Bento And Anime - A Deliciously Cold Yet Warm Relationship

Bento And Anime - A Deliciously Cold Yet Warm Relationship


Find out how a simple sandwich leveled up into a Japanese-style bento box through influences of anime and manga!

Translated by Jasmine Nishino

Written by 崛起智世子

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In Japan, a lunch box is referred to as a bento bako.

In pop culture, most Western-style lunches usually have a sandwich and apple with other simple, but sumptuous foods included in the meal. However, Japanese bento boxes contain small amounts of various dishes and are arranged colorfully.

Photo by Ricardo Velasquez

An example of a western-style lunch box Photo by Ricardo Velasquez

Photo by babykins.

An example of a Japanese lunch box Photo by babykins

Japanese bento culture began to spread widely, starting from France and spreading to other European countries and America. This lunch with many small dishes squished into a box became a popular phenomenon all over the world.

In Paris, there even is a bistro that provides bento boxes. In bookstores and manga shops of France and America, you can find many recipe books and items used to make bento for sale.

So, how did people outside of Japan discover the Japanese bento?

The Relationship of Anime, Manga, and Bento

In Japanese anime and manga, there are many scenes with a bento involved in them that often plays an important role in the story.

For instance, popular anime such as "Evangelion" and "Spirited Away" along with recent series such as "One Week Friends" all contain a scene with a bento involved.


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When anime fans outside of Japan saw Shinji making a bento or the scene where Haku received a rice ball from Chihiro, and wondered what they were eating, interest in Japanese cuisine and specifically in bento culture started to grow. Japanese anime and manga were one of the reasons people began to discover the bento, and lately, people outside of Japan have created their own take on bento, making some amazing artistic works of their own.

Photo by AikoVenus

Photo by AikoVenus

The Japanese bento met with the food cultures of other countries and has become an international sensation!

Not Just Kawaii! The Tasty Effects of Bento

Many people around the world now know that Japanese bento is not just cute but also very delicious. However, the bento is not all about the looks and the taste. It also cuts down the cost of food and is also a way to continue eating a healthy and well-balanced lunch.

Also, the moment you open a bento box brings joy and excitement to people of all ages.

For those who are working hard at work or at school every day, lunch may be the only time for you to relax and enjoy a meal.

Photo by babykins.

Photo by babykins

Aside from boxes with insulation functions, the contents of the bento tend to be cold. But having your very own bento with many of your favorite dishes or treats made in cute designs or done to look like anime characters will surely bring warmth to your heart. Why not try making one of your own - you might find it a new hobby of yours!

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