Sunday, November 23, 2008

Great Little Story About Bento From The Perspective Of The Bento Receiver

I cannot dream of growing up without the 'Obento' (lunch box). Each kid brings an Obento to ‘Yochien’ (kindergarten). Everyday my mom made such pretty Obentos for me and my sister to take to school.
In Kindergarten if you have a bad Obento, or one that is not so pretty looking, you usually get picked on. Therefore, mothers put lots of effort into making the prettiest looking Obento ever for their children. Their weekday starts around 6 am preparing lunch for kids and husbands with leftovers.

In public grammar schools, lunch is provided, so moms have a little break from having to make competition worthy Obentos every morning. But whenever kids have a field trip to go, mothers rise to the occasion where their skills of Obento making come to life. Most kids look forward to fieldtrips not only for where they’re going, but also for the delicacies that await them in their Obento.

I went to private school (junior high & high) for 6 years, where they do not provide school lunches, so Mom always made me Obento during that time. In the entire 6 years I can only remember a few days when she could not make me one! The Obento was a means for us to communicate. Sometime I intentionally left my Obento at home because mom and I had fights over small things. Sometimes Mom would make me the ugliest Obento on purpose because she was very upset with me. Often it was better than writing a letter.

Obento sometimes reveals what goes on in everyone’s family. Students eat in the classroom. They move their desks into small groups of students who have similar types of Obento. It's like an Obento class system. The split goes something like this. There are working mom Obentos which include a can of tuna or convenience store bread. There are spoiled brat Obentos that have the elaborate specialty foods. Then there are wealthy but neglected class of Obentos which means no Obento just money to buy whatever they want (in a Gucci wallet). Finally there are the 'otonashii' (very shy kids) Obentos, who have way too much food and usually not too many friends.

By: Kaoruko Hill