The History Behind The Bento Box

The Bento Box has been a part of Japanese culture since very early on, evolving over time and becoming known worldwide over centuries. The Japanese who first came to use the bento box concept were 5th-century farmers, hunters, and warriors who rose early and had to pack their lunch to take with them that day. They first started using farm seedboxes and filled the container with rice, fish, and vegetables or foods that could be left at room temperature and not spoil. It was also a convenient way to incorporate a well-balanced meal into your busy workday. As the popularity of bento boxes grew among the working class the concept began to spread to other parts of the world like China, Korea, and the Philippines to name a few.

Bento Signify’s Convenience

The word bento was derived from the Southern Song Dynasty and is short for the term biandana ( which means convenient). While the very first bento boxes were made of lacquered wood and basket material,  as the popularity of these little boxes continued to grow they eventually started making aluminum boxes during the Taisho period that began in 1912. This turned worker class lunches into a luxury lunch when placed in aluminum boxes.

As the centuries have passed bento boxes, have grown into a very prevalent and trendy staple all over the world and especially so in the United States. In 1990 Kyraben or character Bentos was created and became a popular staple among children. Parents like these character boxes and the general idea of a bento box to pack their children’s lunch in because it appeals to their children and also is convenient and boasts a well-balanced meal. Afterall with the evolution of the bento box and the fact that it is used in many cultures throughout the world, the boxes that once consisted of more Japanese based fare like rice, fish, and veggies are now filled with different cuisine from all over the world.  You can also now find bento boxes in train stations, at restaurants and even in stores selling Okazu or side dishes, to full meals.

Bento boxes offer a balanced meal because they offer pre-portioned containers so that you are able to incorporate different food groups and with the right portion size. Most bento boxes are equipped to pack 40% starch, 30% meat/fish/protein, and 30% vegetables. But like we said the great thing about bento boxes these days is that you are able to fill them with the perfect selection of food for you!