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Obento

Obento

The Japanese word, Obento, seems to be getting accepted in Australia to call a set menu with rice served in a wooden box in a Japanese restaurant/take away shop.

The original word is 弁当(べんとう/bentou)and お/御 (o) is a prefix to make it polite. It can mean a packed lunch prepared at home to have it at school/work or a prepacked meal, usually in a box, you can buy/order from a shop/eatery. It usually consists of rice and a few other items to have with rice.
Most primary schools in Japan serve lunch at school (it is called 給食/きゅうしょく/kyuushoku) and children are not allowed to choose what they eat on the day, so when I was a primary pupil, I was looking forward to going to junior high so that I can have obento from home and not having to eat what I didn’t like!
Kyaraben
luckysundae [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]
These days, some families (usually mothers) prepare elaborately arranged obento and they are called キャラ弁(きゃらべん/kyaraben)- “character bento” or お絵描き弁(おえかきべん/oekakiben) -“picture bento.” Kyaraben are typically decorated to look like popular characters from アニメ (anime) or まんが (comic books). Oekakiben forms a picture of something. Contests are often held to compete for the beauty of these bento. – As a mother, I am happy to be in Australia – not having to feel challenged to prepare one like that!!

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