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WIT Life #31: Bento Boys

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WITLife is a periodic series written by professional Interpreter/Translator/Writer Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken, 2000-03).  Recently she’s been watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese and sharing some of the interesting tidbits and trends together with her own observations.

A little while back I profiled the trend of men and bento making, and it appears to be going strong with advocates receiving the new moniker “Bento Boys.” I was recently doing some copy editing of a market research report which discussed this topic, and though it would be interesting to share as a follow-up. Previously I mentioned the “Oyaji Bento” blog, and this report highlights a blog of a similar nature called “Kyo no Bento.” Below is an excerpt from the report:

“Previously in Japan, frugality was a virtue but stinginess was not welcomed. Now the Japanese do not think someone is necessarily stingy when they are saving money in the process. There are increasing numbers of young, unmarried businessmen making their own lunches and bringing them to the office in bento boxes, and people call them “Bento Boys.” It is not only the economic downturn, but also a growing amount of young men who love cooking that has accelerated this phenomenon.

According to survey results announced by Intage, Inc. on October 30, 2008, 36% of respondants bring homemade bento boxes. Many of them stopped going out to eat and switched to bento boxes about a year ago, and they cite “lunch” as the cost that they have most reduced. Because of this boom bento boxes are selling well, some for as little as 250 yen. At Loft, a big variety store chain, sales of thermal lunch boxes have doubled and those of thermos bottles are 1.5 times greater than last year. Although shoppers are mainly women, the bestselling product is Zojirushi’s thermal lunch box for men, Mr. Bento.

'I started to take advantage of the Bento Box boom and make my own lunch. I am a Bento Boy.' So declares a 28-year old single businessman on his blog “Kyo no Bento” (Today’s Bento). Every morning he makes his lunch and uploads a picture of it to the blog. Many female bloggers have left him encouraging comments such as “Well done!” and “You’re nice.” Nowadays it is favorable for men to help around the house, so becoming a Bento Boy could be a strategy to lure women. As for the recent culinary habits of the fairer sex, yudofu (tofu hot pot) is currently a big hit among teenage girls. This is because tofu is cheap, healthy and it also works well for dieting.”

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In sports news, Japan’s first female pro baseball player, 17-year old pitcher Eri Yoshida, began spring training and looked

good throwing out her trademark knuckleballs. She joined the team Kobe 9 Cruise and its manager expressed excitement about putting her in the lineup when the time is right.

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