First Anniversary Giveaway Day 2, with bento memories

This is the second day of the week long giveaway party to celebrate the first anniversary of Just Bento, as well as the fifth anniversary of Just Hungry. (The first day of Just Bento’s part is here.) While over on Just Hungry I’m looking back at the first five years of the site, here I’d like to go even further back in time, and talk about some memorable bentos from my past. (If you want to skip ahead, today’s giveaway is at the bottom.)

Raw carrot flowers

My mother was always busy while I was growing up - she was often working, or had my younger sisters to worry about. Nevertheless she always made me an obento every day when I needed one. But sometimes, she’d forget to put in something.

I don’t know why I still remember this, but when I was 5 years old and in kindergarten, I opened my little pink bento box to find it full of rice topped with beautifully cut carrot flowers…and nothing else. I looked in my bag for another container, and found nothing. On top of that, the carrot flowers were raw! I still remember picking one up with my matching pink chopsticks, and the awful taste (to a 5 year old) of those hard carrot pieces. Soon I was crying, my heart full of despair. How could my mother do this to me? My kind kindergarten teacher took me aside, assessed the situation, and gave me some of her okazu (sides) to eat with my plain rice, which I ate while still sobbing.

My young mother had forgotten to put in the okazu, and hadn’t known that she was supposed to cook the carrot flowers! She’d seen a picture of them in a magazine without instructions, and in the busy household in a small town in Saitama prefecture where she’d grown up, they didn’t have time to cut carrots into fancy shapes.

A bento box full of gyoza

After my first year of kindergarten, the whole family moved to England and then the U.S. for several years. Once back in Japan, I had school lunch in elementary school, but once I got to middle school (junior high school) I needed bentos again. By this time my mother had a job, not to mention another child, but she still managed to make me an obento every morning. They weren’t fancy or pretty like those of some of my classmates, but they were always delicious. I still remember the bentos of my school years with a lot of fondness.

One day, I opened my very unfeminine no-nonsense aluminum bento box to find it full of plump gyoza dumplings. I think there were a dozen in there. They were lined on the bottom with…a raw cabbage leaf. There was nothing else — my mother had forgotten to pack the rice! My 14 year old self didn’t burst into tears, but did find it a bit strange. I traded a few of the dumplings with my friends for some of their rice, which worked out fine.

When I got home, I quizzed my mother about my gyoza-only bento. She admitted that she had indeed, forgotten the rice. Then I asked her about the raw cabbage leaf. She stared at me, and then at the nearly-empty bento box, and exclaimed, “but I thought it was lettuce!”

memorybento1.jpg

If you combine the two missing-parts bentos separated by 9 years, I think it makes a rather decent bento. But I did cook the carrot flowers!

And now….on to today’s giveaway!

The rules again

Full information is in the Just Hungry post, but the important bits:

This giveaway is open to everyone, regardless of where you live, as long as you can receive mail!

Your comment must contain the following, or your entry will be disqualified:

  • Your email address - put this in the Email box so that spambots can’t see it. The email is necessary so I can contact you if you win!
  • Your name (a nickname is ok)
  • Your location (country)
  • You can enter/comment for all giveaways if you want, but one item per comment please!
  • Your comment must be posted before the stated deadline.

Note: None of the following items is a review copy, advertising freebie, etc. They are all items that I have duplicates or similar of myself and have used and loved!

Delivery: I’ll airmail you the item if you win ASAP, but I cannot guarantee you’ll get in time for Christmas.

Just Bento Giveaway Item 2: Shinzi Katoh Ringo Bento Accessories and Kyarappa cutter set

shinzikatohstuff.jpg

Even if you are as busy as my mom was, you can still make your kids’, or your own, bento lunches pretty with the items in today’s giveaway. Maybe your kids will remember the bento lunches you make for them when they are adults, and embarass you with old stories too!

Shinzi Katoh’s Ringo (Apple) bento accessories are too cute for words, and the Kyarappa (Charappa) food cutter set will have you making kawaii onigiri with eyes and limbs in no time.

You’ll get 2 furikake shakers (you could use them as salt/peppers too), 2 sets of sauce containers, a set of tiny food containers, and the Kyarappa cutter set of 3, which comes with a recipe pamphlet in Japanese.

