Gourmet Bentos & Gender Lines

Gourmet Yakitori Bento Boxes in Tokyo by oh my omiyage

This is shaping up to be a week of Japanese men’s food!  What is “men’s” food, you ask?

Japan is still a traditional society – even when it comes to food.  Certain types of food and restaurants are considered “ladylike” – usually restaurants with a nice, open atmosphere and a slower pace.  These restaurants are filled with all women, and men (my husband included!) feel uncomfortable entering these spots without the company of an “ambassador” (women friends, girlfriends, or wife, like me!).

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The opposite is also true.  Men’s restaurants have food that are traditionally cheap, fast street foods like ramen, udon, gyudon, or yakitori.  A lot of women feel uncomfortable entering these restaurants, especially alone.  Men will usually stare at these women, thinking that they are lonely or out of place. [more about this here]

These traditions are changing, but I was surprised to find that a lot of my students won’t cross these invisible borders.  In this case, you can always grab a nice bento from the take out counter!  Many restaurants (even higher-end ones) offer bentos for people on the rush, too tired to eat out or cook, or afraid of eating by themselves.  So no matter how you feel about these gender lines, you can always satiate your craving!

7 thoughts on “Gourmet Bentos & Gender Lines

  1. Interesting about the gender divide. It might be akin to a woman entering a bar where it’s sometimes (not always) predominantly or only men…especially in a small town.

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