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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So kawaii!

I love following your site! These are super cute and useful too!

Liz Lee Austin, TX USA

These are very cute!

It’s awesome of you to have such a great giveaway for you anniversary.

Sophie Honolulu, HI USA

Coming out of hiding to

Coming out of hiding to enter this and congratulate you on one year. If you’ve only had this blog for a year, I just may have been following it since the beginning.

Florida, USA

growing up

Your stories are so funny and remind me of Ruth Reichel’s ‘Tender at the Bone’! (Which I am sure, beyond doubt, that you must have read). How is it that with a parent so indifferent to food, a child can grow up with such a fascination and knowledge?

-Kayla (UK)

Ooooh, lovely

You’re bento information has been so helpful. Those dumpling look gorgeous!

Randee - Milwaukee, WI

Happy Continued Anniversary Celebration

I haven’t really gotten a chance to get into the whole kawaii bento thing, but I can definitely appreciate the cuteness of these gadgets.

Congrats again on your anniversary!

Country - U.S.

School Lunches

I also grew up in the us. My mom was always busy being a single mom with four kids. We often just got money to spend at the school cafeteria. I think bento’s are way better and hope when i have kids to be able to make them bentos.

Those are cute sauce bottles!

Aw. :) Kim, United States.

Aw. :)

Kim, United States.

Oh, what I could do with

Oh, what I could do with some decent Bento accessories instead of just fudging it all the time!

I love the memories, thank you so much for sharing with us!

Location: PA, USA

Great memories!

Thank you for sharing your entertaining stories and goodies with us.

I am in LOVE with Shinzi Katoh designs!!!!!!!

And with your blog!!!

Your story about the ‘botched’ bentos is fabulous!!

Eilish in NYS, USA

What great stories! The

What great stories! The things we remember from childhood…

-Karmatir from Iowa, USA

Inspiration for creative cooking

These are just the cutest cooking-related items — makes me want to run to the asian grocery and whip up something cutesy for my hunny … this way i get my fill of cooking and art all at once =p

How fun!

Location: Hawaii

What a great set of bento accessories!

Despite having grown up in

Despite having grown up in Australia, there’s still something totally comforting about having a rice bento. Somehow I have managed to escape being a sandwich person!

I’ve done gyoza bentos like that recently too. I just sprinkle a little seasoning on the rice, and have it with some steamed brocolli.

I’m in Australia.

I’ve never made kyaraben

I’ve never made kyaraben before, but… so cute! Hayley, Australia.

I love both of your blogs. I

I love both of your blogs. I can’t wait to start trying out all of these recipes!

Gina, USA

I find it quite difficult to

I find it quite difficult to find such get such cute stuff (at a cheaper price) here in the uk. It’ll be lovely to have them

Mr Ibrahim; Manchester, UK

A nice little accessory

A nice little accessory kit! USA

Just had to enter!

I love your site - I was so happy when I found out there was a site devoted to bento, in English and not that difficult for clumsy me. Still haven’t managed that much but I’m on the way. Many thanks!

The accessories were so cute I just had to give it a go!

Ana, from Spain

I’m just getting started

I’m just getting started with bento - these accessories would be lovely to have. Please enter me in the draw!

JJ from Canada

Cute stories

Great memories of your not so great lunches as a child. I would love to win the bento making stuff as I can’t seem to find anything in my town, and would love to make more creative lunches for myself and my kids.

Mel - Canada

Can't wait to use all of those

The accessories are so cute!!!!!!!!!!

thanks for putting up simple

thanks for putting up simple ways of making food look good, taste good and most importantly are healthy too. your timeline, the simplicity, and the calorie counts! which just adds on to why just bento is my favourite food blog, definitely makes life easier for the ‘elaborate dishes’-illiterate people like me!

I love your site and your

I love your site and your bentos! The food is always delicious and inspires me to make bentos more often. Those two stories are so touching and heart warming! And i just love flower shaped veggies of any kind! That giveaway set is just darling!! Anything kawaii and appley goodness is right up my alley :) Keep making great bentos!!

Alisha from Michigan United States.

Such fond memories

I love reading your memories and I have to say, we all have those ones that are not so “wonderful” but we remember them all the same and they make us who we are. Thank you for sharing that part of you with all of us!!

I hope when my kids look at the lunch I hav made them, they think.. “My mom is so cool for making me cute food” LOL

Leslie from Cali - USA

The dumplings look

The dumplings look delicious. But what happened to the cabbage leaf in your childhood bento? Lizzie Canada

So cute! The apple

So cute! The apple accessories are to die for!

United States

So cute!

Man, those look really cute!

Bento Giveaway Entry!

  • Your name (a nickname is ok) USA, Louisville KY



awww… mothers are the best. i miss my mom back home. she cooks my oatmeal every morning. -banana -japan

Love the Story

I can totally relate to your story. My family was on a pretty tight budget when I was a kid and my mom used to bake a lot of our bread. Occasionally she would swirl together white and wheat bread so that each individual slice had a pinwheel look to it. I was so embarrassed of those sandwiches. The popular girls in class always had peanut butter and jelly on perfect, snowy white, smooth and spongy slices of Wonder bread. Not this rustic homemade bread with its homemade fillingsl

I hindsight I cringe when I think about it. How lucky would I feel now, decades later, to find that someone had packed me a homemade chicken salad sandwich on homemade pinwheel bread? Little did my 7 year old self understand the goodness and love that went into those lunches packed by my mother.


I’m located in the US!

Adorable apple bits! New

Adorable apple bits! New reader from the US… Love all the cute l’il bentos.

Just started reading your

Just started reading your site. Such a great resource for bento making! I grew up in Japan (dad in the Navy) so a lot of Japanese food is “comfort food” for me. :)

Mmmmmmmm Gyoza Guys!!!!

Mmmmmmmm Gyoza Guys!!!!

I love making these in

I love making these in Edinburgh, UK.

Sounds alot like what my mom

Sounds alot like what my mom use to do to me!! Which I hope I never do to my child, just so it doesnt come back to haunt me in later years lol Location: USA, Pennsylvania

gyoza <3!

name: joyce country: USA

mmm, gyoza. i think i’ll make some for dinner now. :D

What cute faces!

I love the little >.< faces! Is there a site which I can find these if Im not a lucky winner? USA, Wyoming

Katy! Location: Canada

Katy! Location: Canada

Adorable stories! Colin,

Adorable stories!

Colin, United States

I’ve been hunting high and

I’ve been hunting high and low for these accesories here in my country! But unfortunately it doesn’t seem like the kawaii bento trend has caught on here. =( I can’t imagine the variety of bento accesories/equipment that are available in Japan!

Jas Min, Malaysia

Too Cute!

The apples are so cute! I got into cute bento accessories after I went to Japan two years ago.

My mother once did the same

My mother once did the same thing, haha!

-Katherine from the US

Happy Anniversary~!

My mom originally introduced me to your site and now when I go visit my parents, we pick out one of your recipes and try it out. These bento accessories would be awesome to play with.

Stephanie from California, USA


The bento looks great; can’t wait to try it out. And super cute bento accesories!

Steph, USA

Miami, FL (USA)

Shinzi Katoh makes such great bento designs.

I love your bentos

hi there,

I am still very new in this bento making :) but I like to visit your blog to look at those lovely bentos that you have prepared and all the bento tips that you posted :)

Keep up the good work and I am definately coming back for more :)

Location : Hong Kong

Congratulations on the

Congratulations on the anniversary!