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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Happy Anniversary!

I love your site! Happy Anniversary, and thanks for holding giveaways like these- they’re so fun, and who doesn’t like getting cute stuff?


Hollywood, USA


These are too cute! Would love to use them for my bentos!

Nikki Maryland, USA

Location: Vancouver,

Location: Vancouver, Canada

Ah, they’re so cute~!!


Those are adorable! My son gets lunch at school (surprisingly good!), but I make him bentos sometimes. He’s almost too old for cute. :(

I’m from the USA.


These accessories are absolutely adorable! I need to find some tiny cookie cutters so I can cut my veggies up into cute shapes. :) Claire (USA)

So cute...

Such cute stuff!

My dad tells similar stories about his school lunches. His mom would carefully make him lunch every day… Exactly the same… A PB&J sandwich, and a curl cut carrot (raw). My grandmother died before I was born, so we’ve never been able to reproduce this curl cut carrot. My dad describes it as a whole carrot cut into a really long curl. I always picture one really long curl similar to if you were trying to peel an apple in one strip.

Lindsay in Maryland (USA)


I have a son and a niece who love all things Japan- latest find is Hanafuda card game, online and with our new deck all together.

Love this site, thanks!

cyrene missouri, U.S.

Happy Anniversary...

…Just Bento!

Thank you Maki, for enabling a lowly ‘dorm room’ student to eat healthily. Lunch time is now an eagerly-awaited part of my day and admittedly, would be even more so should I be fortunate enough to win today’s giveaway :)

Claire, England.

Very cute!

These are super cute!

Kim, United States


Oh man that looks rad. I need to get home and make me some gyoza stat!

Morbo (USA)

I don’t get why you were

I don’t get why you were dissapointed ;-) I could eat a dozen of gyozas every single day and would not ask for anything to go with it :-) By the way, the cutters want to come to The Netherlands!

happy anniversary! this is a

happy anniversary! this is a great story. So nice that the bento could finally be created as it was meant to be.

Zoe, Canada

Cute! Cute! Cute! Los

Cute! Cute! Cute! Los Angeles, CA

I'm entering!

I would love those cutters to add to my bento collection! USA - winks!

Nice Bento

This is a cute give away! I’ve been reading both your blogs for a while. I’m half Japanese but my mother never made me any bentos. I just started getting into them and I’m 31!

Stella in California, USA

These are so cute

I would absolutely love to be the lucky one… Congrat to your fantastic sites! Rita, from Hungary

Just Starting My Bento Adventures

Love your blog! I’m only just starting to create yummy bento meals. Thanks for the help and inspiration!

Matt, Seattle, WA (USA)

Happy anniversary!

I just wanted to let you know that I eagerly check both Just Bento and Just Hungry every day in the hopes you’ve posted! My husband appreciates the many recipes I’ve used from your site (for me, personally, it’s the bacon furikake…ummmmmm, bacon… I’ve made that at least four times), and I thank you for a fun read on so many days. Thanks for being here for us, and I hope we have many more years of your wonderful articles!

Kathy in S.B.

P.S. Errr, and if I was to win the prize for today, I promise it would be loved and cherished!

Gack, S.B. is

Santa Barbara, in California, USA. I swear, we abbreviate everything here so much, I forgot to “translate!”.


Oh, I’ve been wanting some accessories like this! I’ve browsed a lot, but haven’t gathered up the courage to purchase any yet.

Nan (US)

So adorable! Yes, I do make

So adorable!
Yes, I do make bento lunches for my son, although I don’t know if the term is technically correct for what I put together for him. No rice and no sides since he is just too darn American. Nothing that requires utensils. sigh Maybe when he is a little older.

As for your mother’s forgetfulness, that sounds like my own maternal amnesia. It happens. A lot. sigh again

Las Vegas, NV, U.S.

Happy Anniversary Just Bento!

Aww, congratulations on a lovely first year anniversary here! I love your blog and your generosity! Keep up the great work!

Just wondering, where do you buy your accessories normally?

Jennie ~ (USA)

So cute!

I love your bento posts, and these are so cute! Happy anniversary!

Linda (MA, USA)

Fun bento tools

I have wanted to try out some molds, but just use teacups and other items I already own. These items looks like a fun way to experiment! -Lisa, USA

Happy Anniversary

So adorable! I love visiting your site!

Lac’Nala - USA

I’m new to your blog, but

I’m new to your blog, but I just love it! Thanks for the chance to win! Jessica USA


Happy anniversary! I love both your sites! What a wonderful way to celebrate!

