all photos by Kakuta Wataru courtesy Kenchiku Bento

Bento boxes and architecture are actually closely related. While one serves as the primary dwelling for residents, the other serves as a primary dwelling for sustenance. Both require blueprints that carefully considers spatial design, compartmentalization and principles of form, function and aesthetics. So it only made sense to look towards notable works from the past, which have stood the test of time, in hopes of encountering new edible experiences.

Bento box architecture is an initiative by four individuals who share a love for architecture, but also food. “We believe by designing new bento boxes, we can design new bento experiences, and we hope to introduce famous Japanese architecture to the world in the form of bento boxes,” they explain.


Tokyo Apartment designed by Sou Fujimoto

Tokyo Apartment was designed by architect Sou Fujimoto and built in 2010. Located in the Itabashi district, the haphazardly stacked units look like the result of asking Marie Kondo to tidy up Howl’s Moving Castle.

“Just like Tokyo, where people from various cultures live next to each other. Japanese, Western, Chinese, Italian, and various cultures of food are placed next to each other. Rather than squeezing them all into one room, the bento is a collection of independent delicacies.”

21st Century Museum of Art designed by SANAA

The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa is a renowned art museum known for its unique architecture and innovative exhibition design. Designed by the Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the firm SANAA, the museum was completed in 2004 and has since become a landmark in Kanazawa.

“As the concept of the museum is ‘architecture open to the city,’ the circular architecture has no fixed entrance and can be entered from anywhere. In the same way, we attempted to eliminate the ‘entrance’ of the bento box, and found a new way to eat from a bento box.”


Row House in Sumiyoshi designed by Tadao Ando

Tadao Ando’s Row House in Sumiyoshi, also known as the Sumiyoshi House, is a residential building located in Osaka’s Sumiyoshi Ward. It was designed by Ando in 1976 for a couple with two children and is considered one of the self-taught architect’s earliest and most influential works.

“The most distinctive feature of the spatial composition is the open ‘courtyard’ in the middle. On rainy days, this house requires to use an umbrella to use the restroom across the courtyard. This bento box was made as a way to appreciate the open and closed spaces inspired from this architecture.”