For a lot of us, the Japanese lunch box can be as much of a mystery as some of the other cultural habits. So much care and detail goes into most of these boxes that you often wonder about any hidden messages or historic significance of the boxes. Well, there's a handy little book that can help you explore this mystery further - The Aesthetics of the Japanese Lunchbox.
This 200 page treat was written by Kenji Ekuan and contains a number of photographs that certainly enhance the topic at hand. What's interesting about his take is the way he links the organization of the lunch box to various spheres of Japanese life and culture. To this effect, he talks about the history of the box layout itself. When did it start out? What did it look like at the beginning? Then he uncovers the way in which various social trends and turbulent times have left their mark on this intriguing element that is now a significant part of people's everyday life. What will interest history buffs and art lovers alike is the way he finds deeper meanings in the way the lunch box has changed according to external influences.
One thing to keep in mind is his presentation style. The author has embraced this topic rather wholeheartedly and thus, tends to be more technical in his writing. So, while this provides the reader with detailed explanations from various angles, it can be a bit much to take in one go. Let's just say that it's not what you would read on a plane or train.