JS1101 Content post
Name: Loh Ling Yin Queenie
Tutor: Tobias Fong
The Japanese Obentō- Not Your Average Lunchbox
The obentō, a common boxed meal in Japan, is known to be appetizing, nutritious and highly convenient. There are many types of obentōs in Japan, each with its own ascribed purpose and setting. This post will focus on the obentō made by Japanese mothers for their children’s school lunches. While this obentō is understood to be the Japanese version of the universal ‘lunchbox’, it is in fact laden with meanings beyond mere practicality, performing functions that are more far-reaching than its counterparts. That is not to say, however, that it stands alone in exclusive uniqueness. Admittedly, some of the points that will be raised are also observed in other cultures. My argument, however is that the Japanese obentō itself is an entity that performs multifarious roles in the Japanese society. It is ideologically driven, centred on the education of the child and inadvertently used as the measure of a mother’s commitment (Allison, 1991).
Firstly, the obentō is featured heavily in the countrywide move to institute shokuiku, ‘food education’ in schools. According to the Basic…show more content… The onigiri, meaning ‘to hold’, is a common fixture of the obentō, and Japanese Chef Shuko Oda eloquently equates it to ‘the warmth of your mother’s hand’ (Oda, 2014). The love that is invested in making the obentō also takes on a visual quality, as seen in the aesthetically pleasing presentation of food in obentōs, the result of the long laborious hours put in by mothers. By thinking of her child’s joy in consuming the obentō, a mother is better able to inject her love into her preparation (Peak, 1993). Love is also expressed in a mother’s skilful disguising of the food that her child dislikes, such as carrots (Allison, 1991), as it reflects well upon her concern for her child’s long-term well