It has become evident through many of our readings that food plays an essential role in most cultures that have been analyzed. However, through Anne Allison’s article, Japanese Mothers and Obentōs: The Lunch-Box as Ideological State Apparatus, it became evident that food plays a much larger role than simply something to eat. When reading this article, it occurred to me that the obentōs have not only become a ritual, but also something that symbolizes the lifestyle of both the women as well as the children in the Japanese culture.
As the article explains, the obentō is a food dish that is prepared for children in nursery school as their first day of school begins. This is not like any typical lunch that is prepared for a child in the United States when they enter school, or like snack time that is given in classes. Instead this is an intense ritual that takes time and effort for both the mother as well as the child. When the mother prepares the obentō she must keep many things in mind. Firstly, it must be in small portions and bites and must be arranged in individual containers. Moreover, it must be something that the child is able to finish in a timely manner because if the child does not, then he or she will be punished as well as other classmates. There are magazines and books to guide mothers on how to prepare this one meal for their children and much labor and hard work is put into this process.