Blame the Bento

I read in the Economist that young Japanese women are loath to have babies. Now ‘loath’ is a strong word, and the fact that it is coupled with a concept none more cuddlier and lovelier as babies, make the choice of word more significant. They are wondering why? Why this loathing?

I think the answer lies in their Bento boxes. If you know something about the Japanese, is that the children go to school replenished every day with cartoon characters-themed, cuteness-amplified food in their Bento boxes. Something that looks like this:


Now to prepare Bento boxes, the mothers actually attend Bento making classes – one must not ‘lose face’ when other mothers have immaculate Totoro-faced triangles and your child only has gummy rolled-up rice balls pretending to be little fishes.

Do they enjoy making these Bento boxes? I guess some do, but an even more accurate guess is that the majority just loath it. Loath it with a capital ‘L’. Submissively resentful with all their might while they squish and squash their anger  into those vinegared-rice perfections, angry that child-rearing (which is already a challenge without the ‘frills’ added), is complicated by something as trivial as the Bento box.

I don’t blame the Japanese women for loathing to have children. I blame a society that demand the perfect Bento box every single ‘loath-ful’ day.


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