Lunchbox Aesthetics

Christchurch art commentator Denis Dutton is invited by The New York Times to discuss beauty and the Japanese bento box. What does the care devoted to the visual details in a packed lunch suggest about the culture? Why is such value placed on aesthetics in everyday life in Japan? Dutton begins: “While preparing attractive bento box lunches is an honorable and inventive craft, the travelling lunch box is not unique to Japan.” “Take a look at the history of the lunch pail and the lunchbox in America, with an efficient Thermos bottle tucked in the lid. By the middle of the 20th century, children’s versions were decorated with the likes of Mickey Mouse and Hopalong Cassidy.” “Is a cleverly assembled bento box lunch a work of art? Such elevation of decorative crafts to the status of ‘art’ seems superfluous to me. Call it an art form if you wish, but such words add nothing to the pleasure of the bento lunch.”


Tags: Denis Dutton  Hopalong Cassidy  Japan  Mickey Mouse  New York Times (The)  United States  

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