Dispatch #4: Japanese Lunch-box Art


It’s the eve of my departure for San Francisco. This has been a productive but compressed 3-week business trip.  I spent the day alternately lounging around the hotel suite, catnapping, listening to the excellent jazz station and reading the Taiwan News and The China Post newspaper.

If you want to get a sense of Japanese ingenuity and some might say compulsive obsession with precision and aesthetics, check out these photographs of lunch-box art created by Japanese housewives.   The images on these sites are not nearly as elaborate as the two photographs that appear in The China Post; however, I could not find the exact images on-line.

What do you think-human imagination at it’s best or just crazy in a dysfunctional way?


ICHIHARA, Japan: Kazumi Shimomura’s kitchen table is cluttered with tools not usually associated with cooking: A pair of tweezers, a razor knife and a digital camera. Her culinary style is just as unique. She sculpts rice colored with egg yolks into the shape of a dinosaur, fashions its eye with sliced cheese and strips of seaweed. Star-shaped pieces of okra adorn the belly.

“I just wanted my son to have fun when he goes to day care on Saturdays,” explains Shimomura as she uses tweezers to place tiny teeth-shaped bits of cheese in the dinosaur’s mouth.

Spending hours meticulously perfecting a meal that will be gobbled down in a school cafeteria by her 6-year-old son hardly seems like time well-invested.

But lunch-box art marries the age-old Japanese penchant for precision and aesthetics with the country’s modern, shrinking, affluent nuclear family, where fewer children mean moms have more time and money to lavish on their little emperors. The intricate presentations are also a public way for mothers – who often forgo careers to cater to their families – to demonstrate their devotion to motherhood, dedication to their children’s nutrition and creative skills.

(Excerpt from Frankenstein For Lunch)

I learned on this trip that it is common for Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese married men to keep concubines, take mistresses to “Love Hotels” and indulge in drinking binges to relieve the stress of being the supreme head of household and breadwinner.  Hmm, let’s see, womenfolk relinquish their careers and devote their time and creative energies into making elaborate lunch box art to feel appreciated by their children and to gain public recognition.  Menfolk get dey sex and drink on.  Hmmm.

I’m just saying, nah mean?

Heading home.


One Response to “Dispatch #4: Japanese Lunch-box Art”

  1. I’m loving your blogs. Looking forward to the next installment!

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