The bento box is more than just a lunch box. It’s a take-out or home-cooked meal container that has been used in Japan for centuries. Consisting of compartments of different sizes, a bento can be used for anything from work time lunches to quick meals while on the go. Though it only recently gained popularity in the United States, the bento box has a long and rich history that began across the sea. Read on to learn about bento box history in Japan!
The idea of a portable Japanese meal originated during the Kamakura period, which extended from 12th to 14th century Japan. At this time, people discovered that you could cook and dry rice into something called hoshi-ii.
Fast forward a couple of centuries. Craftspeople started making beautifully lacquered boxes to hold and transport food from one place to another. Other types of vessels were experimented with, from bamboo leaves to aluminum containers, but wood has always been the most traditional.