A few weeks ago we, the Bento&Co team, all boarded a train together and headed to Ishikawa prefecture (on the Sea of Japan Coast) to visit our Japanese manufacturers. We wanted to have a deeper insight on the work and people involved in the making of the bento boxes you can find on our website.
(btw notice how Google maps show you the timetable of train and plane for your travel!)
Ishikawa preferecture's main city, Kanazawa is also known as the "Little Kyoto". The food there (mainly fish and sushi) is delicious and far less expensive than in Kyoto. There are also a lot of Japanese onsen (hot spring) and its handicraft sector is pretty famous.
The first part of that travel lead us to the factory and workshop were boxes are made from raw plastics. This process requires a lot of technics to get this "Japanese" quality, and big, bulky press machines handled by skilled employees.
These factories not only produce boxes for bento suppliers but also for Japanese well-known chain such as Sukiya .. and Mos Burger! It could be cheaper to have them manufactured in other part of Asia but when you are looking for the best quality and flexibility, nothing beats local production.
Indeed the activity is not limited to bento boxes but also includes other products like these plates designed for a famous "Kaiten sushi" chain in Japan. You may see them next time you come to japan. ;)
Once the different parts of the boxes are moulded and ready, the patterns are written on them by a silkscreen paint artist. Thanks to a special pencil, a complex machine and hours of dedicated works (step after step), the craftsman'll finally get to that beautiful result: a perfect Kokeshi Bento! Can you feel all the efforts and skills it needs for a single box? :)
Check the video at the bottom of this page to have a better idea of the technics used. =)
It was then already time to have a good lunch and we went to a local sushi restaurant. You don't get tricked there: Sushi are delicious and BIG! (^^)
But it was already time to head for the next step of our travel: Hakoya's factory, our favorite manufacturer! The place is clean and very bright, and you can tell at first glance that the atmosphere is really friendly. They love their work, stay focused and do it well but never forget to smile. :)
On the following pics, you can see Hakoya's female workers packing boxes and get them ready to be sent (to Bento&Co, for instance).
Could you recognize this long pink box? Come on, it's the Dai Neko! (^^ )/ They truly are taking good care of them.
Now you almost know everything about the making of our bento boxes from Ishikawa. The technics are virtually the same for the other local producers (like Showa). By the way here is a secret photo of their incoming products, just for you:
What do you think about these colorful mugs and lunch boxes? We hope you like their modern style and design (remember the Bento Colors collections?). (^^)
Finally, i have a special message from Ishikawa artisans and addressed to all our customers: they are so glad and proud to know that the fruit of their labors is being enjoyed and used to cook fantastic bentos all around the world.
At Bento&Co, we'd like to thank them, and you, for making it all possible! And we'll keep doing our best to promote this culture and our passion. Mata ne!