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On the school-mandated ‘Bento Day,’ Japanese students are learning how to prepare balanced bento box lunches on their own. The segmented lunch boxes are meant to keep portions of food (typically leftovers) separate and are an enormous part of Japanese culture.
In these ‘Bento Day’ programs, a student’s responsibilities increase with age. At first, elementary school students work together with their parents to help select and shop for bento box lunch ingredients. By middle school, they’re slightly more autonomous but still enlist their parents’ help shopping. By junior high, however, students are planning and preparing their own balanced bento box lunches.
‘Bento Day’ was thought up by Kazuo Takeshita, a longtime principal, after concerns that parents and children weren’t spending enough time together.