The Japanese Lunchbox

I've recently been acquainted with a new form of food styling. One which is fun and adds to the interest and esthetics of the eating experience (yes my slow food movement self is showing itself!). The best part is that this can lend itself to both breakfast or lunch, and sometimes even to the dinner experience.

One of the best things about this type of lunchbox is that it's reusable and cuts down on refuse and excess. It's also a fabulous way to portion control your meals.

The Japanese Bento, or Obento, is the technique of placing food in a creative and artistic fashion to seem like flora, fauna, or imaginary characters. Children's obentos include popular characters such as hello kitty.

The basics of the obento is the portion and the implements:
1) Implements: lunchbox with compartments, rice shapers, seasonings, leftovers, chopsticks and lunch bag
2) food must be along these general guidelines: 4 portions rice, 3 portions protein, 2 portions vegetables, 1 portion pickle or dessert.
3) Creativity

Some excellent resources to learn more:
Bento Wikipedia
Japanese Box Lunches
Bento Boxes on Flickr
Japanese Food on About.com
Jbox.com Bento lunchboxes