The first bento

No. 157

This post is also available in Japanese はじめて作るお弁当


Now I have 2 blog sites, one is here in English and I started one in Japanese 4 days ago. To my happy surprise, my Japanese blog has been visited by more than 1,000 people in last 4 days. I was wondering where in the world these people were coming from?? It is always nice to get a good communication through blogs and today I received a wonderful comment from Canada! She is Anna, a Japanese girl studying there, and I want to share it with you :

Hello Rie-san (* ^^ *)
I am writing a comment for the first time. I am now in Canada studying at an University, soon my first year will end. The most painful thing to me in this first year was food. I really missed my Japanese food. I realized that my ordinary food I was eating in Japan was such a great treat and I did not know it until I left Japan and came here. I missed Japanese food so much that I lost weight in the beginning but now I have found delicious food here as well, I am very healthy! Lol

Recently I was looking at great food photos on Instagram and I found you! The food you create looks so beautiful and healthy, it is really amazing! Now I am living in the schools dormitory and can not cook as there is no kitchen attached in my room. But I will move into an apartment from this coming spring and I am looking forward to cooking. Then I will refer to your recipes♡

Your photos reminded me again bento is great! Thank you!


Thank you! I was so happy to receive such a nice comment! Maybe some of you may know I have 1 daughter, she is also an university student studying in the United States. As another Japanese-food-lover and as a mom, I could understand Anna’s feelings and her missing Japanese food. My daughter is in the senior year now but I remember she had the same problem in her first year. She then just realized that she had to cook it by herself if she wanted to eat something she liked. 3 1/2 years have passed and now my daughter is cooking and baking very much.

I think there are things you can only see when you leave your home nest and take a look at it from outside. Especially in a country like Japan, there are so many convenient and useful things around you and people take them for granted. But I believe those things you rediscovered while you were away will certainly change your point of view when you come back and make you appreciate more things you have not normally been paying attention to before. What a great living study!

If my bento or cooking can be of any help, I am very glad. Please take good care of yourself and have a wonderful student life in Canada, Anna-san.


Soon it is March (time flies!). In Japan a school year ends in March. Graduation ceremonies are many, people start a new life with the arrival of cherry blossoms. Those who will leave home and start living on their own are preparing their new life, a cute cooking pot, 1 mug cup and 1 plate, a small electric rice cooker for 1 person. There are school cafeterias and company cantinas, but why not try a bento time to time?

Norwegian universities do have school cafeterias too but I heard from my daughter that it was very expensive. A dinner costs more than 100 NOK (13 US dollars/11.6 Euro) and it is not the best taste. The school she is attending now in US has larger selection, they have pizza, chinese food and even sushi but you get tired of them if you eat it every single day and the portion is rather large and you have to watch your weight! There are many good things about bento and I think one of the most important one is that you can control both the amount and the quality of the food you eat.


This photo shows you my daughter’s bento box collection. Right, she loves Hello Kitty.

In order to enjoy a good bento life, I think choosing a right bento box for you is very important. If it is too small for you, you will still be hungry and end up buying something. If it is too large you may find you spending time and money to fill the box unnecessarily. If you are a women with normal appetite, I think a box with a volume around 600-700 ml might serve well. Like this set of 3 boxes in different sizes is also very convenient as you can combine and be flexible.


If you are a beginner of cooking, it might be hard to begin with. But what I want to recommend you is that you try anyway and start with a food ingredient that is very familiar with you. Ham, tuna, I think it is not such a bad idea to use sometimes frozen food or ready-made food. Most people have eggs in the fridge? You can make scrambled eggs with butter and add green onions, a sunny side up on a hot frying pan is good, you can put a slice of cheese on top and melt it. When you master Tamagoyaki in Japanese way, you are getting very good! When you fry an egg on a frying pan, you can sautee green peppers and ham beside the egg. Another dish will be completed in a minute! (It goes very fast so don’t forget salt and pepper!)


Don’t be discouraged by mistakes. Never mind and just keep on going. Some people may be so good and can make a successful bento on the first day but if you are getting better gradually through your failures and mistakes I think you will be a person with rich experiences.


Your first bento. Are you wondering when you will start?
I hope you will give a try!

xxx Rie


3 thoughts on “The first bento

  1. That’s super cool that it’s helping to increase viewership to your bentos! Quick question, however, do you translate yourself or do you run it through Google translate?
    I find some things can be lost in translation with that, but if they know you’re a non-japanese speaker and are just trying to share, then that could be overlooked.
    I’m wondering if I should provide a Japanese translation on my posts as well, now. 🙂 I mean, if you’re using GT, then it should be good enough for me as well. 🙂

    1. Thank you Grace. I am a native Japanese speaker, so I don’t need google translate to write my Japanese blog. Google translate is great but I don’t think it is good enough to produce adequate enough quality to copy and paste on your blog. Japanese is a more complex language and automatic translating method has not developed yet I think. You can try but bad translation of Japanese is very tiring to read. Readers are maybe compassionate but repeating bad translation on your blog I think is not so respectful for the readers.
      However, I do use Google translation from french-english or german to english. These latin-origin languages are much easier for Google translate I think.

      1. Okie dokie! I mainly asked because I did run your Japanese version through Google translate and it did become quite a bit wonky.
        I’m planning to take Japanese soon, actually, so I suppose it’ll be a great way for me to practice it! 🙂
        And I didn’t know you were a native Japanese speaker! That’s pretty cool! I’ve wanted to learn it since middle school but haven’t really had a good option(read a class) until recently. 🙂

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