First Anniversary Giveaway Day 2, with bento memories

This is the second day of the week long giveaway party to celebrate the first anniversary of Just Bento, as well as the fifth anniversary of Just Hungry. (The first day of Just Bento’s part is here.) While over on Just Hungry I’m looking back at the first five years of the site, here I’d like to go even further back in time, and talk about some memorable bentos from my past. (If you want to skip ahead, today’s giveaway is at the bottom.)

Raw carrot flowers

My mother was always busy while I was growing up - she was often working, or had my younger sisters to worry about. Nevertheless she always made me an obento every day when I needed one. But sometimes, she’d forget to put in something.

I don’t know why I still remember this, but when I was 5 years old and in kindergarten, I opened my little pink bento box to find it full of rice topped with beautifully cut carrot flowers…and nothing else. I looked in my bag for another container, and found nothing. On top of that, the carrot flowers were raw! I still remember picking one up with my matching pink chopsticks, and the awful taste (to a 5 year old) of those hard carrot pieces. Soon I was crying, my heart full of despair. How could my mother do this to me? My kind kindergarten teacher took me aside, assessed the situation, and gave me some of her okazu (sides) to eat with my plain rice, which I ate while still sobbing.

My young mother had forgotten to put in the okazu, and hadn’t known that she was supposed to cook the carrot flowers! She’d seen a picture of them in a magazine without instructions, and in the busy household in a small town in Saitama prefecture where she’d grown up, they didn’t have time to cut carrots into fancy shapes.

A bento box full of gyoza

After my first year of kindergarten, the whole family moved to England and then the U.S. for several years. Once back in Japan, I had school lunch in elementary school, but once I got to middle school (junior high school) I needed bentos again. By this time my mother had a job, not to mention another child, but she still managed to make me an obento every morning. They weren’t fancy or pretty like those of some of my classmates, but they were always delicious. I still remember the bentos of my school years with a lot of fondness.

One day, I opened my very unfeminine no-nonsense aluminum bento box to find it full of plump gyoza dumplings. I think there were a dozen in there. They were lined on the bottom with…a raw cabbage leaf. There was nothing else — my mother had forgotten to pack the rice! My 14 year old self didn’t burst into tears, but did find it a bit strange. I traded a few of the dumplings with my friends for some of their rice, which worked out fine.

When I got home, I quizzed my mother about my gyoza-only bento. She admitted that she had indeed, forgotten the rice. Then I asked her about the raw cabbage leaf. She stared at me, and then at the nearly-empty bento box, and exclaimed, “but I thought it was lettuce!”


If you combine the two missing-parts bentos separated by 9 years, I think it makes a rather decent bento. But I did cook the carrot flowers!

And now….on to today’s giveaway!

The rules again

Full information is in the Just Hungry post, but the important bits:

This giveaway is open to everyone, regardless of where you live, as long as you can receive mail!

Your comment must contain the following, or your entry will be disqualified:

  • Your email address - put this in the Email box so that spambots can’t see it. The email is necessary so I can contact you if you win!
  • Your name (a nickname is ok)
  • Your location (country)
  • You can enter/comment for all giveaways if you want, but one item per comment please!
  • Your comment must be posted before the stated deadline.

Note: None of the following items is a review copy, advertising freebie, etc. They are all items that I have duplicates or similar of myself and have used and loved!

Delivery: I’ll airmail you the item if you win ASAP, but I cannot guarantee you’ll get in time for Christmas.

Just Bento Giveaway Item 2: Shinzi Katoh Ringo Bento Accessories and Kyarappa cutter set


Even if you are as busy as my mom was, you can still make your kids’, or your own, bento lunches pretty with the items in today’s giveaway. Maybe your kids will remember the bento lunches you make for them when they are adults, and embarass you with old stories too!

Shinzi Katoh’s Ringo (Apple) bento accessories are too cute for words, and the Kyarappa (Charappa) food cutter set will have you making kawaii onigiri with eyes and limbs in no time.

You’ll get 2 furikake shakers (you could use them as salt/peppers too), 2 sets of sauce containers, a set of tiny food containers, and the Kyarappa cutter set of 3, which comes with a recipe pamphlet in Japanese.

