered, grilled, sashimi, rice etc. - do not become combined, ensuring the integrity of each ingredient or dish, while each of these dishes can be arranged beautifully. Moreover, lacquer has sterilizing properties, making this bento box a container which combines function and beauty.
Other advantages of lacquer are its quality finish and warm texture, the fact that it is lightweight and that it can be repaired and therefore be used for very long periods of time.
The even application of lacquer requires great skill and an indicator of a craftsman's talent. Enjoy the beauty of the lacquer box, a result of the craftsman's skill, while enjoying various dishes in a Shokado Bento.
In recent years, heatable bento boxes utilizing chemical reaction are making their appearance, while some bento boxes come with a soup container as well. This means that warm rice and soup can be eaten anywhere. Bento boxes with cute designs are also available throughout Japan, and make excellent souvenirs or gifts, and we encourage you to check out Japan's bento boxes.
By public transportation
Take the Karasuma Subway Line from Kyoto Station to Karasumi Oike Station and walk for 12 minutes. Or, get the Kyoto City Bus and get off at Kawaramachi Sanjo Bus Stop, from where the Bertrand Bento&co. Store is 4 minutes on foot.