The Japanese have been using bento boxes for hundreds of years. A bento box is a multilayered plastic or wood box consisting of various food items arranged, styled and presented in an attractive way and taken to work, school or picnics for lunch or snack. Japanese restaurants always have bento assortments on their menus.
It has evolved into a creative way for Japanese mothers to add joy to their childrens' day while away at school. Each bento is a form of self expression and uniquely created for that meal. Bento may also be purchased in train stations, convenience stores, department stores and bento stores for those on the go.
Kyaraben is the practice of creating food to look like comic or cartoon characters.
Oekakiben is the practice of shaping food into animals, people, buildings, flowers and plants.
a typical restaurant bento
a more simple American mom style bento
Bento boxes are widely available in the US.