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What Is Bento Box?

Last Updated on February 25, 2024 by Lauren Beck

One of Japan’s long-standing culinary traditions, the bento meal has gained worldwide recognition in recent times. This well-balanced and tasty meal is typically arranged in portable bento boxes, making it a convenient option for those who are constantly on the move. In this article, we will delve into the origins and evolution of the bento box, the various designs available, and provide tips on how to put together your own bento lunch.

What Is Bento?

Bento is a Japanese meal that typically consists of rice, fish or meat, and a variety of vegetables. It is usually packed into a bento box, which is a portable container that can be easily carried and eaten on the go. Bento boxes can be made with a variety of ingredients and can be as simple or as elaborate as you like.

The History of the Bento Box

Bento boxes have a long and fascinating history in Japan. The first bento boxes were made in the 5th century and were used to carry food during long journeys or outdoor activities. Over time, bento boxes became more elaborate and were used to display the culinary skills of the person making the bento.

Where Did Bento Come From?

Bento originated in Japan [1], but similar meals can be found in other Asian countries such as Korea and Taiwan. The word “bento” comes from the Japanese word “obento,” which means “boxed lunch.” Bento boxes have become popular all over the world and are now a common sight in many countries.

What Are the Different Bento Styles?

There are many different styles of bento boxes, each with their own unique features and designs. Some of the most popular styles include:

  • Traditional Japanese bento boxes, which are typically made of wood or lacquer and feature intricate designs.
  • Modern bento boxes, which are often made of plastic or stainless steel and come in a variety of colors and designs.
  • Character bento boxes, which feature popular cartoon characters and are often used for children’s lunches.
  • DIY bento boxes, which allow you to create your own unique bento box design.

How Do I Assemble a Bento?

preparing a bento box

Assembling a bento box is easy and can be done in just a few simple steps:

  1. Start with a base of rice or noodles.
  2. Add a protein source such as fish or meat.
  3. Add a variety of vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, and seaweed.
  4. Garnish with herbs or sauces.

Where Can I Buy a Bento Box?

Bento boxes can be found at many Japanese specialty stores or online retailers. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials to suit your needs.

What Are the Main Types of Japanese Bento?

There are many different types of Japanese bento boxes, each with their own unique features and ingredients. Some of the most popular types include:

  • Onigiri bento, which features rice balls filled with various ingredients.
  • Makunouchi bento, which features a variety of small dishes and is often eaten during intermissions at theaters or concerts.
  • Katsu bento, which features breaded and fried meat or fish.

How to Make Your Own Bento Lunch?

Making your own bento lunch is easy and can be a fun way to experiment with different ingredients and flavors. Here are a few tips to get started:

  1. Start with a base of rice or noodles.
  2. Add a protein source such as tofu, chicken, or fish.
  3. Add a variety of vegetables such as cucumber, avocado, or carrots.
  4. Add some flavor with sauces or herbs.

Tips for Making a Bento Box

Here are a few tips to help you make the perfect bento box:

  1. Choose ingredients that are easy to pack and won’t spoil quickly.
  2. Use a variety of colors and textures to make your bento box visually appealing.
  3. Pack your bento box tightly to prevent the food from shifting during transport.
  4. Use sauce containers to keep sauces and dressings separate from the other ingredients.

What Does Japanese Bento Taste Like?

Japanese bento boxes are known for their delicious and balanced flavors. They often feature a mix of salty, sweet, and umami flavors. The rice provides a neutral base that complements the other ingredients, while the vegetables and proteins add texture and flavor.


Bento boxes are a delicious and nutritious way to enjoy a meal on the go. They have a rich history in Japan and have become popular all over the world. With a variety of styles and ingredients to choose from, bento boxes offer endless possibilities for delicious and creative meals. Whether you buy a pre-made bento box or make your own, bento boxes are sure to satisfy your taste buds and keep you fueled for the day.


Lauren Beck
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