Everyone knows beautiful presentation makes a meal so much better. It’s why so many of us shamelessly take to our socials whenever we sit down for a gram-worthy meal. I’m guilty of it; you’re probably guilty of it too! There’s no shame in loving beautifully presented food. In fact, I’m rather obsessed with the matter.

My foodie obsession always leads me right to Japan. Known for their craftsmanship, Japanese people turn daily activities like skincare and eating into rituals, nurturing every moment with mindfulness, love, and appreciation for what they’re doing.


The Japanese version of a lunchbox, called bento, is one such art that requires love, effort, and patience to make.

Popularised in the Western world through anime series and movies like the Studio Ghibli Collection, bento stems from the Edo period in Japan. First, bento was packed in lacquered wooden lunchboxes, filled with various bits like dumplings, onigiri, and salmon for folks to share amongst themselves with cups of tea under shady trees.


This version of bento then developed into a new style of lunchbox called ekiben meant for individual consumption for folks on the go. A traditional ekiben style bento includes rice or noodles with fish or meat, with a selection of pickled or cooked veggies for a healthy, balanced meal.

Since then, the bento box has spread to other regions of the world and has been adapted to fit modern diets across the map while still maintaining the crux of a traditional bento: a varied, delicious, beautifully presented meal.


Let’s take to Tik Tok for some inspiration to make our own bento boxes:


Tonkatsu bento for my besties 💕 #tonkatsu #bento #easylunch #lunchbox #bentobox #japanesefood #tamagoyaki #lunchideas

♬ DARARI – ︎ ondu

Bento boxes first started as a way for Japanese folks on the go to eat balanced diets. Having a healthy amount of carbs, protein, and veg in your lunchbox is your healthiest and best choice. There are thousands of healthy bento ideas on Tik Tok, including vegan options.

The real trick to making a bento box special is presentation. Taking the time to pack a cute lunchbox for your kids or loved ones is worth it! There’s actually a word for a bento made with love in Japan; it’s called aisai.


Spririted away themed bento box #studioghibli #bento #spiritedaway #noface #letsmakesomelunchformykids

♬ original sound – Jessica Woo

It’s not realistic to expect ourselves to pack beautifully ornate bentos for our loved ones and ourselves every day, but if you’ve grown a bit bored of your usual lunch, or you would like to grow a better appreciation for your food and the time it takes to prepare it, starting with something as simple and fun as a bento box. It’ll put a smile on someone’s face!

Written by Savanna Douglas

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Feature Image: Unsplash