Tokyo, Japan: Bentoware and the church of cute
Remember how in grade school, everyone knew the kid whose mom packed the best lunches?
In Japan, the same is true times a million, because there's an entire product niche around bento—the packed-at-home meal, usually lunch—alone.
At Tokyu Hands (which is to your average department store as Six Flags is to a playground slide), the bento section is something of a religious experience, especially if you worship at the altar of cute.
Pleated paper cups printed with tiny saucer-eyed cats. Mini plastic pig bottles that shoot soy sauce out their nose. Silicone teddy-bear dividers to keep your veg away from your meat. And plenty of cookie cutter-type shapers, so you can mold Junior's rice into the shape of a tiny car or bunny head.
And the boxes? Oh, honey. From traditional flower-etched lacquered sets to poppy, punchy Hello Kitty stackables, the only question is, what don't they sell a bento box in the shape of?
If you answered "A cheeseburger, where both the lettuce and the patty are separate removable trays," you lose.