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!”

memorybento1.jpg

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

shinzikatohstuff.jpg

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!

For more bento recipes, ideas and tips, subscribe to Just Bento via your newsreader or by email (more about subscriptions).

And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.

416 comments

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Oh my goodness! Accessories

Oh my goodness! Accessories accessories! Is it possible to have too much? Probably, but I certainly don’t yet! I love the stories you told! Memories like that are so sweet! I wish I had memories of my mother making my bentos… unfortunately I grew up on school lunches :( I will make sure my kids (when I get round to having some) will have nice yummy and healthy bentos to remember when they’re older! Time to spruce up my skillz! ;)

Cheers Annabel - Bern, Switzerland

I love to read your memories

Hi Maki! It was so touching to read your memories about obentos. My parents are japanese but I wasn´t raised in Japan, so, every little thing that you write about your japanese-side culture makes me remember my childhood and specially my mother. You don´t know how good it feels to read your blog (both Just Hungry and this one ) . It gives me somehow confort and it makes me remember (and miss ) everything related to japanese food.

Congratulations for your anniversaries of blogging! Good quality blogs like yours really inspires me (and others for sure ) to create one of my own.

karaimame, Helsinki-Finland

If only my mom made food look so cute...

…I may have turned out to be less of a fussy eater :)

I was really difficult with food as a kid, but as I grew up I appreciated the work my mom put into preparing meals for us. I did make my lunches every day in grade school, but nothing as kawaii as your bento lunches!

Natalie, Canada

i must say that i love gyoza

i must say that i love gyoza :’l i ate it like… once ^^’ but i loved it and i will go back to that place and eat it again

Ana, Portugal

Raw Carrot Rocks

Strange, I’ve always loved raw carrot, even as a child. But then, I was a very odd child!

I remember my mum used to put little notes in with my sandwiches when I was little. They always made me smile :)

MsDerious England

Happy Anniversary!

Even more than by the giveaway items themselves, I’m excited that your anniversary has given me the motivation to post a comment for the first time! I’ve really enjoyed reading both Just Bento and Just Hungry over the last six months or so; they’re definitely my favourite food-related blogs.

And there’s nothing like fun/cute/interesting accessories to keep me motivated cooking for my lunches. For me this usually means new small tupperware containers; how much more motivating are sauce bottles shaped like smiling apples!

Bronwyn (USA, MA)

Nyaaa~!!! These are so

Nyaaa~!!! These are so cute!! ♥ ♥

I was just getting ready to buy sauce containers for my bento from J-List :3 This would be the perfect little set to complete what I was looking for!! lol XD

I was gonna buy blue and yellow penguin sauce containers to match my yellow bento! (^ w ^)~♥

That bento looks delicious, by the way!! (o w o) lol I wish my mom made obento for me when I was little!! (TT ^ TT) She did pack my lunch, though~ It just wasn’t cute and bento-ish, haha~

Do you think I could make the carrots like that with canned carrots? They’re pre-cooked, so it would save me time from having to peel/cook them myself. I could just cut the edges so they look like flowers! (^ - ^)v

asuri Delaware, USA

aw....

Isn’t it funny the things we remember from our childhood? I feel bad for you and even worse for your mom (I myself have confused cabbage and lettuce…LOL).

Thanks for the opportunity—these accessories are adorable!

Jenny, USA

I love your stories!

I love the stories that you write. My brother in law tells a story where he one day he had a mustard sandwich in his lunch. His mother had missed the meat and lettuce on his sandwich in the assembly line. She was another busy working mother. I am sure my kids will have lots of stories to tell about me, too. Thanks for the great bento site-it has been great for me to learn how to make bentos for my kids attending Japanese school. Jane country-Japan

Eva, USA Aww, I can imagine

Eva, USA

Aww, I can imagine your disappointment at the raw carrots and plain rice at five years old!

And the apple bento accessories are just too adorable!

Giveaway day two

Wow just saw this in my google reader and already tons of comment…maybe im just slow at replying..

You've had such an amazing effect...

…on the lunches I eat, and consequently, my life. Thank you so much for all the time and energy that you have put into this amazing, amazing site. You’ve truly touched my life. <3

Debbie from North Carolina, USA

If I had kids I can imagine

If I had kids I can imagine putting them through the same sort of bento experience you went through maki.

