Japanese Lunches

We’ve been living in Japan for so long now (this August will be ten full years) that I tend to forget what might seem interesting to people who don’t live here.  Everything just feels normal and usual to me now.  But, today as I was making the kids lunches for school, it struck me that the lunches my kids eat are pretty different from the sandwich, fruit, and veggie ones that my mom packed for me in a brown paper bag or (in my younger years) my Bionic Woman lunch pail with the cool matching thermos. 

Japanese lunches (called bentos) are usually comprised of rice, meat or eggs, veggies, seaweed, and fruit, all packed in a very small (by American standards) cute little lunch box that is totally different than anything I’ve seen in America.  Some Japanese moms go all out and totally decorate their kids’ lunches with wieners cut like octopuses, hard-boiled eggs cut like flowers, and apple slices cut to look like bunny rabbits.  They also use special craft punches and scissors to cut dried seaweed into special shapes to make faces, messages, or other decorations.  (Check out some photos of amazing Japanese bentos here.) 

My kids, however, have to live with a very Joe-basic version of a Japanese bento.  Hopefully they won’t be scarred for life and have to go through years of counseling to undo the damage, but since none of the other kids in their school have super fancy bentos they probably don’t know the difference! 🙂  Here are a couple of pictures so you can see what our kids eat for lunch on the days they go to school.  Austin and Ethan’s lunch boxes are double-decker style and Katie’s is the cute yellow one with the bananas on it.  Check out the interesting Japanese English decorating the lid of Katie’s bento box. 🙂


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