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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Love your site

Thanks for sharing your tips, recipes and stories. I’m hooked.

Cute apples

Wow, those are amazingly cute. Cheers.

  • Foo (BC, Canada)

my wife would love

my wife would love these!!!

los angeles, usa

these are too cute.

these are too cute.

sorry maki. i forgot to

sorry maki. i forgot to leave my country in my previous comment. los angeles, ca, usa. thanks.

Cute!

I can’t find this sort of thing even at the Japanese stores in my area!

Al, California U.S.

Cute!

I can’t find this sort of thing even at the Japanese stores in my area!

Al, California U.S.

These are great

Perfect for those bentos :)

USA

sjt in tx Such cute

sjt in tx Such cute accessories! Not something seen here in rural Texas. Yes, I live in the boonies, but bento lunches are the best method of portion control I have found, so I make do. Without the help of Just Bento, the recipes and the ideas, I would never have been able to even try making bento meals. In fact, we plan to try a restaurant in Washington DC that serves bento lunches. Providing the 4 million other expected inauguration guests don’t make the line too long! Thanks for the wonderful website! PS my grandson Leo tells me he “needs” the little bottles for soy sauce, LOL. [We are an extended family of 6 living together, grandparents, grandkids and their Mom..makes for wild and crazy fun!]

Raw Carrots?

So carrots always get cooked in Japan?

I think I’m going to add carrot flowers to my next bento!

gyoza w/ no rice , no

gyoza w/ no rice , no problem! haha

Celine in Los Angeles, CA

I love hearing you stories.

I love hearing you stories. Those are some VERY cute bento-ssecories. I’m excited about the chance of winning!

Lily - Seoul, South Korea

wahhh. i would really enjoy

wahhh. i would really enjoy using these when i start packing bentos when my internship starts again!

Oooh my girlfriend would

Oooh my girlfriend would love to be able to make some bentos with those accesories. Pretty hard to come across in canada :)

I think we all have funny

I think we all have funny stories like that… mine was that my mom was continually forgetting to pack me a spoon to go with my jell-o pudding cups. I eventually perfected a method of folding the foil cover into a makeshift spoon. :)

I’m from Canada, btw.

Jade.

Oh, the bento items are so

Oh, the bento items are so cute. I love the Ringo. :)

Resa, US