Bento boxes of the week: Muji's plain white bento boxes

bentobox_muji.jpg

The success of the Muji, or Mujirushi Ryo-hin (無印良品)brand in many countries has been an interesting phenomenon to observe. Who knew that stripping back all the color and decoration from an object, so that it’s revealed in its purest form, could be so successful? A few people think they are a bit precious, but Muji does have legions of fans worldwide. There are now Muji stores all over Europe, a new store in Manhattan, as well as several stores around Japan.

Muji carries just two bento boxes: a two-part stacking model, and a one-level model. This pared down product offering fits their minimalist manifesto pretty well, though I rather wish that they offered different sizes of each. The undecorated design would be perfect as a manly cute-free bento box, but the capacity may be a bit on the small side. They are, however, the perfect size if you’re using bento lunches to try to lose weight. (See Selecting the right bento box.)

[Update: Agathe says in the comments that the one-piece one she has is 800ml. I guess it’s best to ask before you order, or to look at the bento box yourself!]

Incidentally, the most fascinating part of the Muji Japan site is the design proposal area where people can send in suggestions for new products. If the Muji design team decide it’s production worthy, the user-suggested products go into production. It would be great if they could open up this part of the site to worldwide customers one day.

The UK based Muji web site doesn’t offer any details about the bento boxes, but the Japanese site does. They say that both boxes are microwave and dishwasher safe (though you should remove the lid for microwaving). The one-part bento box holds 500ml (or 800ml) and has a removable divider inside (see this page). The two-part bento box holds 210ml in the bottom section and 300ml in the top section (see this page).

  • Material: plastic
  • Prices in the UK: £6.95 for the two-tier model; £8.95 for the one-part model (In Japan for some reason the two-tier is more expensive at 1200 yen, and the one-part at 950 yen. But the two-tier one explicitly says “made in Japan”, which may account for the higher price; presumably the ones sold overseas are not made in Japan.)
  • Muji EU online shopping site - they ship to the UK, the EU, and North America. (but try your local Muji store first of course)
  • Muji corporate site in English

Bento item of the week is a regular feature highlighting interesting bento related products. See past items.

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19 comments

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Hi

I have the one part one, in the french website (it’s not here anymore), was wrotten a capacity of 800ml, and it’s true, it’s because of it i had chose it (on the japanese website the lid seems white instead of transparent like mine).

that's

that’s great to know Agathe - thanks!

LustroWare

The single stack one looks very much like a Lustroware box I bought at my local Container Store (they don’t have their locking versions on the Container Store website). The (Tyson’s Corner, VA) Container Store carries several sizes, and I got a 780 mil one - which is perfect for me. I think it was about $12.

It’s the full seal keeper towards the middle of the page: http://www.lustroware.co.jp/cj/product/foodcontainer/index.html

Muji metal bento boxes

I picked up a bento box a few years ago (from the big Muji near Yurakucho station, Tokyo) and love it. It’s a plain brushed metal one, sort of an oval shape with a loose piece of metal inside to separate the food. Kind of like this http://image.rakuten.co.jp/miffyhouse/cabinet/anpanman/k-801_main.jpg If you can imagine it without Anpan Man. I particularly like the Muji box’s additional plastic lid that fits straight onto the bottom part to keep any food from leaking. The downside is that you need to keep a piece of elastic around the whole thing (and I lost mine - I’ll need to buy or make another).

I didn’t realise these would already have become unavailable - seemed like a classic design to me.

If you like Muji’s current white plastic boxes get ‘em while you can! You never know how long they’ll be available for.

  • Have you been to the new Muji in Tokyo Midtown? Outside of Japan people are kind of buying into a ‘Muji lifestyle’ paying at least double, and often triple, the Japanese price. Muji seems to have recognised that not everyone just wants quality goods at reasonable prices so they’ve opened up a store aimed at clients fully indoctrinated into the Muji brand with an exclusive range of clothes and furniture priced just like their goods in London (i.e. at least triple the price of their usual range). We certainly thought they were being a bit ‘precious’ and went and did our shopping at the old skool Muji with their normal range of goods at normal prices. Muji Midtown was a horrible disappointment. Muji Yurakucho still rocks!

Muji Bentos

These are like what Apple would produce if they made bento boxes. I dub thee…iBentos!

