Evolving from a fad to be BENTO

Bento Marathon 5

No.111

This is my 5th and the last post of the blog marathon for now, I hope I am not tiring you out of reading everyday, my nerdiness of blog posting might be there but I hope I am not on the way to becoming a bento hypergraphia by all means.

2 days ago I wrote “Bento outside Japan has come to the point to start developing its own style” and I like to probe deeper into this today.

There are several reasons why I emphasize it, the increase of both awareness of bento and its enthusiasts is the main reason and even this little blog of mine is showing it has been viewed by people in 25 different countries in the world since the start 1 week ago.  It seems many of my readers are in France and USA but I get so thrilled to see countries like Brunei, Jordan, Israel, Brazil, Barbados on the list of top views by country. Wow, our beloved bento IS spreading! While I pray the spreading phase will continue, I see it is integrating deeper into people’s hearts and daily life in many countries. Some countries are more advanced than others, so called character bento is very popular in many asian countries (I wonder if they will take over the Japanese “Kawaii” bento culture in some years as the birthrate in Japan continue to decline), in France, specifically in Paris, which is said to be the mecca of bento outside Japan, there are bento restaurants and bento schools, the word BENTO is now a french word. I see many bento blogs and books from USA and I believe there are so many things bento can contribute to ordinary American people’s diet to make it healthier.

The increase of awareness is also happening in Japan, they are more and more aware of that their own meal style is expanding abroad. I think this we owe Bento&co a lot. I say this not because I like them very much but because it is fair to say so. If you have been following their coverage in Japanese media you know how much PR they have done in Japan for our bento growing outside Japan. Thanks to their reports and hard work, Japanese people are more aware of the trend. I am still in some bento circles and clubs in Japan and often get questions about the status quo of bento in Europe. I try to explain what I observe and I can tell you they are very happy to hear about you.

Rie_221dfc79-d445-4ead-a19b-8d755c961bda_large

I hope this tendency will continue in both in Japan and outside Japan and long live, Bento! Bento has not problem to survive in Japan as it is a part of their life and soul, but I hope it won’t die out just a short-life fad in foreign countries. Bento is so closely associated with our essential need and healthy life style, that is something many people are interested wherever they live? and I really wish bento would become a future mainstay in many countries. As food is a so daily and fundamental thing it should be genuinely accepted and adopted in the local land. If I may adopt a term definition of 弁当, the Japanese word for bento, to mean by the Japanese meal in bento box in the mother land Japan including its history and culture associated with it, whereas BENTO is the exported form of Japanese bento including its fast-growing trend outside Japan, we are on the right course of evolving from 弁当 to BENTO adding our own features and understanding into the development. Please take a look at these bentos.

Aurelie Valentine

Marie Valentinee

Aurelie (above) and Marie’s bento on Velentine’s Day 2014.

These bentos were made by 2 lovery ladies from France. When I saw their bentos for the first time I was very impressed and happy. Later I wanted to share this happiness with others and we together started a project called “Collaboration Bento”. Especially I was very curious to see the Japanese people’s reaction. How will they say? Do they know where bento is at in Europe now? Reactions varied. Some were very impressed by the level and surprised to see the so uniquely different style, I may have chosen a bit too dramatic examples of their bento showcase but I think it was successful as an eye opener and an ice breaker. Most of the people I showed these bentos mentioned about the different way of using colors in bento. Well, people in france are known to be good at colors (Merci, monsieur Yves Saint-Laurent!) they are maybe more bold to use colors. As the traditional cooking of Japan is based on dark-color seasonings like soy sauce or miso, it tends to make their bento dark. I think colors are the definite feature and difference of bento abroad and I am looking forward to finding many more special features.

One day I like to go back and write this as my thesis. It is my dream. I don’t know if my dream will ever be realized one day, but if it really did it would be wonderful.
Dr. of Bento Ethonology, quite something, isn’t it?

Rie

 

 

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