Shokado bento (松花堂弁当)

Shokado bento is a meal in a box, whose inside is divided into sections in a cross pattern and has a lid with high sides.

Sashimi (sliced raw fish), grilled food, boiled food, rice, etc. are arranged into separate compartments within the meal box to be visually appealing. The ultimate arrangement is an assortment of rice and various dishes, and said to be somewhat similar to the Makunouchi bento (boxed meal). However, the history of Shokado and Makunouchi boxed meals differ substantially: Makunouchi bento has its origin in honzen ryori (formally arranged dinner), while Shokado bento has its origin in Kaiseski tea ceremony dishes.

The name 'Shokado' is associated with Shojo SHOKADO (1584 - 1639), a priest attached to Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine (Yawata City, Kyoto Prefecture) in the early part of the Edo period. Shojo made the box inspired by a container used by farmers to hold seeds: a box like container with sides and used it as a paint box or a tobacco tray.

The development of this container from the origin into the Shokado meal box took several hundred years. In the early 1930's, 'Kitcho' Japan's preeminent restaurant in Osaka was established by Teiichi YUKI who heard about the container while at Yawata and thought about using the container to hold food. As the container was divided into sections in a cross pattern, he thought the flavors and aromas of the foods would not melt into each other. Another view is that; Shojo SHOKADO served up food in the partitioned container noted above which amused his customers. However, perhaps this is a story made up by later generations or based on a misunderstanding.

It has been said that the ThinkPad notebook PC owes its concept design to the Shokado bento meal box.

[Original Japanese]