This accessories are so cute

This accessories are so cute !! I have to find some before my hisband looks to your blog !!!

Shunrai (France)

Hurray! That was a good

Hurray! That was a good bento story.

Marisa, Canada


United States, Illinois, Evanston

I loooooove this. The

I loooooove this. The furikake shakers would especially come in handy.

Lindsay (Canada)


I’ve always enjoyed reading your blog, not only for the food but because of the stories you write about as well.

Christina United States

Happy 1st Anniversary!

I’ve quite enjoyed reading Just Bento and Just Hungry since I found them a few months ago. Can’t wait to see what’s in the future!

Lesley, United States

Thanks for sharing

Love your blog and thanks for sharing you stories and this cute giveaway.

Hehe, I’m chuckling about

Hehe, I’m chuckling about the raw carrots. Reminds me of the time when I received only pudding and no lunch and no spoon. Yikes.

Oooh, those accessories are adorable! The sauce bottles, especially. Love the apples.

April from the United States.

^^ Please count me in for the contest.


Eating a bento made by Mom everyday is like opening a present from Mom everyday. The anticipation of opening it then finding out it’s filled with your favorite foods, or in some cases, a miss rather than a hit. =) Something exciting to look forward to everyday!


I love your stories and the supplies! I wouldn’t have minded if I had gotten raw carrots - I like them raw!

Location: Sweden


So cute!

Those accessories are adorable.

I just started reading your site, and I’ve already gotten lots of great ideas for bentos. Thanks!

Deirdre, New Hampshire, USA

I can completely empathise.

I can completely empathise. My Mum sent me off to Guide Camp with a paper bag full of doughnuts, instead of my packed lunch. I wasn’t too upset. ;)

These bento accessories are just SO cute!!! There would be much PhD-procrastination if I had them. :D

Djinn, Leicester (UK)


I’ve always wanted to buy cute things like these for my bento but being a poor college kid means I can’t.

Gyoza dumpling bento ne? I should try it one day.

Name: risa Country: USA

First Anniversary Giveaway

Hi !!! Happy 1st Anniversary !! Thank You for all the creative Bento recipes and the GREAT memories shared..I’m new at this, but I have learned to cook the carrots, though I have left out many other parts, when packing in a rush!! LOL May you keep blogging for many years to come…. Sakiblu in Moorestown, New Jersey USA

So cute.

Love both your blogs.

Richmond, Va

My mom did the same thing!

When I was very small, I was kind of a picky eater, so my mother used to send me off to preschool with a thermos-full of the only thing I would consent to eat at the time - chicken noodle soup - the dry lipton kind. Mom would put a bit of the soup mix into the thermos and add hot water, and by lunchtime, the soup would be cooked!

Except for the time that she forgot to put in the soup mix, and I had a thermos full of warm water for lunch…

Thanks for bringing back that memory! And I love both of the blogs!

And I’m in the USA!

Love the Site

I have learned so much from you and your websites. I am submitting this entry during my lunch hour while eating Turkey Shigureni made from my holiday leftovers with your recipe. Congratulations!

What great stories you have

What great stories you have about your bentos.
Thanks for sharing!

Torie :) France

I had a look at your website

I had a look at your website when i first started making bento for myself about a year ago. I wasn’t sure how i could go about bento with more western food ideas until i looked through your posts. I think in a way your site inspired me to be more adventurous with my bento and throw myself into the making of it a bit more. I have a small set of sweet bento accessories now and i made very attractive lunches. Now my partner is interested in bento too! I will be making lunches for him at university soon. So keep up the good work on the site, and please enter me for the cute bento accessories competition :D Would be an awsome addition to my new home!

Lana - Germany

Happy First Anniversary!!

I’ve been reading Just Bento from the beginning and absolutely love it. So many of my staple bento recipes come from your site— thank you!

Zora, United States

Little Faces

Cute faces make everything look better!

Country: USA

So adorable!

I’ve been looking for things like this for a while, they are too cute for words! Despite me being 19, I still like making my lunches kawaii, they add some happiness to my day while I’m at college and have tests to take back to back, then open my lunchbox to find a nice lunch that brings a smile to my face. I loved the stories (I sometimes put dumplings in my obento, but usually do no rice and lots of veggies), and I think you were quite lucky to have a mother that took time to make lunches. My mother says she wishes she could have done that with us when we were little.

Lauren, United States

How cute

Name: Stacy Location: Oregon, USA

Those bento tools are simply adorable…