Story of Bento: How it Changed the Food Industry

Story of Bento: How it Changed the Food Industry

Hmm, it normally comes in a wooden box, and served with chopsticks. That’s right, I’m talking about a bento box!

Bento, meaning “lunch box” in the Japanese language, is a staple food in Japanese culture. But have you ever wondered about how it became so well-known?

Today, you shall wonder no more, for we are going on a trip to explore the history of bento – together!

How it went from bento to Bento

It all started in the 5th century, when the labour class in ancient Japan needed a way to pack their lunches to work.

During those times, another food called “tonjiki” (modern-day Onigiri), being rice pressed into an egg-shaped ball, was used as portable food due to its convenient and dry properties.

From there, with rice balls including other side dishes, bento meals were developed as packed lunches.

As such, it traditionally contains a balanced diet to provide for the energy required throughout the day of strenuous chores (this is also why bento boxes resemble a seed box!).

So how different it is from the Bento in today’s society?

Soon after, bento was widely and positively accepted by the public. In the 19th century, it even made its way into the upper-class society!

Today, while retaining some traditional elements such as the lacquered wood box, it was basically reinvented as a sectioned meal box (let’s hope modern farmers won’t confuse their lunch with seed boxes…).

At this point, it became the definition of packed meal. It can basically be found anywhere: from convenience stores to train stations – to even street stalls!

It plays such a huge role in the Japanese society that parents often compete among each other to prepare the best bento for their children!


Do you know that not all bento is tender love and care?

Shikaeshi (revenge) bento is made with … creativity, usually of raw ingredients or bitter messages written with nori seaweed.

Really makes you think twice before crossing the one preparing your lunch everyday…


But hey, is Bento just the one box, or is it many – actually, why don’t you explain?

Sure, it’s actually a very simple concept! Bento boxed meals are just like our Foodie Box: it’s the name for a type of meal.

Like our Foodie Box, it comes in different types of food, ranging from Western to Japanese, to Korean – ahem, anyhow I digress.

Anyways, to further discuss, here are some of the most popular bento in Japan!

Starting with the classic Makunouchi-Bento! Traditionally consumed during theatre intervals by both actors and audience, with rice and other side dishes to provide for a balanced diet.

Then, we have the simple Noriben! A no-nonsense meal box containing less that 4 ingredients, with a sheet of nori seaweed covering the rice (hence “nori” being in the name, makes sense eh?).

Moving on, the famous Ekiben! Usually found at train stations or on trains, featuring local specialties! These meal boxes are actually a premium product with higher quality, as opposed to what you might think!

Coming up next, is the large Koraku bento! Designed for a small group of people during outdoor gatherings, such as picnics or cherry blossom viewing.

Finally, I give you the Kyaraben! Featuring pop culture characters made out of food (edible Pikachu anyone?). Commonly prepared for children – but who’s to say adults can’t enjoy them?

Wow, it all sounds amazing! So, what’s next?

Hey-up! “Oh, but on what occasion might I need a bento meal?” you might ask.

Well, our bento boxes are perfect for office meals, meetings, event functions, gatherings, and celebrations of any sort!

If you are hosting any of them, then you are in luck! Because here at RunningMen Catering, we have a wide selection of Bento Meal Boxes, including Western, Malay, Chinese, and of course – Japanese cuisine.

You name it, we have (and will deliver) it!

Deeply inspired by the history of bento, all our meal boxes are also designed to offer a balanced diet for the more health-conscious of us. Besides, all our food is halal-certified so no worries there!

Aside from our satisfying food, we also provide 24/7 delivery within Klang Valley and will assign an exclusive account manager to keep you updated on your delicious meals.

With that, we thank you for joining us on this trip, and most importantly we hope you had fun delving into the history of such a popular concept!

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If you are on the hunt for an amazing bento dining experience with us, click the button below and we will get in touch with you!

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