Woke up this morning burning all over, with my left eye swollen half closed and my legs on fire. Who knew mosquitos could be so irritatingly effective at having me stumble around like a pile of marshmallows on stilts in the early morning, in this gorgeous hand-built wooden country house in Saitama. Or the itchy culprit might be the bug spray I patted onto my face. Ugh.
On to a sweeter topic- Yesterday was my second day of training and I got to see all the kiddos’ handmade bentos. Apparently the majority of the food is freezer stuff microwaved to life but the odd kid or two has a lovingly crafted and adorable little lunch box. The bento culture is really strong in Japan, with its origins in gorgeous lacquered boxes in the Japanese imperial court in the Kamikawa Period (1185 – 1333). I actually studied one such box that traded hands from the Japanese royal court in the Edo Period (1603 – 1868) to the Chinese Imperial Court. To the chagrin of my art history professor, I mixed up a few dates in my final paper which is a mortal sin: proof that I’m not cut out to be a historian.
Anyways, back to the topic at hand: BENTO–>
The corn kernels are little beaks. Can I say adorable?
By the way, there are some pretty extensive videos published by NHK’s Japanology on bento culture and preparation.
The kids usually get to help prepare and cook delicious organic food in the kitchen with the teachers and Nancy, who is a professional chef. Nancy is currently on book tour right now, for her new book Preserving the Japanese Way, teaching classes all over the States for two months. I connected her to the gardenhaus cooperative at Reed College, my alma mater, to teach a cooking class and am exited to hear how it goes. Anyways, yesterday was daycare and school starts today, so today we will all cook together.
Pictures to come!