Early cherry blossoms already started to bloom in Japan together with the ume (plum) flowers and the spring season is just around the corner.

Outside smells like greens, earthy fragrance, and fresh air. You can already see many flowers welcoming the warmness of the spring season and everything coming back to life.

Many people prepare for hanami (flower viewing) and think of “picnic” ideas and what bento (lunch boxes) should make for this year.

For the Ohanami lunch (flower viewing lunch) there are lots of options you can incorporate in your bento, some simple, some a bit more time consuming, but all delicious and nice looking.

Many people shape boiled carrots or other vegetables in sakura shape or flower shapes, others make character bento.

I prefer using salmon flakes, furikake and other seasonings which turn into different shades of pink and give off a spring feeling to the bento.

Here are some of the ideas to incorporate in your lunch:


Onigiri is probably the simplest thing to incorporate in your lunch. It is easy to make, very quick and delicious.

You can keep it basic and make it with salmon, umeboshi (pickled ume), tuna mayonnaise or for more fancier rice balls, you can add green peas, salt-preserved cherry blossom flowers, beet powder (that will turn the onigiri into a beautiful rosy pink color).

For a light pink, you can also use sakuraebi(small dried shrimp) or decofuri(a type of furikake that turns the rice into many different colors).

I prefer using chopped umeboshi and salmon flakes to keep a Japanese flavor and wrap it in nori or mix the rice with wakame and sesame seeds.

You can do the same if you are using rice and not making onigiri, topping it on the top and making some cute characters using ham, cheese, pickled plum, etc.

Tamagoyaki (Japanese Rolled Omelet)

This is a pretty basic food to incorporate in your lunch box.

If it is hard making the shape of tamagoyaki, you can also use boiled eggs instead.

I usually like making sweet tamagoyaki and am using soy milk, sugar and a pinch of salt when making it.

But you can also use soy sauce and put in some green onions, nori or even cheese, to your liking.

If I happen to make the salty version, I like making daikon oroshi (grated daikon radish), too to give it a fresher taste.

Karaage (Deep fried chicken)

You can either boil/grill some fish/meat, but many Japanese people love Karaage in their bentos.

Karaage is easy to make and all you need is chicken, flour, and spices. I like to marinate the chicken in soy sauce, garlic, and ginger in the fridge for a couple of hours, then lightly coat it in flour and deep fry it.

You can use fish, vegetables or anything else you’d like instead. It will turn out as delicious!

Okazu (side dishes)

For side dishes, you can have lots of seasonal vegetables, tomatoes in different colors and flower-shaped veggies, ham to make it look cuter.

I sometimes wrap veggies in bacon and fry it quickly in the pan or make a salad with arugula, spinach leaves, colorful tomatoes and a rose-shaped avocado with a simple dressing of olive oil, lemon, and salt&pepper.

You can also choose nimono (Japanese simmered vegetables) or make a simple Goma-ae and put some boiled/grilled vegetables around. Goma-ae is made of spinach or beans dressed in sesame sauce and it goes perfect with other Japanese dishes.

Besides the bento, you can also pack some tea/coffee, sandwiches, miso soup, and fruits, but that is up to you. I always have my tea and assorted fruits salad along with the lunch box and I highly recommend getting some for more energy during the day.

Don’t forget to:

1. Drain the ingredients thoroughly
2. Cool the side dishes before packing and remember to put in some ice packs in your cooler bag, too.
3. Divide everything using small cups, lids, etc. so that the taste won’t mix with the other dishes.

By - cinnamonellie.