Hey, a new series! Every week on or around Wednesday, I’ll be featuring a bento box or bento accessory that has caught my eye for some reason. I’ll try to stick to items that can be ordered online as much as possible, unless it’s something truly exceptional.
Important notice: This bento box can be selected as your prize in the Menu for Hope  drawing!
When you start to make bento, you can, and should, start with a utilitarian one that you can bash around a bit. But more you make bento, the more you want to start to collect different ones. While most bento boxes seem to be cute, there are some which are just breathtakingly beautiful, such as this one.
This week’s bento box is this gorgeous bento box  that is carved out of a single block of keyaki, Japanese elm. It is then lacqured with real urushi lacquer , not polyurethaned like cheaper models. It is made by a 148 year old company called Yoshihiko, located in Nagano Prefecture - an area also known for growing some of the best rice in Japan.
You might wonder how practical wood is as a material for a bento box. You can’t microwave it, and you have to hand wash it and hand dry it carefully. But many people consider wood to be the best material for a bento box, since it absorbs some of the excess moisture from the rice, making it taste really good.
The one-level bento box with a removable divider comes with a matching box for the chopsticks, which are made of a harder wood, plus a cloth bento wrapper.
(If you are interested in buying any of these featured Japanese bento boxes and you don’t have a relative or friend in Japan to help you out, try the overseas shipping services listed on this page . Note this is not an endorsement of any of these services since I have not tried them myself, but they do get positive reviews from readers.)