Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reawake to wabi-sabi



Thomas Bertrand in Tokyo who heads the online shop Bento & Co. tells it this way : "What may inhibit customers to buy a real wooden lacquered bento box is the stress to keep it in good shape." The same applies here in Japan. If a good magewappa bento box is certainly more expensive than a cute plastic industrial piece of ware, a used bento box is an owner's pet. It show wears and the inevitable scratch that are a natural consequence of using them for the basic purpose that has been to carry food.

Here, the extra beautiful bento box from Kagawa prefecture on the picture has not been used a single time for food transportation. Life patterns are the issue. I do not carry lunch around and the only box being currently move out of the house mostly daily is a real magewappa that has started showing some wears. The reason objected not to switch to that Kagawa box is that "it is too beautiful". But so is the current carrier, and if I had to carry lunch outside, I would not hesitate a second to go with it. Instead, it is currently used as yet another pencil box, as if this usage would keep it safe. The safest way to take care of it as a cult object would have been not to buy it first.

After all, what maintenance is required? Gentle clean washing and wiping out. That's just about it. Sustainable life style never meant not to throw away things, but to use them until they can't be used again. With a wooden bento box in standard usage and care, this could go on for a long, long time.

What is missing here is the reintroduction of that good old wabi-sabi into real daily life. The makers are certainly part of the problem and responsable for the situation. Seldom are artifacts of shown in real life usage context. Although thrift shops carry old boxes, I have never seen an old bento box on sale. As food is brought to the mouth, it is at least in Japan a guaranteed way to repulse potential buyers. But a bento box or other artifacts put in real life situations carry chances to be adopted for the very reason that they tell a common story, that of bringing lunch in a box out of home.