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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great way to get started!!

I live in southern Indiana, and I haven’t been able to get started with my bentos becuase I want to make cute ones, but there are no supplies in this state :( and shipping is usually more than the items cost…I’d love to win to get started the right way!!!

How generous!

I’d love these!

Mandal in Australia

I quite enjoyed your story.

I quite enjoyed your story. I’m sure we all can relate with some kind of story of our own. Thanks for sharing =)

Desiree United States

maki, you rock!

It’s my birthday too! :D

My name is Gina of Tampa, Florida, USA.

If I win I will send you something back as a thank you!


awww they are just so cute!



These are so cute X3 I’m

These are so cute X3 I’m just getting starting in bento-ing!

Moving :)

I almost laughed and cried when I thought of the situation of finding raw carrot flowers and cabbage in a bento. These anecdotes are great.

Thanks and please keep up your wonderful blogs.


Claudia Guerrero Mexico City, Mexico

A funny mum

Oh, I’m a forgetful person like ur mum too, used to forget this and that! :b

Kelly Yeo, Malaysia

Cool stuff!

I’d love to win :)

I’m in the U.S. Thank you for the giveaway!

Your childhood seems like

Your childhood seems like fun, and I plan on making mine fun too! Hehe, the items are so cute — I think they’ll be great when I make the family’s lunches.

Love From Australia

Awww, that carrot thing was

Awww, that carrot thing was sad… ;___; USA

Country - USA

Country - USA

You know, I also didn’t

You know, I also didn’t know that you were supposed to cook carrot flowers, ahahah.. when I realized how much I disliked raw carrots though I decided to cook them. Your stories remind me a bit of the manga Aishiteruze Baby, where the main character has a bento made for her but opens it up at school to find only one single rice ball inside

love the site!

Hi there,

I’ve been following your site in Australia since I stumbled across it when I was looking for japanese recipes. Love all your bentos and will try and recreate some of the ones listed on your site!

n0okii from Melbourne, Australia :)

still miss my old lunchbox and thermos

I still remember when I got my first lunchbox.. it was a yellow one with snoopy on it. I had just switched schools and the new school was an all day school so I had to take a lunchbox. I think my grandmother was sad about it when she heard of about my lunches. No self respecting greek grandmother (from Constantinople) would send her grandchild off without a proper meal.. To this day, every time I see a thermos or a lunchbox and now bento box, I still think about my yellow snoopy lunchbox. Eleftheria , Greece

I check your websites

I check your websites everyday in the morning. They always put me in a good mood Scotland UK

So many comments!

I am from Sydney, Australia. :)

those are way too

those are way too cute…

Rachel, USA

sorry, i mistyped my email

sorry, i mistyped my email on my comment XD

i falled ... love with bento and this site I wish the giveaway. This so cute! viele Grüße from Germany


adorable! Eileen (singapore)


What I love about Bento, something cute, yet functional!

Thankyou for your great and inspirational blog posts



Wish I can be like ur mom

How I wish I can be like ur mom - to pack bento for the kids. I used to get packed lunch from my mom, before I get married. I will bring the home-cooked lunch to the office to eat in the afternoon. Everyone is envy as my mom is a good cook, and she cooked soup for us almost everyday. Now I become a mother too. My daughter is 2 yrs old. I would love to make bento for her when she starts to go kindy soon. I’m think it’s not too late for me to start learning to make bento now. :)

cheers Cheeyee from Malaysia

*heart* BENTO!

I love this blog LOTS!!! I would dearly love to win this little batch of goodness! USA!


Oh wow, very cute stories yet saddening at the same time. But i admired your mom who’s been a busy mom she is, yet she still managed to make bento lunches for you and your sister. As we all know how busy a mom can be nowadays! ^_^

StRaw8erry, Indonesia

I've been looking for those!

Great story! Your bento site has been very helpful since I’m on WW. Is there an online store that has the little tool for veggie cutouts? I’m lucky enough to have some good resources where I live, but these have eluded me.
Marlena, ATL in the US

I want it!

Great stuff, I hope I win! USA

I am inspired

Happy anniverary! Your blog was the one that inspired me to start making bentos for myself and my 4 yo son. Thank you!

From Singapore


Congratulations on the anniversary! This set is one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. I hope you will be able to give us many more years of delicious bento blogging!

Location: UK

Location: UK

Wonderful idea!

I am just learning to make bentos, everything is so wonderfully cute! Thanks for sharing your memories with us.

Forgot to add - from United

Forgot to add - from United States.

Thanks for sharing!

Congrats on your anniversary!! Sara from CO, United States :)



Bento is the best!

I love your page. Keep up the great work and thank you so much for thinking of your readers like this!

Laura - United States

Those mini onigiri makers

Those mini onigiri makers are too cute. Happy Anniversary! Devlyn, PDX, USA

happy B'day

…I wish i where a rabbit in a hat

Mils - USA

I’d love these for my

I’d love these for my grandkids! New Zealand - and again, it’s NOT midnight GMT yet, but the previous post is closed. Something wrong with the technology I think.

Oh, yes please!

Name: Berit

Country: USA, NJ

This is also a cute story!


Those are just too cute! I’d love to have a set, where did they come from? (Just in case I don’t win! ^_~) I’m told Washington is apple country, so it would be way too adorable to have apple-themed bento…!

Zoey Olympia, WA USA

Now, what was wrong with these carrots? :)

I can understand that if you wanted cooked carrots as opposed to raw ones, you’d be disappointed. Me, however, I’ll eat them raw whenever I have the choice. Thank you for a sweet story. I think most people remember some incident of childhood despair over things that might seem trivial to an adult. You helped me remember mine, and I’m grateful for that.

Christine from Brussels, Belgium

fun accessories

These are really neat prizes…good choice!

Anna, Queens NY USA

Location: USA

I’ve never tried shaped onigiri, beyond round and triangluar. This is exciting!

Oh this is SO great!

As a busy working single mom, this would be so cool!

Erika Michigan, USA


United States.

Oh my Lord, those are adorable little accessories, although I’m not sure if I could even figure out how to use all those (beginner here XD).

These are adorable! I would

These are adorable! I would love to use them.

Name: Scott Location: USA

oooooh! so many cute things!

oooooh! so many cute things! Nothing like that available around here! Love your blog, try my best to make cute bentos with regular supplies, but they are just not available other than online….

Mortimer’s Mom, Montreal, Canada

so cute!!

Hi, I ran into ur blog by accident and I am addicted to both sites. This set is too cute!! Happy Holidays =)

Yuri, Dominican Republic

Ohhh! those look so cool! I

Ohhh! those look so cool! I want em (you sure know how to temp a person) :)

location: USA