Boxed lunch prepared for Japanese children by their mothers. These lunches are typically more elaborate when compared to a traditional American boxed lunch. Japanese mothers put in a lot of time as well as effort into making these lunches.
"How food is coded as a cultural and aesthetic apparatus in Japan, and what authority the state holds over school in Japanese society. Thus situating the parameters within which the obentō is regulated and structured in the nursery school setting (p.332).
The anthropologist had a child enrolled in a Japanese preschool for 15 months, during that time she used discussions with other mothers, daily conversations and interviews with the preschool teacher , examining obentō magazines and cookbooks, participation in school rituals , outings, and mothers' association meetings, and the expirences of her own son (p.333).
The author explains how the preparation of Obentōs goes beyond the mode of providing children with something to eat. They also reinforce gendered social roles in Japan for women and children. The author explained, 'motherhood is institutionalized through the child's school and such routines as making the obentō as a full-time, kept-at-home job.' (p341)
Nursery school acts as the first step towards the strictly structured education system in Japan. Children in preschool MUST finish their entire lunch, kids who eat slow hold up the rest of the class from moving on to a different activity beyond lunchtime and so they are often times ridiculed not only by the teachers but also by therir peers. Eating all of the obentō represents 'following directions, obeying rules, and accepting the authority of the school system.' (p338)
obentōs represent the mother figure as having an important role in the future success or failure of their children who's since future success is largely equated with educational success and educational success is equated with the support a child receives from their mother whether it be through making an adequate obentō or later on helping them with school work and studying. 'If the child succeeds, a mother is complimented; if the child fails, a mother is blamed' (p341).