Comments: Oh my gosh! How much did we miss not growing up in Japan? Our box lunches were never like this.
And what would our kids think if we sent them to school with any of these bento box lunches? (They would think we were nuts, then they would probably thank is profusely. (Well, we imagine they would thank us profusely.))
For box lunches, they just look delicious. The stir-fries with beef or pork or chicken or fish (hiding substantial amounts of vegetables), the sandwiches (which are not particularly Japanese), the curry, the stir-fried spaghetti bento, the meals based on leftovers, the "hefty" bentos, and all the side dishes, primarily based on vegetables and rice – they certainly do not have to be dedicated only to kids. Anyone would love them. That they are generally quick and nutritious is just a huge bonus.
The title is a reference to the love that went into the Bento box lunches the author's mother made when he was a child. You may not have enough time on a weekday to make a lunch like this for yourself or your children, but certainly a picnic is not out of the question. No one should be deprived of a box lunch like this, at least now and then.
Our government would have a fit if you kept these cooked meats and eggs and vegetables and rice at room temperature for more than a couple of hours. You definitely want to keep them cool, and remind yourself that the Japanese have been eating these for how long? Generations? Looks more like it's been about 800 years….
There are some quirks that have crept into what is an English translation of a Japanese book – not a book on Japanese cooking produced specifically for an American market. Some unusual ingredients are explained here (mentaiko is pollock roe) but not there. Others are not explained as clearly as you would like or at all (konjac jelly is a gelatinous jelly made from an Asian plant. It may or may not be for sale in the United States or Europe). How do you cut 1/5-inch slices (who cares? Who is that precise, anyway?) There is a little reference guide at the back, and most, if not all, ingredients will be available at an Asian market or a really well-stocked supermarket. In many cases, the author lets you use easy-to-find substitutes.