Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Real men make lunch

May 6, 2009

It seems that in Japan, when the economy get’s tough, the men go cooking, and the result is a marketer’s dream in a recession.

Men are turning to the traditional art of making boxed lunches, or bento – compartmentalised boxes with a mix of rice, vegetables and meat dishes.JAPAN-LUNCH/

This is radical stuff in Japan, where legions of salarymen leave it to their partner or mother to make their meals and eat out if there are no females around to cook for them.

But with Japan deep in recession, men are getting domesticated and making their own bento to save the $8-$10 or so they might otherwise pay each day for lunch in a restaurant.

But while the newly frugal males try to save money, marketing campaigns are targeting them to spend the cash they save in new ways, such as cooking classes or a flashy new $25 lunch box with matching chopsticks.

JAPAN-LUNCH/After all, who knows what the other men in the office are cooking up?

Men working at a Tokyo Internet company say they are getting up before dawn to work on their lunches, then compare notes over lunch at a bento club meeting.

Even in the kitchen, it seems traditional male competitiveness still rules.

Photo credits: REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

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