7. July—Marine Day
What better way to gives thanks for the ocean’s bounty and maritime economic prosperity in Japan than to eat the popular salted and grilled salmon, shiozake? Throw in some kamaboko (fish cake) for extra sea flavor and you’ll have a bento that you can enjoy out on the beach while you admire the ocean. Check Little Miss Bento for more info on how to prepare the one above!
The month for cicada infestation, ghost stories and welcoming back family ancestors (Obon) calls for a ghostly cute bento! Although Obon is not an official national holiday, many companies give their salaried workers time off to return to their hometowns to spend time with relatives.
9. September—Respect for the Aged Day
Honor senior citizens on Respect for the Aged Day, which celebrates longevity for seniors in a country that has the highest average life expectancy, with over 60,000 Japanese citizens celebrating their 100th birthday this year. Since the lunar calendar completes a full cycle every 60 years, expect to see seniors who entered their diamond decade don red clothing as a symbol of good luck. Grandma and Grandpa would surely approve of this bento from Little Miss Bento!
10. October—Health & Sports Day
Founded two years after the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Health and Sports Day has become a time-honored tradition where businesses, schools and even cities host a series of relay races, tugs of war, three legged races and other field activities. There’s little doubt the holiday will become even more elaborate as the 2020 Summer Olympic Games inch ever closer.
11. November—Culture Day
Although we can trace this holiday’s origins to November 3, 1868, when Meiji Setsu was established to celebrate the birth of Emperor Meiji, after World War II the holiday was renamed to commemorate the declaration of a new post-war constitution that emphasizes peace and culture.
Many art exhibitions and festivals, such as the Feudal Lord’s Procession in Hakone, are held to promote traditional Japanese customs on this day. Additionally, the Order of Culture Awards recognize those who made outstanding contributions in the fields of science, art or culture. What bento could better represent Japanese culture than one presented to look like the Japanese flag—or, as locals say, a hinomaru bento, with an umeboshi in the middle of a bed of rice? Check Just One Cookbook for more bento like this!
Contrary to Western tradition, Japanese youngsters often spend Christmas with their boyfriends or girlfriends rather than with families, eating dinner at high-end restaurants and heading out to view the dazzling Christmas lights on the streets. Families tend to stay at home and eat the KFC and Christmas cake ordered months in advance. While bento aren't a customary Japanese Christmas culinary tradition, you can still enjoy a bento made from everyone's two favorite Christmas characters, Mr. Kris Kringle and Rudolph, courtesy of Little Miss Bento.