Bento—Design for Eating, Gathering and Communicating

Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum


Satoru Abe, Ayumi Ooshio, Hiraku Ogura, Jun Kitazawa, Toru Koyamada, Taro Hirano, Marije Vogelzang, Yasuhiro Moriuchi, Chiori Yamamoto
From picnic meals to our daily lunchbox, the bento (a Japanese-style meal-in-a-box) is part of the fabric of everyday life in Japan. Sometimes they are communally eaten, such as those prepared for picnics and other outings; these have served since agrarian times as a social tool, for example at special social occasions, that holds the community together and strengthens bonds. Others are made to be eaten by one person, put together by someone for another – like a gift that contains the story connecting the preparer and the eater. With both kinds, the person preparing the bento first considers factors like the time and situation in which the bento will be eaten, then arranges the food in the box with care and consideration, as if to design the very time and space of eating.
The coming exhibition looks at the bento from this communication design angle, providing a setting in which people can experience and discover for themselves the appeal of this Japanese food culture that brings people together. The entire venue is curated around this concept of communicating design through bento, with exhibits that range from bento boxes with unique designs dating from the Edo period (1603–1868), to video works, installations, and participatory artworks by contemporary artists.
There are eight artists scheduled to participate: Marije Vogelzang, the Dutch “eating designer” who is a leading figure in the field of bento; photographer Satoru Abe, a “bento hunter” known for his appearances on the NHK program Salameshi (Workers’ lunch); the “fermentation designer” Hiraku Ogura, and more.
It will be a participatory exhibition that is fun for adults and children alike, with artworks to see, hear and touch.



Jul 21 (Sat) 2018-Oct 8 (Mon) 2018 

Opening Hours Information

Closed on every 1st and 3rd Monday.
Closed during the New Year holidays.
Special exhibitions closed on Mondays. (Open on a public holiday Monday but closed on the following day.)
Open until 20:00 on Fridays. Open until 21:00 on July 27 (Friday) and on Fridays in August.
FeeAdults ¥800, University Students ¥400, Seniors over 65 ¥500, High School Students and under free.
VenueTokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
Location8-36 Ueno Park, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-8712
Access7 minute walk from the Park exit of JR Ueno Station, 10 minute walk from the Ikenohata exit of Keisei Ueno Station on the Keisei Main line, 10 minute walk from exit 7 at Ueno Station on the Ginza and Hibiya lines.