I guess you could call me a Japanophile. I love learning about Japanese cuisine, and I eagerly collect Japanese kitchen items. I became enamored with bento boxes a while ago, and now I have three different styles of bento boxes that serve various purposes. What they all have in common is that they are convenient, easy to clean, and fun.
The Old-Fashioned Wooden Bento Box With Furoshiki Cloth Wrapping (shown in above photo)
This style of bento box is a bit unwieldy due to its size and the fact that you have to keep it upright. When I'm packing a lunch to take to the office, this isn't the box I choose, as I don't enjoy carrying this on the subway. I do, however, love the aesthetics of it, and I take it to picnics (I packed two of these for my hanami picnic a few weeks ago!) or I serve food in these at home when I have guests over. People love unwrapping the furoshiki cloth and finding a wooden box inside full of delicious food.
The dividers are removeable for easy cleaning, and the wood is lacquered, which keeps it from absorbing food odors and makes it waterproof. I purchased these boxes on eBay from the seller JAPAN-BARGAIN, they have an inventory of these and call them "Japanese Hakoya Ume Wooden Bento Lunch Box."
The Modern Stackable Cylindrical Bento
This is the workhorse that I take to the office for lunch. There are four stackable containers that fit in this temperature-controlled metal cylinder that can stay hot or cold, and it comes with a nylon bag that has a shoulder strap. I simply sling it over my shoulder along with my purse, and I'm ready to hit the pavement and head for the office on the subway. This is actually too large for a whole lunch, but it's perfect for two meals; lunch and an afternoon snack. My lunch usually goes in two containers, and I put something healthy like nuts, berries, vegetable sticks, or fresh fruit for snacking later in the day.
Called a "Mr. Bento," it's made by Zojirushi and is found online at many sources.
The Small Plastic Bento
This small bento is made of plastic with tight-fitting lids. It's two-tiered and held together with a nylon band. There are chopsticks enclosed, and one compartment has a removeable divider. This is really wonderful for smaller meals and snacks, and is super-portable. It fits in my purse or backpack!
J-Box has a wide selection of this kind of bento box - check them out.
(Images: Kathryn Hill and Amazon)