Bento is a single-portion takeout or
home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento
consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked
vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container. Containers range from
disposable mass produced to hand crafted lacquerware.
Left: A typical
Although bento are readily available in many places
throughout Japan, including convenience stores, bento shops,
train stations, and department stores, it is still common for Japanese
homemakers to spend time and energy for their spouse, child, or themselves
producing a carefully prepared lunch box.
Bento can be very elaborately arranged in a style called kyaraben. Contests are
often held where bento arrangers compete for the most aesthetically pleasing
arrangements. Kyaraben is typically decorated to look like people, animals, or
characters and items such as flowers and plants.
There are similar forms of boxed lunches in the Philippines (Baon), Korea
(Dosirak), Taiwan (Biandang), and India (Tiffin).