Please note that the Ringo accessories are not dishwasher safe. They should be washed carefully, since the faces can get rubbed off (as with many Shinzi Katoh bento accessories). The Kyarappa cutter package recommends handwashing too.

DEADLINE: Your comment/entry must be posted before Midnight Greenwich Mean Time on Friday, December 5th.

This giveaway is now closed. Thanks for entering, and check the front page for the giveaways that are still open! The winner will be announced next week! Good luck!

For more bento recipes, ideas and tips, subscribe to Just Bento via your newsreader or by email (more about subscriptions).

And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.

416 comments

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Cute!

My mom didn’t make me lunches until high school because I hated what served in the cafeteria. The only ok options in the cafe were chicken nuggets or pizza. No salad bar, the teachers got to it before I did. We also only had 20 minutes for lunch and the lines were extremely long so. I had no choice other than to take a brown bag lunch or starve.

Oops, forgot to add I’m in

Oops, forgot to add I’m in the US.

Funny!

That’s really funny about the cabbage leaf…

-Ariel in the USA

Awww, that’s an adorable

Awww, that’s an adorable story. :) Elizabeth Friend, USA

cool stuff

I am excited for all these cool things. I hope I win. Damaris Palmer USA

awww what a cute story! now

awww what a cute story! now i want to go make some carrot flowers <3

kitti from Odessa, TX USA

:D -Andrea Gainesville, FL,

:D

-Andrea Gainesville, FL, USA

Cute :)

Nice post and nice accessories! Would love to use them :)

cordelia (NZ)

LOL, your poor overworked mother!

But sweet, nonetheless.

And the giveaway now makes me want a whole apple-themed bento set :)

kuzatab from San Francisco

Sooo cool!

I’m from Idaho Falls, ID

And ooohhhh

Sooo pretty!

Naomi

United States

I enjoyed reading your childhood stories, the bento you made looks yummy too!

Caitlin from Canada! (Also,

Caitlin from Canada!

(Also, that story about you as a five-year-old nearly made me cry! I’m not sure why… maybe something similar happened to me as a child, and I don’t remember. Poor little you! :( )

So Cute...

My son who is in second grade loves his bento. His friends and even the teachers are always trying to get a look to see what is on the menu that day. His favorite - oh so simple - PB & Jelly Sushi Rolls.

These accessories would add a whole new dimension and some fun in the New Year! Thanks
Dalyn Maryland, USA

Cool. I would love to win

Cool. I would love to win these. Thanks!

Beachcomber — USA

Bento cuteness!

Name: Carrie M. Country: USA

Happy Anniversary!

Name: KayDat Location:

Name: KayDat Location: Australia

Country: U.S. they look so

Country: U.S.

they look so cute! thanks for being so generous with your stuff, maki =]

Adoablest!

Those are too cute! Bento is so new to me,I Feequentlyforget things too! I felt for little 5 yr old you,and you mom.

Adoablest!

Those are too cute! Bento is so new to me,I Feequentlyforget things too! I felt for little 5 yr old you,and you mom.

Wonderful Giveaway!

Thank you so much for having these wonderful giveaways! These items are adorable! I really hope I win - it is fun to take cute and delicious lunches with me to work!

These would be my first cute

These would be my first cute accessories. I actually just usually use lock n’ lock containers back in the States, but that was a poor starving college student thing.

:)

Midknyt South Korea

how wonderful to see such

how wonderful to see such kindness!!! and cute accessories too :D Christine, Québec Canada

Ooh!

I love Shinzi Katoh things, but when I tried to order direct from his site I found that the shipping was ridiculously expensive. So I’m going to enter this draw!

I’m Kate, from Australia; congratulations on your anniversary!

I haven’t eaten raw

I haven’t eaten raw carrots [the big ones] since before I had braces. They’re really hard and I hated them as a child. XD

Nettles, Canada.

Those are adorable.

I love those; they’re adorable. Also, I’ve been reading your site for ages; thanks for all the ideas.

