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New site feature: Sortable index pages

Now that there’s a comfortable amount of content on Just Bento, I’ve added two features to the site: an index page of all entries on the site, and a recipe only index. (The links are in the top navigation, on the left side of the page.) Both pages are sortable by title or date, and clicking on a category will take you to a page which lists all entries under that category. I hope you’ll find them useful!

Another character bento contest: Tamagotchi bento!

Here are some more achingly cute and amazing kyaraben (character bentos) to enjoy, from yet another contest. This time it was one sponsored by Bandai, makers of various video games and the infamous Tamagotchi. The bento contest had three divisions, and the results were just announced yesterday. This is the winning bento in the Tamagotchi division.

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Yes I know, I said “!!!!!!!!” when I saw that too.

You can check out the creator’s own blog (in Japanese of course), where she has many more closeups of her amazing creation in this entry. Her blog has lots of how-to entries and closeup photos of various bento goods, so it’s definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of the cute bento style. (Her profile says she makes kyaraben for her 2 year old and 4 year old kids.) continue reading...

A tale of two bentos

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Two very different Japanese bentos, both contest winners, both made with love. continue reading...

Bento boxes of the week: Lube Sheep and Bay Asuka

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If you’ve ever bought an inexpensive small bento box at a 100 yen shop or via eBay, the chances are pretty high that it was made by one company, Nakano Co.. They are the ones responsible for the bento boxes carrying the mysterious Lube Sheep logo. After visiting their company web site, I still have no idea what it actually means, and it probably doesnt mean anything at all - it’s just a cute piece of Japanglish that someone in the company thought sounded good. (Yes, I know it sounds a bit dirty, but let’s try not to go there.) continue reading...

Bento boxes of the week: Lacquered with bitter persimmon juice

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The last couple of featured bento boxes have been strictly practical. This week I’m returning to the realm of the sublime, with these handcrafted wooden and lacquered bento boxes from Akita prefecture in northern Japan. continue reading...

Improved bento archive list

I’ve boosted the information on the bento archive list - the completed bento how-tos are the heart of the site after all. Instead of just a simple listing of thumbnails, each bento now has the Time needed, Calories, Type and Protein sources (which indicate whether a bento is vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore) indicated. So, now you can scan the page for the bento that suits your time, calorie, or eating preferences.

Shiso is the best herb to grow for bento making

I don’t know where the days are going. It’s already February 15th, and time to decide which vegetable and herb seeds to get for spring. (For me, flowers come in a distinct second after edible gardening.) This weekend I’m going to try to be a bit more organized than most years and sort through the seeds I’ve kept from last year, and figure out what I need to order.

If you are a gardener, even if your garden is limited to some pots on a sunny windowsill, if there’s one herb you should try to grow it’s shiso. Shiso, or perilla to give its botanical name, is a very refreshing herb that can be used in all manner of ways. For bentos though one interesting aspect of shiso is that it has some antibacterial qualities. That’s one reason why you see green shiso leaves being used as a garnish with sashimi. You can use the fully grown leaves as edible dividers, to wrap rice or meat or other things, and a lot more. See this bento from last summer where I used salted shiso leaves as onigiri wrappers. I love shiso-wrapped onigiri, they taste so fresh! I think that shiso is used quite a lot in the winning Hello Kitty bento too (for the head wrapper and the paws). continue reading...