The Bento Box
Bento boxes are a Japanese style packed lunch, and have been a part of Japanese culture for hundreds of years. Only in the last decade or so have they made it across the oceans, and become a popular feast in the west.
Whilst some people like to pack their food simply and quickly, others have taken their bento-making hobby and made it into an art form. This highly decorative style of bento is often called dekoben, and has become so popular that there are hundreds of blogs dedicated to it. People get hugely competitive to see who can make the cutest/craziest/most colourful bento!
Some of the first bento blogs I found are still my favourites today: JustBento has a fantastic collection of links to online bento supply shops, as well as an entertaining blog which is packed full of information.
Hapa bento is the first site I came across which really made me want to make bento boxes myself. There are countless inspiring pictures of delicious food, all presented perfectly, and each one has a list of what went in the box! They also run competitions which many of the other prominent bento bloggers take part in, so it’s a great place to find new bento-bloggers to follow.
Bento zen is also a huge source of inspiration for me, not just for bento but also for photography. The bentos are exquisite, with amazing decorations. And on top of this, they have been photographed in a little scene with accessories, patterned background paper and a perfect shooting angle. Anybody even remotely interested in food should take a look at Bento zen!
Adventures in Bento Making
Another inspirational blog for bento is Adventures in Bento Making. This blog really gives a sense of community, which is why I like it so much. As a blog, it is a very personal insight into a life full of bento, and as such is really enjoyable to read. On top of this, there are plenty of recipe ideas to look at, competitions to enter and lots of fellow readers to talk to.
One of the most interesting additions to the bento online community is the Bento4Japan effort. This was set up in mid-March of this year to help raise funds after the Japan disaster. So far, in just two weeks they have raised over $2500, which is heart-warming to see. Bento4Japan offers online auctions of bento-related items, raffles for those living in Europe who donate and also has many suggestions on how else you can raise money with bento.
There are so many bento blogs out there to draw inspiration from, but I’ve found the ones above to be the blogs I keep coming back to, time after time, to look at recipes and beautifully presented food.