Emily, New York (USA)

US Kawaii-soooo!! That is

US

Kawaii-soooo!! That is the cutest little obento cutting set I’ve seen in the longest time! I need it! :) Can I win it please?! :)

I'll jump right in!

I love this site!

Kristen, USA

Cute

Congratulation on Just Bento’s first aniversary ^^

Tok, Wollongong (Australia)

Very cute! I’m located

Very cute!

I’m located in the US, by the way. :)

My mom didn’t do bentos,

My mom didn’t do bentos, but she did pack a lunch every day when I was a kid- they were boring and pretty much always the same thing. By high school my sister made the lunches, I made dinner and my brother would do whatever to fill in (he could cook as well). Once I opened my bag at lunch and discovered that there was a paper towel in my sandwich, and nearly a whole bottle of garlic salt dumped on my chips. I was so hungry that april 1st, and jealous of my brother who at least got a few dollars in his lunch bag full of paper towels.

I’ve been looking at those Katoh bento things, so cute. I’m in the US. Jocelyn

My mom didn’t do bentos,

My mom didn’t do bentos, but she did pack a lunch every day when I was a kid- they were boring and pretty much always the same thing. By high school my sister made the lunches, I made dinner and my brother would do whatever to fill in (he could cook as well). Once I opened my bag at lunch and discovered that there was a paper towel in my sandwich, and nearly a whole bottle of garlic salt dumped on my chips. I was so hungry that april 1st, and jealous of my brother who at least got a few dollars in his lunch bag full of paper towels.

I’ve been looking at those Katoh bento things, so cute. I’m in the US. Jocelyn

I’m surprised that you eat

I’m surprised that you eat rice with gyoza. I would have been quite content to eat a lunch of only dumplings! :)

  • S, USA

Super Fun

I have never joined in any of the giveaways offered on the blogs I follow until now. I entered the one yesterday too, how could I not these prizes are just too cool. Kate Hawaii (Kauai), USA

Happy Anniversary & Thank you for all the great recipes

We love your Just Bento site. We look up many of your recipes on Sunday and make our meals for the week… Congrats & Happy Anniversary!!

Love the apple theme!

The apple shapes are super cute and would definitely encourage me to make some fun bento lunches!

giveaway

Hello! I love your blog!

I live in NY, NY, USA.

Giveaway

Funny story! Cute bento!!

Eileen California, USA

Cool stuff

Wow these bento items are soo cute ! Lisa U.S.A.

The one and only time my

The one and only time my (very busy, working) mother packed an obento for me, she made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a thick stripe of cream cheese inside and, for good measure, a handful of roasted almonds scattered on top and inside the box. I think she thought all American teenagers ate such things…

Congratulations!

Tucson, Arizona, USA.

Wow… that’s… insane. Those have been on my bento wish list for about two years now.

Cute cute cute!! I loved

Cute cute cute!! I loved your stories, and I love all of your recipes. You’ve got a fan here in the United States! :)

Hehe, great story. My

Hehe, great story. My mother packed us lunches nearly every day from elementary school through high school, but they were always fairly simple— sandwiches, fruit, maybe a cookie and a juice box. Sometimes she ran out of lettuce and used slices of cucumber, which I HATED because it made the bread soggy.

United States sigh Forgot

United States

sigh Forgot to include my location in the earlier comment, sorry about that.

I was trying to remember if my mother had ever made a mistake with my lunch, but they were so basic that it would’ve been difficult to screw it up. ;D She did once give me my brother’s sandwich by mistake— PB&J, something I’ve never really liked, not even as a kid.

Win CA, USA AHHH!! How

Win CA, USA

AHHH!! How cute!

Win CA, USA AHHH!! How

Win CA, USA

AHHH!! How cute!

^_^

Name: Dina Location: Australia

happy anniv

Congratulations to you and hope you’ll go on for five years at least. Fossettes (from Paris, France)

Bento Giveaway

Aww, your story was so adorable. I wanted to give your five-year-old self a cuddle (but that would be weird because I’m a stranger).

I’m just getting into bentos, those accessories are just gorgeous!

Arsozah from Australia

Giveaway Day 2

I love your website! Rosemary Mullally Senegal

Sweet childhood memories

Love your lovely stories,

Sofie, Germany