When I started living again in Japan after spending more than 10 years outside the country, selling people in the park eating bento boxes was something quite new to my eyes. I knew and understood there is a culture of making bento boxes and going on picnics, hiking, or taking trips. But since I haven’t seen it for a long time, I felt so new, almost feeling weird. Because everyone does it, especially hiking and picnicking. 

Personally, I haven’t really made bento boxes until my daughter needed them. Everyday now, she brings bento boxes to school. People are so surprise when I say I make bento box everyday, as I was always surprise when I hear from someone, but now, I make bento box in 30 minutes, not just because I am a cooking teacher, but just becoming so efficient to save some leftover food from a day before, precook dishes when I have time, and buying groceries that useful for bento box so that I can sleep a bit longer. By the way, “Bento”, 弁当 in Kanji means, “convenience” or “efficient.”

Today was my first online bento box cooking class. One of my guests a couple years ago joined my in person class in my studio. She used to live in Kyoto from the age of 3 to 10. She will be a mother soon, so she wants to make a bento box for her child. I had so much fun cooking and chatting together. 

The first picture is the one we made, karaage, tamagoyaki, spinach with sesame seeds, carrot with tuna, and okaka-gohan (bonito flakes flake with seasoned nori seaweed rice). A good benefit of cooking at home is that we can use good seasonings and oil we choose. And we have a saying in Japanese that “We all eat with our first.” It is pleasant seeing all colors in a small box with unique textures and flavors.