Please note that the Ringo accessories are not dishwasher safe. They should be washed carefully, since the faces can get rubbed off (as with many Shinzi Katoh bento accessories). The Kyarappa cutter package recommends handwashing too.

DEADLINE: Your comment/entry must be posted before Midnight Greenwich Mean Time on Friday, December 5th.

This giveaway is now closed. Thanks for entering, and check the front page for the giveaways that are still open! The winner will be announced next week! Good luck!

Follow and Like our Facebook Page! And visit our sister site, Just Hungry


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I’m not usually enticed by

I’m not usually enticed by kawaii mono, but these are cute and useful, so I’m putting my name in the ring.

I assume we’ll hear the results after December 5th?

Yoko Philadelphia, PA USA

I’ll announce the winners

I’ll announce the winners when all the giveaways are done, next week!

I love your site

And, man, those are just too cute. I normally avoid give aways like this, too…. These are just too cute!

Aw, how could she forget the okazu...

…and then the rice! That’s really cute. I felt really bad for the 5-year-old girl (well, you…haha!) in that story. My mom was always busy too, so she just left money. If I wanted to bring a lunch, I had to make it myself. Growing up in the US, I didn’t hear of bento until I was much older. I think I would have enjoyed making bento boxes for myself though! I’ve just started making them to bring to work, hoping the practice pays off when I have little ones of my own. (Note to self: never forget the okazu!)

Happy 1st Anniversary.

I think I might have been reading the site since the first couple of weeks. It has become a go to site in my feeds.

Allen Fayetteville, AR USA

Too cute!

Those accessories are just too cute!

Location - USA Name - Jencat

made me cry

for some reason your story made me cry a little :’( silly me!!!! I would love those Bento suplies :D Vanessa (Dominican Republic)

Those are adorable!

And I loved your stories about your mother’s forgetfulness!

Ally, in the UK (London).

Happy One Year Anniversary and Many More to Come!!!

Hi Maki, I can’t believe how time flies…..and that Just Bento is already one year old (I started reading your blog a little bit before JB was launched). Thank you for continuing to share your wonderful recipes and experiences! Thanks also for this week of giveaways…..

Wakkun, USA

PS: Since I logged on, there wasn’t a place to input the email address but it was input before. Hope that doesn’t disqualify the entry. : )


These are too adorable for words! Worth a try for sure! From Ann in Canada!

Wow, so cute! Location:

Wow, so cute!

Location: Canada

That’s quite funny—I

That’s quite funny—I refused to eat any cooked vegetable until I was well into adulthood. But I loved raw carrots as a child (and still do).

Holly New York (USA)

Happy Anniversary!


Congratulations on your anniversaries! I love both your blogs - your recipes make great bentos - and dinners! :)

Thanks for all your your efforts over the last few years!

Glenda from Ottawa, Canada


I have just discovered both your sites… They’re absolutely beautiful :) thank-you… Himara (Sri Lanka)

Okay, gotta enter this one

Okay, gotta enter this one too…

Kathleen Ecuador

What a cute story! My mom only made me bentos and they never had any cutesie designs but they were still delicious. In high school I made my own bento sometimes but my classmates would gawk at my food. Someone told me my pickled nasu looked like a placenta.

I love your blogs SO MUCH!!!

Amanda, Ontario Canada.

I love your Just Hungry and Just Bento blogs! I’ve leaned so much here!!!


These are too cute, really! I’d love to use them for lunches!

-Bibliothecaria Philadelphia, PA

Oooh these are sooo cute.

Oooh these are sooo cute. Would love to win the.

Thanks for making Just Bento such a wonderful resource.

Anu, USA

Oh yes please!

These are cute and my boys would love them!

Rochester, NY USA

I always got sandwiches as a

I always got sandwiches as a kid. For a while there, I hated all sandwiches :D. I always microwave my packed lunches. I should try to pack some room temperature bentos.

They look useful =3 Also

They look useful =3 Also quite cute.

Nathalie M, Wilmington, DE, USA


What a nice thing of you to do for your site anniversaries. These are just too cute. Good luck to everyone!

