Japanese term, bento boxes are lunch boxes that Japanese mothers prepare for their children. It usually consists of a ball of rice, fruit and perhaps a fish cake.

The preparation of these bento boxes is taken very seriously. Ladies magazines in Japan devote whole sections on how to press the rice balls into a festive shapes like a panda or braid and color the fish to resemble a flag.

The boxes are routinely examined by the child's school teacher and if it's not up to snuff, a note will be sent home to shame the mother. Guilt and self-sacrifice are a large part of motherhood in Japan--most women don't receive epidural during labor and the main task of the "education mama" is to make sure the kids make it into the best schools. As a result of this even simple lunches become an elaborate gesture, kinda like origami.

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