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JP 04-2: A Meal in a Box – Bento-弁当 (Obento-お弁当)

Owl's Lunch
We continue our conversation about bento, eating culture in Japan, England and the US, multitasking while eating, obesity, and more.

  • you do have to be more considerate of people’s space
  • the makeup thing is a strange sort of sexism, perhaps?
  • the manners poster campaign is aimed at high school girls with ginormous stylist bags not the regular person
  • it’s not a rule, it’s a suggestion: please do it at home
  • so when you come here, don’t eat your bento on the short train
  • Karamoon has seen girls eating candy bars/chocolate bars on trains
  • they’ll be eating with one hand and covering their mouths with another, being very coy: it’s out of embarassment
  • on his commutes, Karamoon would eat a Japanese apple the size of a baby’s head and he got some very strange looks (Ed. and no wonder)
  • you can get quite small obentos at convenience stores. ¥300 – ¥600
  • pretty good value: a vegetable, a protein: a bit of balance
  • look for the ones that don’t contain sausage, spaghetti and mini-hamburger, but the more traditional ones with seaweed, a bit of salmon, stewed veggies that have been cooked in soy sauce and sugar: those are probably healthier
  • lunch is generally the best value meal: you’ll go to your lunch restaurant for dinner and get a significantly more expensive menu
  • lunch is basically ¥1000 – they’ve all had no choice but to drop the price
  • so do make the effort to eat out for lunch
  • if you see shops with lots of lines, salary people, executives, office ladies, they can be pretty good, healthy and fresh
  • there’s the obento movement of making one’s own
  • Joi Ito’s sister is a bento person: visually amazing stuff, really a work of art
  • they’re quite standard for Japan: mothers put so much time into making them
  • things cut into face shapes, molds for the rice
  • some can be a bit unsettling
  • there’s no such thing as making obento the night before: they have to
    get up at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning: it’s a gift
  • when the kids no longer need them, because they’re going to get their lunch at school, it’s a big thing – the last obento
  • in England we don’t take food seriously at all
  • obesity is going to be one of the worst killers
  • American obesity is insane
  • supposedly many can’t meet US military standards, which given how bellicose we are, might be a good way to give peace a chance – have another candy
  • in Japan, food is made with care, it’s not rushed
  • if you see a noodle bar in a train station, it looks like fast food, but it’s actually good quality
  • if you see a salaryman eating in such a bar, they’re not reading, they’re not talking, they’re eating
  • whereas in the UK and the States, we’ll eat and do something else,
  • because it’s feels good to multitask – but it’s not good for your body; you should always take at least 20 minutes to eat
  • really quick meals mean your brain doesn’t feel it, even if you’re physically full
  • food is a huge thing in Japan – and generally the people are small and wiry, especially the elderly
  • they take their food seriously

  • Terri records the show on her iPhone3G
    Tom Toeda of fti studio mixes the show.
    image credit: meltong99
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    Next show theme?
    We’ll continue with Part 3 of ‘Bento’

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