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Eating in Japan: Bento



Bento is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables as a side dish. Containers range from disposable mass produced to hand crafted lacquerware. Although bento are easily available in many places throughout Japan, including convenience stores, bento shops, train stations, and department stores, it is still common for Japanese homemakers to spend considerable time and energy producing an appealing boxed lunch.

Bento can be very elaborately arranged. Contests are often held where homemakers can compete for the most aesthetically pleasing arrangements. The food is decorated to look like people, animals, or characters and items such as flowers and plants. This style of elaborate bento is called kyaraben.

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