Bento box of the week: Magewappa bento box from northern Japan
_Magewappa_ means bent woodware; it's a traditional hand craft of Odate, which is located in Akita Prefecture in northern Japan. Straight grained pieces of Akita cedar are bent in circular shapes to form the sides of containers. The bent wood is then fastened with a contrasting dark bark or wood strips.
There's been a resurgence in the popularity of magewappa ware, so it's made around the country, but this box comes from Akita, where I think the craftsmanship is still the best.
The handmade, made-to-order magewappa bento box, designed by Yoshinobu Shibata, is oval in shape with a divider inside. It's unfinished wood, but there's no fear of it rotting since the Akita cedar is so durable. It also has a lovely smell which seems to enhance whatever is put in it. (I don't have this exact box, but I have an Akita cedar bowl which still has a very faint woodsy smell.) You do have to take care of it by washing it separately and drying it well between uses, but it should last forever if handled gently. (Edit: see more about Akita cedar here.)
I think that the shape looks very modern, even though it's a traditional shape. Rice eaten from this box would be wonderful, since the unfinished wood absorbs any excess moisture. I might be tempted to carry any oily or saucy food in another container though.
- Price: 8,400 yen for the large or the small box
- Dimensions for the smaller box: 16 X 10.5 X 5.5 cm (the lid is 16 X 10.5 X 2.5 cm, and the bottom part is 16 X 9 X 4.6 cm)
- Dimensions for the larger box: 20.4 X 12.6× 6 cm (the lid is 20.4 X 12.6 X 2.8 cm and the bottom part is 19.2 X 11.8 X 4.6 cm)
(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.)
[Update:] While this exact box is not available, Bento&co now carries several genuine magewappa bento boxes, available for shipment worldwide. Check them out! (Disclaimer: Bento&co is a Just Bento advertiser...but we love their products regardless.)
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