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Bento: Design for Eating, Gathering and Communicating

The bento lunch box has played a major role in Japanese people's lives for centuries. Hundreds of years ago, the custom of using lunch boxes, usually containing food to share with others, helped maintain good relationships, not only between individuals, but also between communities in an agricultural society. It's not surprising, then, that bento boxes often have stories behind them that reflect the work of their makers and the personalities of their owners.

In an artistic study of Japanese food culture, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum looks at the role of bento in contemporary design by featuring eight artists, including the "fermentation designer" Hiraku Ogura. Edo Period (1603-1868) bento boxes, contemporary installations and other works will also be on display. (Yukari Tanaka)