Bento Contest part 1 – How to interpret the rules?


Now the Top 10 bentos have been announced and the voting is being done, I send my congratulations and good luck to the Top 10 participants, and I send 3C (consolation, compassion and courage) to you who could not make Top 10.  At the same time as I stretch my hand to pat your shoulder, I went back to the photo album of all the participating bentos and looked through all of them again at least three times.  Then again I thought I saw something. Something that convinced me to pick some of your bentos as example and build a positive place to learn and grow. This blog post will be a part 1 of the total of 3 blog posts about the bento contest. What I write here is totally my own personal views and it has nothing to do with the official judgement done by the contest organizer and the team of experts.


First, I would like to talk about the contest rules.

Before the announcement of a bento contest is announced, I am most anxious to know the theme. I do many virtual trials in advance assuming the theme of the contest would be this and that. One day I was doing my training (in my mind) under one random virtual theme for a contest and realized none of my bento boxes were appropriate (I have 44 of them…) for the planned creation!! The theme of a contest works like rules sometimes and limit your range of your creation. But that is why it is interesting. In trying to create something new within the limited frame, one will be tested until we find a way out. 

This year’s Bento & co’s contest, there were 2 major requirements.

Contest’s theme : 2 main requirements   (from Bento & co’s blog)
This year we wanted to be more specific and more demanding on the theme.
– You will have to prepare by yourself an appetizing bento in a lunch box
   (tupperware is ok too) with 1 or 2 tiers/containers.
And the bento have to include at least 2 onigiri.   

My tips for you is to read the rules very very well. Read them at least 5 times, or until you find the things behind the requirements. Did you read the words like “specific” “demanding” and “appetizing”? Compared to the themes (rules) in previous years, it was more “specific” yes. But if you go on and read it carefully, you see there was a free zone there in the requirements that look so specific. The minimum number of onigiri was 2 but it also means you can make 5 or 10 or 100 if you like. The maximum tier was 2 but there was no size restrictions. Even tupperwares were ok. (I love this generosity of Bento & co) This free zone in the specific rules is where we will find “demanding”. That is the key to make your presentation look good. And I thought myself bentos which are “well balanced” in the “demanding” free zone will do well this year.

Last night I counted and found that 96 participants out of 237 chose to use 1 tier/container and 141 chose 2 tiers/containers for the contest. There were some unclear ones so please allow some difference. Take the Top 10 bentos this year, 7 finalists use 2 boxes and 3 use a single box.  Although there was no restriction for the size of the box and many participants chose to use a large box like Ojyu bento box, generally speaking placing 2 or more onigiris and some other food (let’s call it OKAZU)  all together in 1 regular lunch box can be a tough choice. And even more demanding if you remember the word “appetizing”.  I wonder if that was the reason why more people decided to use 2 boxes for this contest. As I was going through all the bentos I found some people who challenged this tough choice and are showing a good and peaceful balance in 1 box and their composition and presentation were very nice.  It is my opinion that the following bentos deserve to be praised even though they did not make Top 10. Let’s give them a big hand!!

Very very good balance between Onigiris and Okazu. 
Good colors and shape, an original way of
using Nori on her onigiris. 
Look at this photo. Everything in this box is showing itself. Do you see it? 
It is not so easy to achieve it. Nice colors and interesting bento picks!
I would never think of this composition in an Ojyu bento box.
It is almost a presentation in 3D. Bravo!

Good balance, a peaceful photo that leaves a strong impression. 
His onigiris were the most appetizing onigiri in the whole contest to my eyes.
It looks so APPETIZING!!!


Continue to Part 2

xx Rie


10 thoughts on “Bento Contest part 1 – How to interpret the rules?

  1. Rie san,
    I am so happy and lucky to be in your blog!! Thank you so much for your precious opinion with me.Thank you for everything!!
    Lots of love from Hongkong,
    Naomi 😀

  2. Hi Rie,
    I was very careful in choosing my ingredients and avoid processed food. I went for fresh, seasonal & colourful ones. I was also careful with the cooking technique and opt not to fried any of the food.

  3. Dear Corinne, thank you for posting
    your comment and I am glad you read
    this blog. Although you did not make
    Top 10, I think you have a nice bento.
    Please continue making bentos and you
    will win the contest one day!

    Just a little advise if I may.
    What is the blue little thing on the
    left hand side in Okazu part? If I may
    suggest you, it will be much better
    if you take that out and put one more
    carrot flower or even the sakura
    This sakura flower on your onigiri
    is really nice
    and I like it a lot.

    Also the bento picks are very cute.
    It will be much better if the nori and
    the picks are lying in the same
    Do you see what I mean?
    It will look a little cleaner in the

    Good luck with your next bento contest!!

    Warm greetings,


  4. Rie-san Thanks you for the highlights for the photography itself. “The blue thing” is laughing cow cheese. Don't you have it Norway? It was part of the okazus, but I should have put more vegies or fruit! i'll know know.Thanks. A lot!!

  5. Corinne, thank you for your reply.
    Oh, it was a laughing cow cheese!
    Yes yes I do have it here, actually
    it is my favorite. Mine is a triangle
    and not blue, so sorry I could not
    recognize it.

    I actually put that cheese very often,
    if you have time, look at my bento
    album to find many examples of such
    bento. Of course you can put a wrapped
    cheese or two in your bento! It tastes
    great! and I also love it!
    I was talking about the color theme.
    I just thought another carrot flower
    which you showed us your great skill to
    make would be a nice item to put

    Anyway, I am glad we could carry
    this conversation about bento
    together. Thanks Corrine.

  6. Hello Rie,
    Thank you so much to have put me on your blog. I'm so flattered and your compliment just makes my day 🙂
    Actually, I didn't really expect to win anything with me bento because I knew it was far too classic. Being in the top10 would have been a miracle haha.
    I am glad I can now follow you on your blog ! Thanks for sharing and have a good day ^^


  7. Hi Steve,
    Thanks for visiting and leaving your
    comment!! 🙂
    I just could not help mentioning a few words
    about your bento as it really left a deep impression.
    I am glad to meet you and your blog, too.
    I will be in Paris this weekend and will have a
    small meeting on Saturday near the shop you bought
    your Onigiri mix. Will you come??

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