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 love this blog, and the

I love this blog, and the pictures make me want to make my own bento.

Margaret in the US

I wish!

Wish I had had bento growing up, I mean. Every day growing up, my lunch was either peanut butter or bologna sandwiches and an apple. I still can’t stand them now! I make bento for the husband to take to work every day though - on a tiny budget, it means he gets at least visual variety, and he really likes taking rice instead of bread like everyone else. :)

And the Shinzi Katoh Ringo accessories are lovely. I especially have been wanting to get the cutters - I really do hate cutting out tiny fiddly things by hand. Are they expensive, and can you get them online?

Location: rural NY, USA

Those are so cute! <3 I´m

Those are so cute! <3 I´m just beggining to make bentos, your blog has been so inspiring!

Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil


So cute! Allison, U.S.

Even in Israel...

I’m trying my hand at bentos. My girls have a 10AM snack time at school, and my daughter’s classmates call her snack a “kingly meal” (it sounds better in Hebrew)


I love Just Bento!

I discovered your blog about a year ago and I absolutely love it! I’ve become a big fan of bento and your site makes it so easy to come up with ideas. I love coming to work and having folks in the lunch room peak over to see what I’ve brought today! I’m located in Seattle Washington ^_^

Count me in!

Oh my God!

Those Shinzi Katoh Ringo accessories are just too cute. They would certainly brighten any dull bento. I hope I’m lucky enough to win something.

Chely from Puerto Rico

Bento Giveaway

I’ve only just discovered your site thanks to a recommendation by a friend and am loving it so far. I would really appreciate these little gadgets.

I was a child like you. A well intentioned mother that forgot the little things. She’d remember the present and new clothes for a party but forgot the gift wrap. To prevent teasing she thought quickly and wrapped the gift in tin foil. I never got invited to anymore parties at that school. But like you the heartache didnt end there. Not once but three times she did this to me.

Jane, Portsmouth, England.


Ooh, these are fun! I pack lunches for 3 of my sons, and then lunches at home for the two youngest boys, so these would come in handy! I’m in the US.

Thank you so much!

Your sites are so awesome!

Location - TX, USA

How cute!

What a sweet story from when you were younger; and a cute mistake on your mom’s part. The item today looks so adorable I want it bad!

Location: USA

Those look pretty nice.

Those look pretty nice. I’m sure i’ve never seen them in stores here.

Richmond Hill, Canada.


Thanks from Montana!!!

Your stories are the best!!!

Geoff, US

What a Wonderful Memory

Hi Maki, isn’t it funny, the particular memories we retain? Perhaps your mother was trying subconsciously to do what you did, and complete the bento! :) I love and read both your blogs, and couldn’t resist commenting for the first time because those bento supplies are so darn cute! Congratulations on the first/fifth anniversary!

-Marika, United States

Bento giveaway

WOW I can taste it already ……. thank you.

This post really touched the

This post really touched the mommy inside me ^_^ I think all moms have those moments when our intentions and the outcomes don’t exactly match! Luckily our little ones forgive us and smile on it later.

Name: Katie

Location: Ohio, U.S.


Well, your mom’s heart was in the right place! I make bentos for my husband and myself, and I’ve made some blunders on making mine, but not on making his… or if I have, he hasn’t had the heart to tell me!


Location USA… Name Argentee… laughs I was so caught up in the story, I forgot the contest rules!

I like raw carrots

I think a lot of people have at least one ‘oops/aw’ lunch story from school. (For my grandmother I remember it having something to do with tapioca pudding.) Though I admit to being strange as I didn’t think raw carrots were so bad even as a kid. ^^



This is a new one for me. I’ve never seen much like these and I bet they’re fun to use. Nice to meet everyone, I’m Jenny Ramos from Texas, United States

so fab!

I love this blog! Makes me want to bento more :)

Molly, Georgia, USA

!!.. so cute..!

awww those accessories are so perfect =( I never win things like this!

