Bento Boxes are an achievement in form and purpose. They embody a concept of functional beauty that is present everywhere in Japanese culture.
The boxes are simple. They are made from light wood or plastic, divided into easy-to-use compartments, and lacquered red or black. Some have cherry blossom designs or other Japanese symbols painted on them.
Although the Bento Box is aesthetically pleasing on the outside, it is the contents of a Bento Box which give the ultimate pleasure. Each edible comes in its own compartment, and the contents come together to form a unique meal. This is the core concept of the Bento Box, the merging of many into one. The Bento Box is a sophisticated system that exhibits each dish to its best advantage.
The functional beauty of the Bento Box reflects a Japanese aesthetic. The spatial organization of the lunchbox greatly resembles that of Japanese towns and villages. Tokyo has a complex packaging of neighborhoods reminiscent of a lunchbox pattern. The layout of Japanese homes is also simple and angular.
Bento Boxes are available in any local Japanese restaurant. Most of us know them as combo A, B or C. The next time you order Lunchbox A, look beyond the rice, the raw fish and the tempura. This black box is a window into the heart and soul of Japan.