Ami/ United States

The apples!

The apples are so cute; it makes me wish it was still fall here and there were fresh apples and cherries everywhere. I’m in Grand Rapids, MI, USA.

Congratulations!

So cute! Thanks for offering this prize. ^_^

Eva (USA)

Very cute accessories

I had bought some stuff in Japan before I really started making bento and also had a friend bring me some from Japan this year, but I am always on the lookout for more. Especially ones that are this cute.

I am from Germany.

So cute! Minneapolis, MN

So cute! Minneapolis, MN

what a neat giveaway

I’m just getting into Bento myself and these are just too cute!

Genevieve, Milwaukee, WI USA

Wow, I’ve been following

Wow, I’ve been following this blog for a while, and congrats on JustBento’s first anniversary! It’s really a great site, and I’ll look forward to seeing even more posts about awesome bento stuff in the future~ <3

&&I live in the United States. xD The bento accesories were just so cute that I nearly squealed out loud when i saw them, haha.

Happy Anniversary!

I am new to Just Bento, and I love it! Your experiences of things left out of your bento are so sweet/sad….Thanks for sharing.

I’ve been looking longingly at all the bento boxes and especially the crazy cute bento accessories on jlist, but I always manage to tear myself away without buying any, since I have no clue what to do with any of them….that is, until I discovered Just Bento. Now I am seriously toying with the idea of making bentos for us for DINNER (since we don’t really do lunch, as such). I am gaining confidence thanks to your information on things like onigiri (from Just Hungry) and various ingredients. I’m hopelessly infatuated with small, cute food, too, so it’s just a matter of time now before I take the plunge and create my first bento.

Thanks for your wonderful stories, photos, information, and above all, inspiration! And Happy Anniversary to both sites.

Nicole, USA

Raw or Cooked

I think my boy would love someone to give him carrot flowers for lunch - when he was younger we were walking around a farm shop and suddenly realised he’d acquired a carrot from the displays and was happily munching away.

I love your site, I found it when I started making lunches for my 3 year old - it is a source of constant inspiration for me.

Pennie, UK

Your reminiscence was really

Your reminiscence was really cute. My mother many years ago, having to make lunch for three boys at school as well as work never really had the time to make our lunches with great care. For a period of about three years during my primary school days, we had two slices of bread, with two fishfingers (baked) and a slice of processed cheese, with the whole thing microwaved before being cooled and wrapped in clingwrap. They were the worst possible lunch you could imagine once you had them every day, every week for a while. Lunctime became more of a ‘eat it as quick as you can’ scenario, and go hide in the library so I wouldn’t see other kids have nice lunches LOL. When we all got a little older, and entered highschool, we rebelled at the notion of continuing the fishfinger sandwhiches and my mother found more time to prepare more varied sandwiches.

Now days, since my mother no longer works, she makes lunchbox bento’s from leftovers, or maki rolls for us to take to work or university, or gyoza as well, but we usually get about twenty of them for lunch without anything else ^_^

Whoopsadaisy

In my absorbed commentary, I forgot to mention my location LOL

Sydney, Australia =)

Superwomen?

Oh my god, are those prizes the cutest things ever or what?!

You know, I’ve always wondered how people manage to make a bento every morning - I find it hard enough to get washed and ready for work as it is without having to cook anything.

Jan from the UK

name: Scottie country:

name: Scottie country: Canada AAH! this looks so cute! so many varieties!

They are so cute!!!!

They are so cute!!!! X3

Minh, USA

Ooh Shinzi Katoh has such

Ooh Shinzi Katoh has such adorable accesories!

Ami, USA

(P)Riceless!

Thanks for sharing the story. I hope that it won’t happen to me, but I can see how one can forget a container easily too. My husband has walked out the door without the kids’ lunch bags/backpacks before… mornings are always crazy - whether you are single or a family! Would love to have more bento things to get more creative.

Andrea in Berlin, Germany

お誕生日おめでとう

Happy Anniversary!! I envy all the bento boxes you make! If only I had all the trinkets to do it too! :D

ack somehow i put the

ack somehow i put the “<” and “>” on my location and it got filtered out!!