I am from the UK. thanks!

such a cute set

I love your blog, I can’t wait till I am out of college and can make my own bento for going to work (right now I have to be on the school meal plan) -Sara (Maryland, USA)

Shannon from Seattle, WA,

Shannon from Seattle, WA, U.S.A.


what a cute giveaway! - Christen, USA

Happy and Tasty Memories of Kyoto

Oh yum! I spent most of one summer in and around Kyoto. It was there that I was introduced to bentos — and today’s carrot flowers took me back to a delicious whirlwind of remembered tastes. Wish I weren’t such a lazy person when preparing food for myself. Elaine USA

How cute!

These would look very cute in my lunch boxes! ;)

name: Valerie Country: Sweden/USA

I love your stories of your

I love your stories of your mom forgetting parts of your lunch. As a mom i can totally relate. As a kid we made our own lunches since as long as I can remember. I wish we’d known about bento then, but that was gasp before internet. I’d love to win the gear listed. I’m fairly new to bento and I can’t find any bento stuff where I live so this would really liven up my loc and lock container lunches. thanks.

Such cute stories! It’s

Such cute stories! It’s obvious your mom loved you very much even though she was a bit forgetful sometimes. It’s funny though, I actually prefer my carrot flowers raw…


I love your bento site! I aspire to create nice bentos like yours.


Oh wow

I find these things to be somewhat expensive being imported and all. I would love to win them to start my collection without dishing out a ton of cash.

I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the United States.

Happy Anniversary!

I am a bento newbie and have very little supplies. I had to jump at the chance to win these! So cute!

Happy Anniversary! I love this site and check back regularly, and am looking forward to many more years of Just Bento and Just Hungry!

Be Well, Cheryce - U.S. (Oregon)

I really love your site! I

I really love your site! I visit it almost everyday, and have made so many of your recipes. They are easy and tasty too!

St. Louis, MO USA

Why not?

Let’s see if I’m lucky! Kei - Paris, France

JustBento andJustHungry are my favorute websites!! Thanks! Kei

Fun Stuff!

Cute giveaway! Love the story, and the picture of those gyoza made me hungry!

Steph, Muncie, IN USA

they’re so cute!!! Would

they’re so cute!!! Would love to use them in my bento making! - J, United Kingdom

Such cute accessories! I

Such cute accessories! I love putting together lunches for my family; sometimes I forget important things too.

Location: USA

You’re so generous. It’s

You’re so generous. It’s hard to get a hold of such nice bento supplies. Keep up the great blogging! Location: USA

So Jelous

I had school lunches kindergarten through high school, but I did development a fondness for square pizza and chicken nuggets!

Christine Omaha, NE

Cute stuff! I’m in!

Cute stuff! I’m in! :)

Dyana, USA

happy anniversary!

Happy anniversary! I found you via Just Hungry and now read both blogs every week. Thanks for all of the great ideas and recipes! You’ve got me hooked on onigiri! Pat in Oregon, USA

Apple Accessories

I love them!

Dianna, Boston, USA

Apple Accessories

I love them!

Dianna, Boston, USA

Ah, these are too cute!

Ah, these are too cute! I’d definitely love to add them to my small-but-growing bento accessories collection.

Thanks, Maki!

Lorena, USA

So cute!

I always love to enter contests for cute things, even though I never win. Maybe this time will be the one for me! Thanks for all the great bento tips and advice!

I forgot my location :(

I forgot my location in my comment. Is it okay to add it now?

Location: Terre Haute, IN, USA

Contest entry

OMG are those cute!

name: Sugg Location: Illinois, USA

I love your site

Saire, New York, USA


cute indeed

I’ve always thought those little fluid condiment containers looked really useful.

JP - Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Love your blog...

…and the stories about your childhood bento - poor thing, with only raw carrot flowers on your rice! From Anna in Wellington, New Zealand.