Ever wondered how our bento boxes are made?
Then take a trip with us to Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan—the home of famous onsen hot springs, the freshest sashimi, and master craftsmen, including those who make Japan's finest bento boxes!
Rice fields in Ishikawa
Most of our manufacturers are based in Ishikawa, which has a long legacy of artisanship in ceramics, textiles and lacquerware. The prefecture is picturesque, with many rice fields and forests that provide two major sources of industry for the region.
Bento box mold production
However, after rice and timber, the most famous exports from Ishikawa are tableware, chopsticks and bento boxes!
Let's take a look inside a bento box workshop.
Finished bento box molds
The majority of our boxes are made of durable, molded BPA-free plastic. The molds are made with heavy machinery (shown above) that sculpt raw metal into the desired mold shape (shown below).
The fabrication of the outer box, lids and dividers is all done in an industrial press (seen in the background of the photo above). The press works by heating and then blowing small plastic beads into the mold, which then forms the box. After pressing, the robotic arm drops the fresh pieces onto a conveyor belt below.
The man in the photo is responsible for the plastic box production. He has been perfecting this art for more than 15 years!
A mother and son duo applying food safe paint
After the parts are cooled, each piece is carefully coated in food grade paint that is specially formulated to emulate the look of traditional wood lacquer-ware. Each piece is meticulously examined for dust particles or any other imperfections that need to be removed and resprayed.
Next, one of the most technical and labor intensive aspects of the process, screen printing, is performed to apply each box's unique motif. Each color is applied one by one using perforated screens. This screen printing method is a full-time job requiring physical skills that take many years to master. Many of our boxes are handpainted as well.
These Kokeshi bento faces are printed and ready to become ninja, samurai, geiko…
Below is a fun peek at some Kokeshi prototypes, many of which have never been released.
Last, all of the pieces are brought to assembly rooms where they are put together, packaged and then sent to Bento&co!
Many skilled hands are required to produce, assemble and pack each one of our bento boxes at the quality standard demanded by the makers, by us and by our customers. These dedicated craftsmen take pride in continuing a tradition that dates back more than 400 years in Japan, and we couldn't exist without them.