I absolutely live shinzi

I absolutely live shinzi katoh. love love love. And your bento blog/recipes have definitely been the most helpful and practical of several that I check. Oh, and the daigaku imo turned out perfect at Thanksgiving! A huge hit with the in-laws and kids and husband agreed that they were just like he remembered! Thanks! Brook, North Carolina, USA

Oh, your poor mother! It

Oh, your poor mother! It sounds like something my mother would do! But it makes a good story :)

Michelle, Raleigh, NC, USA

Pick me! Pick me!

Pick me! Pick me! :)

I’m Katie in the USA, and I’d love to win the Shinzi Katoh Ringo Bento Accessories and Kyarappa cutter set!

Kawaii! (I think I’m

Kawaii! (I think I’m going to have to try gyoza! Your stories and pictures made me hungry.)

Avlor South Dakota, USA

Cool stuff

These would definitely be fun to use.

Alex from West Richland, Washington USA


Maybe with cute accessories like those, I might have a chance to convince my 5.75 yo daughter to eat other things besides yogurt, breaded/battered chicken shapes, noodles, rice, and bananas. Regardless, I love learning from your blog. All the best, Debbie in Zürich, Switzerland

What sweet stories! That

What sweet stories! That picture of gyoza is making me hungry… :)

I’m kris from Athens, GA USA

Just Darling

I am hoping to give my young toddler some bento containers/accessories for Christmas and start packing her bento lunches for nursery school in 2009. I’ve been inspired by your lovely blog! Would love to win these. Happy anniversary!

Elizabeth from Tennessee, USA

Those are adorable stories

I love hearing that stuff! I wonder if your mom knows you remember those stories so clearly :) Unless those are some of the stories that get re-told around the dinner table all the time when you get together (as happens with my family). Very nostalgic… It makes me happy to hope that one day, my kids (that I don’t have yet) will also tell funny stories about Mom and her silly bentos.

Such sweet memories, it’s

Such sweet memories, it’s always nice to look back and laugh ^_^ I think raw carrot is quite nice, but maybe that’s just me being odd :)

Rachel, United Kingdom (Nottingham)

It makes me smile… it’s

It makes me smile… it’s not so funny though, but I imagine you, as a little child then as a teenager, in front of your half empty bento box. Luckily you didn’t take a grief toward your mother ;)

These items are so cute !

Name: Nolwenn Location: France

Fun stories!

I really enjoy reading your blog! Christina, from NJ, USA!

Super cute! I never thought

Super cute! I never thought of my aluminum bento as unfeminine but I guess it is…

Say (Canada)

I enjoyed reading your

I enjoyed reading your memories :) I am glad that children eventually look back and laugh. I have not been brave enough to pack bento, but in my daughter’s lunch I have occasionally forgotten something and gotten that “what were you thinking?” response!

Cute flowers!

I really need to get some cookie cutters! Smiley (USA)

Bento Accessories

What charming stories! You recently inspired me to start making bento. I now own several cute boxes, but would love to have these bento accessories.

Susan, USA

These are super cute! Lis,

These are super cute!

Lis, Singapore

Cute accessories!

At least it made it memorable. I don’t remember anything about the lunches I got sent to school with when I was little. I love all the little accessories!

~Amy in Pittsburgh, PA

These are so adorably cute

These are so adorably cute :) I’d love to make bento with them. Thanks for the giveaway!

Love it!

Those look not only adorable, but useful-my favorite combination!

Rebecca, USA

Bento Giveaway

Your stories were so funny! I prob wouldn’t know what to think either if that had happened to any of my childhood bentos. Unfortunately, if this happens now I can only blame myself :-)



I’m in the United States.

Those are adorable! I still

Those are adorable! I still remember my mother doing something similar to your story only it was a hamburger without the meat. :( Lots of toppings but not patty lol.

Ooops I’m Xani in New

Ooops I’m Xani in New Brunswick Canada

Your story about the carrot

Your story about the carrot flowers is so cute. I wouldn’t have known to cook them either! I wish that I had anything half as creative as that for my lunches growing up.

Jessica Connecticut


My wife would love all the cute accessories.

Alex, United States

These are so cute !!!

To start with, I’m a big fan of your blog. But these accessories are just so cute !!! I would love to get them and to feature bentos using them on my website.

Géraldine FRANCE !!!

Wow, way better than Daiso

Wow, way better than Daiso stuff but it does make me yearn for one on the East coast nonetheless.