bento item spotlight

Great bento box makers: Shibata Yoshinobu Shoten in Odate, Akita, Japan

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Last year, I visited the workshop of Shibata Yoshinobu Shoten, one of the most renowned makers of magewappa (bent wood) bento boxes and other items in Japan. Here, finally, is my report. continue reading...

Bento box review: The Idea bento box may just be the ideal bento box

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A review of a very versatile bento box that’s especially good for bento beginners. continue reading...

Great bento box makers: A visit to Hakoya in Ishikawa, Japan

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In April, I had the opportunity to pay a visit to one of my favorite Japanese bento box makers, Hakoya. Here’s my report, with lots of eye candy for bento box lovers! continue reading...

Looking at thermal bento sets and lunch jars

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Do you like the idea of bentos, but not the idea of eating cold food all the time for lunch? Or maybe you just yearn for some hot soup in the winter months, but you don’t have access to a microwave at lunchtime. A thermal bento set or lunch jar could be just what you need. But which one? continue reading...

2010 Holiday Gift Guide For Bento Fans Part 3: above $50

xmas-onigiri2.pngWelcome to the 3rd and final part of the 2010 Holiday Gift Guide for bento fans! In Part 1 we covered under-$10 gifts, and in Part 2 we looked at gifts in the $10-50 range. Now it’s time to look at gifts for that really special bento person in your life - including yourself!

I had a bit of a hard time putting together this list actually (which is why it took some time to post). At first I was going to recommend some bento-friendly appliances, such as a nice rice cooker. But I did that kind of thing in my original Holiday Gift Guide 3 years ago. So, this time I am going to concentrate on the pure indulgences - high end bento boxes, sets and other stuff. I know, I have said time and time again on these pages that you can do bentos with inexpensive, practical plastic containers - and you can, and should start out with those until you’re sure bento-ing is for you. But just as you might want to indulge in a beautiful dinnerware set from Wedgewood or Royal Copenhagen or something, you might want to splurge on one special bento box. After all, a special bento box is something a lot more intimate than a for-company-only dinnerware. Or how about this; think of a special bento box as a treat for yourself (or your favorite bento person), like a set of really nice silk lingerie instead everyday cotton underpants. continue reading...

2010 Holiday Gift Guide For Bento Fans Part 2: $10-$50

xmas-onigiri3.pngWelcome to part 2 of the 2010 Holiday Gift Guide for bento fans! In Part 1 we covered $10-and-under stocking stuffers.

This time, we get the the price range where you can pick up a serious, high quality bento box and more. Selecting individual bento boxes is really a matter of individual taste, so I’ve selected a few that caught my eye for various reasons.




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Bento box spotlight: Light My Fire, LunchBots, Rosti Mepal

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Hi everyone! I am still in hospital, but am feeling a lot better and spending most of my day sitting up instead of lying like a sad floppy seal in bed. And most of all, I have my laptop and internet access! I can’t post much in the way of bentos and recipes until I get out, but I do have some things that I was working on before I had to have my emergency surgery.

These days, there are some great dedicated sellers of Japanese bento boxes that can be relied upon to bring you the best of what is available in Japan (see the sidebar for some of the best, who are also smart enough to sponsor JustBento ^_^.) Still, I do like to keep an eye out for non-traditional boxes and containers that can be used for bentos. Here are three such boxes. continue reading...

Where (and how) to buy bento boxes and accessories

(Originally published in April 2008, and updated continuously since. Last updated March 2011.)

A very frequently asked question is where and how to buy the bento items and boxes mentioned here, especially in the Bento Item Spotlight (formerly Bento Item of the Week) feature, as well as on other bento blogs and sites. I’ve listed you several options, which I hope will be useful.

Look locally first

As much as I love online shopping, I believe in shopping at your local stores first. You’re supporting your area’s businesses, and you don’t have to pay shipping costs. Besides, it’s arguably a bit better for the environment (especially if you take public transportation!) since the goods have already travelled to your area.

You might argue, “but I don’t have any stores near me that sell bento stuff!” I don’t either. But it’s always possible to find alternatives for lunch boxes, dividers, picks and other accessories. As I wrote in one of the earliest articles on this site, it’s not necessary to buy a box that is labeled as a Bento Box in order to bring bento lunches. You can use cupcake cups, paper or silicon, as bento dividers, picnic utensils, and so on. Check out the Bento Gear Flickr pool for a lot of creative ideas from fellow bento enthusiasts. continue reading...