~California, USA

Thanks for the inspiration!

I started reading your blog a couple of months ago when I was home sick from work. Today I made my first bento today for me and my husband (your kinpira carrots, with tuna salad and brown rice topped with sesame seeds and green onion, and nori, for making temaki). You inspired me to start making my own bento. Thanks for all of your helpful and interesting posts. I would like to receive the bento accessories because I’m just getting started! Also, thanks for sharing your stories of bentos growing up!

Fyi, the recipe pamphlet in Japanese is fine with us, since my husband is proficient in Japanese and can translate it for me.

Re-Grats - 7 years of

Re-Grats - 7 years of combined food blogging!

And I’m in Australia :)

Carrot flowers :D gonna try

Carrot flowers :D gonna try that.

Piotr, Poland

Woah, so cute!

I often pack somewhat incomplete lunches (no sauces, not forgotten okazu). Having a lovely set of sauce bottles and furikake containers would make my day. Liss, Pittsburgh, USA

Cute giveaway

Thank you for sharing your obento memories. I clumsily made my kids’ obentos this morning and could have used some of the kawaii obento supplies in your giveaway to make them more appetizing. Fortunately, I did remember the rice ! Thanks for a great website.

Location: Tokyo, Japan

bento memories

Thank you for sharing your special bento memories with us. For me, my Mum’s packed lunches were something special as well, she would sometimes even attach small messages to it, wishing me good luck for exams etc. As for the accessories, they are really cute! Unfortunately those kind of accessories are pretty hart to get were I currently live, so I’ll try my luck. Hanne (currently in the UK, will be back in Germany for Christmas)

Fun Giveaway!!

I’m in the United States, and a busy (and distracted) mom myself. I try to make myself and my 7-year-old son a Bento a few times a week, but as often as not my husband ends up sending him to school with some sort of sandwich and snack food. I love the accessories and they would be a welcome addition to my very small bento accessory collection. Love the blog too, lots of good ideas.

Awesome!!

I love these!! My daughter turned me onto bento and I have been a fan of your’s for awhile now.

Kim Texas

So Cute :) Texas, USA

So Cute :)

Texas, USA

When is Greenwich Mean Time?

When is Greenwich Mean Time? All I know is that its 1030 in Australia, 03 Dec 08 (its a Wednesday) and I’m supposed to be doing my work!

Location? Australia of course! I spend waaay too much time printing recipes from your site!

I love the story!

What a wonderful story. My name is beastmomma and I live in the United States.

I LOVE all things Bento!

Hi! I live in California, USA. I used to live in Japan as an exchange student and I love the whole idea of the bento! It’s a such a smart and chic way of preparing your own lunch!

oh my

bento newbie needs accessories!!!!

Thanks for offering up such a great set to the lucky winner.

TJ in US

Congratulations from Tokyo, Japan

Thank you for a great website! I love reading your stories and trying your recipes. Keep up the great work.

awww....

Your mum sounds really quite funny, in a good sort of way. I think I like her already… ^^ and I’m rather impressed - did you cut the carrots by hand? it must have taken ages…

SiehYean Aberdeen, UK

aww

The plain rice story made me remember forgetting my lunch in kindergarten… my teacher gave me cookies. :D

Those apple accessories are to cute for me not to enter for!

Stacey

Michigan, USA

Awww...

Your mum sounds really quite funny, in a good sort of way. I think I like her already, from your description… ^^

love the little apple containers!

with love, SiehYean Aberdeen, UK

PS: eh…. the comment didn’t register the first time. how odd. I’m trying again, and I’m sorry if it ends up posted twice… :$

I Like Raw Carrots

But then, I like raw cabbage, too. Thanks for the giveaway!

Lisa, Hawaii, U.S.A

its so cute!

oh i love the little apple containers! i hope i win!

Rachael, california US

Entering!

I’ve only just recently started reading your blog. I’ve already earmarked some of the recipes for making my own bentos.

And I love the give-away for today! I’m starting student teaching soon and these accessories would make for a good teacher bento :) So please include me in the contest.

-Marg from the USA