|Letters and Messages|
Remarks by Deputy Consul-General Atsushi Iwasaki
at 2015 Houston Bento Contest Final Battle at H-E-B
at Bunker Hill
on February 22, 2015
February 22, 2015
On behalf of the Consulate-General of Japan in Houston, I would like to welcome you to the 2015 Houston Bento Final Contest. We are delighted to be hosting the contest for the 4th year in a row in collaboration with the Japan-America Society of Houston.
Obento, a home-packed Japanese lunch box, holds a special place in the hearts of many Japanese. While hot lunch is usually provided for students in elementary and middle school, it is the tradition for Japanese mothers to send their high school students to school with Obento. In addition, mothers will make Obento for picnics and school sports festivals. Bento is full of a parents love for their children. Obento is something that brings us back to our school days, and reminds us of mom’s home cooking
This nostalgia is why obento is still so popular today and so many stores specialize in offering this alternative to the home-made lunch. Hand-made Bentos can also be enjoyed in restaurants, or even found for sale at convenience stores in Japan. Because a bento doesn`t have to be made professionally, it just has to be made with love and care, it represents a culture centered around community and family. This is why trying to make Obento is a good way to learn Japanese culture.
Before we begin let me take this opportunity to recognize our event sponsors: Satake, H.E.B’s Sushiya, Mr. Glen Gondo, Yamasa and Ajinomoto. The generous donation of rice by Satake for the fourth year in a row will be used by finalists in the packing competition and will be enjoyed by all a little later on for the onigiri making/eating portion of the program. I also would like to recognize Mr. Gondo’s thoughtful donation of a rice cooker which cooked today’s rice. Thank you so much for your support!
I would also like to thank everyone that submitted a bento this year. All of the entries were excellent and the judges had a very difficult time choosing the five contestants that will compete today.
In closing, thank you to everyone for joining us. I hope today’s event will give you new ideas and possibly inspire you to try packing your own bento at home.