So Naoto’s gone to Japan, again (wait Kirsten, no bitching, you married a Japanese salary man and you’re what….surprised? that he’s out of town on business. You should have thought of that before you joined the force)

Which means I get to make the bento for girl1 to take to her Japanese Saturday school. It only took me like, say, three months to get over my inadequacy feeling of “oh-no-what-if-girl1-sees-her-friends-bentos-with-apples-shaped-like-bunnies-and


at Kohitsuji preschool.

I just slapped together a good old PBJ sandwhich on days I wasn’t feeling all anal retentive Japanese about her bento.

But the Japanese school bento is a whole new level of anxiety. It’s like, full on Japanese mothers from Japan who are only staying in the US for like two years and so have brought like all their bento stuff and bento-making-DNA from Japan and are intent upon maintaining the cuteness level they are accustomed to in preparing their children’s lunches.

So like, how long does it take you to make a school lunch for your child? I remember making my own from like third grade. Two pieces of bread. Spread peanut butter. Spread jam. Throw apple into bag. If I was lucky, throw bag of fritos into bag. Done in what, two minutes, tops?

Not so the Japanese bento. This involves MULTIPLE PANS in order to make. It involves miniature cupcake liners in order to neatly arrange each item inside the bento box so nothing touches.

American lunch, you just take out the paper bag, right? Japanese lunch involves box, finding that stupid metal piece that separates the rice from the other stuff that I always lose in the dishwasher, the chopsticks, the chopstick carrying box, a rolled up washcloth in a baggie for her to wipe her hands, and a large handkerchief to tie around the bento box because they really want the children to learn to tie a handkerchief around their bento box.

(this is a skill I can see girl1 happy to have in the future. I speak Japanese and English, I like art and science, and oh yeah, I can tie a handkerchief around a box in five seconds flat)

You can’t just slap any old thing inside that bento box, either. There must be AT LEAST three items in the box, one of which must be a vegetable, one must be a rice ball or rice with dried seaweed sprinkled on it, and one must be some delicious fried food item thingy. (girl1 gets chicken nuggets and taquitos, but I’ve seen miniature crab cream croquette, pieces of pork cutlet, etc in her friends’ bento)

And that’s not even venturing into the realm of seaweed salads or noodle salads or hard boiled eggs cut like flowers or simmered vegetables such as moutain potatoes, burdock, or lotus root.

Sigh. Why oh why didn’t someone tell me I would have bento stress if I married a Japanese man?

Just look ! Do you see what I’m up against?