Plenus 米食文化研究所

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日本の食文化アーカイブ Bento Library



With the exportation of Japanese culture, bento culture is spreading across the globe. We're happy to see bento, a staple meal for the Japanese, being acknowledged as "bento" (without any change in name or pronunciation) and loved by people around the world.

In light of this, we decided to conduct our own research of local bento cultures from different countries in a series called "Bento From Around the World." We interviewed local bento shops and people from different countries to gain answers to questions like "How are people from different countries engaging with bento and what do they think about it?" "What kinds of local bento are there that are informed by the national character and food culture of each location?"

How is the bento culture which has continued for 400 years being received globally?
In "Bento Around the World," we'll be introducing the current state of the bento culture that is going global.

World Index

  • Paris
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Ho Chi Minh City
  • USA・テキサスの弁当 インタビュー:BENTO PICNIC

    The city of Austin is located in the heart of the American state of Texas.
    Austin is undergoing a boom as the second city of the American high-tech industry, earning the nickname of Silicon Hills in the style of Silicon Valley. The city boasts a high rate of population growth with its reputation for being the nicest place to live in the United States, and it is home to a friendly people with refined tastes. Recently, there are more and more vegetarians (whose diets are based around plant-based foods, but allow eggs and dairy) and vegans (whose diets are based around plant-based foods such as vegetables and grains, and are stricter than vegetarian diets in that no animal products such as meat, eggs, or dairy may be consumed).
    The Texas Farmers' Market at Mueller is an event where visitors can enjoy freshly-harvested vegetables and dishes that use them. On the day of our report, Bento Picnic, who provided bento based primarily on vegetable ingredients, attended the event enjoyed by a bustling crowd of people.


    Venue: Mueller Lake Park
    Date: October 16, 2016   10:30〜13:00


    Owner and chef:  Leanne

    Sales staff:  Zack

    Tell us about your first encounter with bento.

    After I attended a culinary school in the United States, in 2011, I went on a homestay in Izu, surrounded by tea fields at the foot of Mount Fuji.
    The first bento I ate was something I bought in Tokyo on my way to Izu.
    I don't remember what it was called, but I do remember taking a photo of the train station bento box I bought then.

    What feelings or impressions did you have then?

    I was impressed by the flavor of the bento and the features of its individual components.
    The food that you can buy at places like airports in the U.S. doesn't taste that great.
    But in Japan, it tasted great even though you could just buy it at a train station.
    It was a culture shock. (Laughs)

    Why did you decide to open a bento shop in the U.S.?

    I was impressed by the basic essentials of Japanese cuisine, which come in the groups of odd numbers that Japanese people value, particularly groups of five:
    the five methods (raw (cutting), boiling, grilling, frying, steaming),
    the five flavors (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, spicy),
    the five colors (white, black, yellow, red, blue (green)),
    the five "appropriates" (the appropriate temperature, the appropriate ingredients, the appropriate volume, the appropriate technique, the appropriate atmosphere), and the five senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste).
    I thought that it'd make healthy food more fun if I were to introduce these basics of Japanese cuisine.
    So I started my bento business hoping to offer healthy, tasty food, using local produce bought at the Farmers' Market. The bento I make gives special attention to the five methods, the five colors, and the five flavors in particular.

    What is your most popular item?

    The most popular is our chicken salad. We roast organic chicken and use the juices to create the dressing, mix in homemade dill pickles and parsley, and serve it with fresh seasonal vegetables.
    It's most likely popular because chicken salad is a standard American meal. So by adding the basics of Japanese cuisine, it becomes something special that's different from ordinary chicken salad.
    Our second most popular item is our smoked salmon chirashi rice bowl.

    • Chicken salad

    • Smoked salmon chirashi rice bowl

    • Pork garden bento

    What goals do you have for the future?

    Currently, we're running a catering business, a booth at the Farmers' Market, and a small outlet at a gym, but I'd like to open a few stores. I'd like to make it so that our customers can actually come to one of our stores to buy bento and eat it there.



    39 yrs old, accountant

    How frequently do you eat bento?

    I don't eat it frequently, about once every two or three months.

    What is your favorite bento?

    I love all of BENTO PICNIC's bento. (Laughs)
    The one I bought today has chicken, potato salad, pumpkin, and quinoa.

    What was your first impression of bento?

    I thought it tasted great.

    Tell us about what you like about bento, or what you find amazing.

    I like how rather than having a lot of one thing, you get a small amount of a lot of different things. I also like the bento I normally eat, which has a few more features of Japanese cuisine.

    How frequently do you eat bento?

    This is my first time eating a bento from BENTO PICNIC, but I have bento from other places about once every two or three months.

    What is your favorite bento?

    Hmm, it's hard to choose! I like bento with ginger and miso chicken and salad.

    What was your first impression of bento?

    They taste great together. I was surprised that they could fit it all into one bento box.

    Tell us about what you like about bento, or what you find amazing.

    I love bento, and I think it looks great and tastes great. It's really unique how you can enjoy a lot of different flavors at once.


    30ysr old, interior designer

    Emily & Jazz

    Emily: 34yrs old,
    customer services department administrator

    Jazz: 37yrs old, entrepreneur

    How frequently do you eat bento?

    Emily About once every two or three months. /   Jazz About once a year.

    Why did you choose to buy bento?

    Emily Because it looked fresh and healthy! (Laughs)

    Jazz Same here. There are other places that sell it, and their bento is good too, so I thought I'd buy some again.

    What was your first impression of bento?

    Emily You can feel full without stuffing yourself.

    Jazz It's simple and elegant. I'm an engineer, so maybe I like things that are organized. (Laughs)

    Tell us about what you like about bento, or what you find amazing.

    Emily There's a wide range of options, and I liked how I could choose the ingredients I wanted.

    Jazz I don't know what "bento" means - does it mean that the contents are put into separate compartments? If that's what it means, that's what I like about bento. It's practical, and I hope that bento culture spreads in Austin.