Kids Web Japan

Bento Gallery

A Kid's Bento

The rice is coated with black sesame seeds and flower-shaped furikake (seasoned condiment powder), while the sides include a well-balanced array of fried shrimp, sausages, meatballs, mini-tomatoes, and a side made of boiled hijiki seaweed, carrots, and soybeans.

Kyara-ben (Character Bento)

Kyara-ben (character bento) are bento that feature various designs at their center, such as facial expressions, characters from manga or anime, celebrities, animals, vehicles, and scenery. This type of bento is gaining attention as a way to help kids enjoy eating all of their food, even if it contains something they don't like.

Onigiri (Rice Balls)

Onigiri (rice balls) are made by kneading rice with the palms of hands into triangular or circular shapes. The most traditional ingredient put into onigiri are umeboshi (salted, dried plums) but other common ingredients include grilled cod roe, salted and grilled salmon, tsukudani (foods boiled in soy sauce), and dried bonito flakes. In recent years, more western-style ingredients like tuna and mayonnaise have also become popular. The rice itself is often also salted, and onigiri is a unique, Japanese food that can also act as a main dish for a meal.

The photo is of a bento box woven from thin bamboo strips filled with six onigiri, two each of three different types. The onigiri are made of white rice wrapped in seaweed, with the onigiri on the left filled with salmon, while those on the right are filled with umeboshi. The onigiri in the middle are kneaded from rice filled with shibazuke (Kyoto-style copped vegetables picked in salt with red shiso leaves). A piece of parsley is included as garnish.

Two-Layer Bento

A colorful array of food has been arranged inside this two-tiered, elliptical bento container.

The lower tier features rice that has been sprinkled with furikake seasoning, while the upper tier holds the side dishes. This tier is filled with Hamburg steak, boiled mushrooms, tamagoyaki, and mini-tomatoes.

Bento for Sale — Makunouchi Bento

The name of this bento reflects its origins as a box lunch eaten during intermission at the theater. Traditionally, it was served in a set of tiered lacquered boxes and shared among several people. The top layers of boxes contained side dishes, and the bottom layer was packed with cylindrical rice balls. Now sold at bento shops and train stations as an individual box lunch, the makunouchi bento is one of the most popular types of bento.

The bento in the picture is a makunouchi bento sold in a department store. The rice is sprinkled with black sesame seeds, with an umeboshi placed in the center, while the side dishes feature tamagoyaki, shrimp tempura, grilled fish, chicken meatballs, and various boiled foods, showing off the bounties of both the mountains and seas.

Bento for Sale — Mixed Fried Food Bento

This bento contains a variety of fried foods, such as fried shrimp, fried white fish, and karaage (Japanese-style fried chicken). It also includes plenty of cabbage.

Bento for Sale — Nori (Seaweed) Bento

This type of bento features rice sprinkled with dried bonito flakes, covered by a strip of seaweed. The bento also features croquettes, an Isobe-age (fried in the Isobe style) fish sausage, karaage, and fried white fish, providing a hearty volume of food.

Bento for Sale — Chirashizushi

This chirasuzushi (unrolled sushi) boasts a plentiful array of the ocean's bounty, featuring tuna, sea bream, salmon, conger eel, salmon roe, scallops, and other seafood.

Most of the ingredients used in a bento are boiled or grilled, but some of them are raw.

Ekiben (station bento) — Kamameshi

Kamameshi is rice cooked with fish and vegetables in a small pot. Kamameshi allows eaters to combine flavored rice with various ingredients, and is quite popular.

Ekiben (station bento) — Mackerel sushi

When the bamboo leaves are opened, half of a mackerel that has been prepared with vinegar and covered with thin strips of kelp greets the eye.

Underneath the mackerel is sushi rice. Soy sauce can be added according to taste. The dish includes ginger pickled in sweet vinegar. Food wrapped in bamboo leaves is one of the original forms of bento.

Ekiben (station bento) — Fukagawa rice

Ekiben (station bento) include an area's special products. Fukagawa, formerly a downtown district of Tokyo, was known as a key source of clams, which is said to be the reason why Fukagawa-meshi (Fukagawa rice) was also known as asari-meshi (clam rice). This dish was originally a donburi (deep bowl) dish in which a miso soup made of clams and leeks would be poured on top of rice.

A Hangetsu (half moon) Bento

This type of box with the shape of a half-moon is said to have been a favorite of Sen no Rikyu, who established the tea ceremony in the Momoyama period (1573-1603). Rather than a box for carrying food, this box's shape is designed to contribute to the meal, allowing the eater to experience the bento with all five senses.

(Tankuma Kitamise)

The photo depicts a Haru-no-hangetsu (half-moon in springtime) bento. Dashi-maki tamago (Japanese-style rolled omelets), nasu dengaku (miso-glazed eggplant), skewers with red konjac, green chili and chidori anpei (rice cakes of varying sizes and shapes coated with red bean paste), sea bream and tuna sashimi (raw strips of fish meat), cooked Japanese butterbur, yuba (tofu skin), and sea bream eggs, mushroom rice and tree bud onigiri. Also includes sesame tofu, desserts, and miso soup.

The Shokado Bento

There is the Shokado bento, inspired by the partitioned paintboxes that Shokado Shojo, a monk and painter of the early Edo period (1603-1867), used regularly. The food that goes inside these bento varies according to the season and the occasion, but the food is always beautiful to look at as well as delicious to taste.

The upper left of the box contains a mushroom and chrysanthemum ohitashi (boiled vegetables in a bonito-flavored soy sauce). To the right are some tamagoyaki, roasted fish, and boiled lotus roots.

In the lower left is a boiled dish of carrots, taro, and Koya tofu. The rice is mixed with beans and shaped like a folding fan, and include some tsukemono (pickled vegetables). The meal also includes suimono (clear soup).