NY

I went to the new Muji store in SoHo the day it opened and several other days. But when I looked around, they didn’t have the bento boxes in stock. D; So right now, they still don’t sell them, but they do have overpriced suribachi…

I love my two-level stacking

I love my two-level stacking Muji bento box. The minimalist design is eminently practical — but it could really use an elastic bento band. It would take away from the aesthetic, it’d be a bit more practical, especially if you’re the type to throw your box into your bag. It is a bit on the small side at 510ml — I’d just like it to be a little bit bigger.

Hooray for minimalist bento

Hooray for minimalist bento boxes! I feel that simple yet nice designs like these really can highlight the contents of a bento. The art of the everyday! :D

The bento box that I’ve been depending one is very much like the one-layer box with the clear lid (actually I think it looks exactly the same, just different brands). It’s just so versatile.

Another 2-tier Muji bento

I have yet another Muij bento that I purchased in Singapore in the post-Christmas sales from the Muji store at Bugis Junction. It is also two-tiered, but more along the lines of the Urara boxes. It has a removable dividers: a single one in the larger tier and a “H” shaped for the smaller tier.

It’s larger than the other two: 360ml in the bottom tier, 280ml in the top, which is just about right for me.

I love these boxes, you can immediately feel the difference in quality, and their white, clean lines really show off the food. I just finished eating my lunch, and feel calm and very Zen. :)

these get a big thumbs up.

I bought these after seeing this and I’m seriously impressed. Really nice quality and the white really shows off the food.

is it microwave proof?

I bought it long time ago, but i stopped using it since it is not good to keep watery food. I wonder if it is microwave proof, since i dont understand jap writing.

oopps.. sorry i did not

oopps.. sorry i did not really read the article.. my fault.. It is microwave proof.. Thanks a lot for the info!!!!

Muji bento disappointment

I love Muji and I adore bento, so I freaked entirely out when I saw two types of bento box for sale in Muji NYC. I bought both, but now I’m wondering if I should return them! The food separators inside don’t fit tightly, and no elastic bands are included! What a rip! Incidentally, the boxes need elastic bands in order to stay closed. Buyer beware.

Ah.. so the dividers really

Ah.. so the dividers really don’t stay put?

Pearl River Mart, a block down from MUJI sells Putifresh and V-Color bento boxes for under $2 each in the basement, so check that out. Some of them don’t need elastic bands and they’re quite sturdy. ;D

one-level model size

Hello people!! Can someone tell me the size of one-level model? I’m really interested to buy it on the Muji’s italian website but it doesn’t specify bento size.

Really thanks to answer me!!

Have nice day!!!

URGENT: Do I measure rice in the CLEAR lid?

Yikes! I have the two level bento and it seems so small - something like for a child…and God knows I am definitely a lot taller.

Does the rice go in the clear lid? Or does the rice get measured in the lower (second) base/box part?

I guess it seems I am confused by the clear lid: it does not stay attached and it seems to serve no purpose. Perhaps I am wrong…but what exactly is it there? Perhaps there should be instructions on the site!

Muji's bento boxes

If you love Muji (and I do) and see something that you want, I definitely say you should buy it. It is very likely that something new and fresh will replace it before too long.

In 2001, in the Kyoto Muji, I bought several narrow, rectangular plastic boxes; one in black, a couple in burgundy. I was fascinated by their design. They not only stacked, but nested. I was puzzled by the moveable divider and elastic band. For years I've been storing embroidery floss and other small craft items in them. I've only recently realized that they are bento boxes! I've got to pull them out, check out the capacity, and start using them as intended. The rich colors will make a beautiful background for food.

Re: Bento boxes of the week: Muji's plain white bento boxes

FWIW, a couple of months ago I was at the Muji store in the Marais district of Paris, and they only had 2 models of bento, both white with matching (not transparent) lids. Not sure if they have more models in Japan. They were relatively expensive I thought, about 30 euro each. They had some nice blue 'aizome' (indigo dyed) bento bags too.

Re: Bento boxes of the week: Muji's plain white bento boxes

WOW, these are perfect for storage of my lunch. I'm concerned that they might not be suitable for bolognase or anything tomato based with them being plain white - has anyone tried spag bol in them?

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