Shokado Bento Kyoto



Shokado Bento (Shookadoo bentoo)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Topic
***** Category: Humanity


Pine Flower Pavillion
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Shokado bento, Shokado-style box lunch, is a famous bento that originated in Kyoto.
It is served in a square box, separaded into four compartments like the Chinese character for FIELD 田 and covered by a lid with long edges.
Ingredients fresh of the season are packed in small containers in each square, and even hot rice can be put in there. It is a very sophisticated bento and is a bit similar to Makunouchi Bento 幕の内弁当 eaten between the acts of long Kabuki performances.

But Shokado Bento developed from the Kaiseki Cuisine of Kyoto.
During the Edo period there lived a famous Shinto-Shingon Buddhist priest, calligrapher and tea master, Shokado Shojo 松花堂昭乗 Shookadoo Shoojoo(1584 - 1639)lived in a temple near the mountain Otokoyama, near Iwashimizu Yahata Gu 石清水八幡宮. His real name was Nakanuma Shikibu.

CLICK for more of his calligraphy His calligraphy was so famous he was called "one of the three great calligraphers of the Kanei-Period (kanei no sanpitsu 「寛永の三筆)".
(The other calligraphers were Konoe Nobutada 1565 - 1614 近衛信尹 and Honami Koetsu 1558 - 1637 本阿弥光悦.

He used square boxes with compartments which are normally used by local farmers to keep his calligraphy tools and tobacco tools. When he retired from his temple duties, he lived in a hut near Takimoto-bo Temple and often invited his learned friends of the time in his tea house, called Shokado (Pine Flower Temple).

CLICK for more After the Meiji restauration his home was sold and the temples relocated to Ominaeshi in Yahata, where it is now.
The tea house is an important cultural property of the city of Kyoto.
Now you can enjoy the famous bento in the restaurant Kitcho 吉兆松花堂店 in the garden grounds.
. . . CLICK here for Photos of the tea house and park !

But how came this square box of Shokado
to be used for a bento lunchbox?

The story is moved fast-forward to the year 1933 when Yuki Teiichi (tei-ichi) 湯木貞一, a tea conoisseur of his time, was invited to Shokado and saw the box of Shokado on a shelf on his way out after an invitation. He immediately got the hint to use such a kind of divided box for an official meal for kaiseki to be served in a new restaurant called Kicho 吉兆.

Now Mr. Tokuoka is head of the Arashiyama Kitcho. Kyoto Kitcho was founded in 1931.
There are 21 branches of Kitcho in Japan, mostly run by the relatives of Yuki, serving the best of seasonal food dishes.

CLICK for more bento boxes

Since the food is separated its smell does not intermingle and each dish can be enjoyed on its own. Even hot rice is served in one compartment.

Sen no Rikyu 千 利休, another famous tea master at the times of Shokado, used to serve his meals in a box in the form of a half-moon (hangetsu 半月).
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. Sen Rikyuu, Sen Rikyū 千利休 Tea Master Sen Rikyu   .

Even the bent wooden bento boxes come in four compartments
曲げわっぱ弁当箱 松花堂 magewappa
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Lunch in these boxes is now served in many other restaurants in Japan.

There is even a station lunch, ekiben
Tokyo Station 東京駅 sells a ... 松花堂弁当

CLICK for the original at ... www.ekibento.jp/are-s28kantou.htm


Kichoan Shokado Tea House
43, Yawata Ominaeshi, Yawata, Kyoto 614-8077 JAPAN
In the park of Shokado, in memory of Shokado Shojo. There a special bento is served. Shokado bento, inspired by the partitioned paintboxes that Shokado Shojo, a monk and painter of the early Edo period, used regularly. The food that goes inside these boxes varies according to the season and the occasion, but the food is always beautiful to look at as well as delicious to taste.
source : kansaida/yawata/yawata02-e.html

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


CLICK for more photos of the park
Memorial mound for ladies, onnazuka

Shokado Park 松花堂庭園 is a famous place for elegant haiku meetings.
There is a memorial mound for ladies 女塚 and one for the menfolk 男塚.

ume shiroku usubi koboreru onna zuka

white plum blossoms -
a soft sunshine falls
on the memorial mound

Nishiwaki Kazue 西脇一江
source : nisiura/haiku

CLICK for more ominaeshi blossoms
The ominaeshi flowers (Patrinia Scabiosaefolia おみなえし【女郎花】) are especially famous in this area.

yellow flowered valerian, ominaeshi : KIGO

Related words

KITCHO-AN restaurants and tea houses

Ekiben 駅弁 Station Lunch Box



anonymous said...

shokdado bento
in the field
prawns, roe, and fruits

John Tiong Chunghoo

Bentobird said...

Wonderful and truly informative post--thank you!

Anonymous said...

Found you in a google search for an explanation of shokado and never expected to find such a well researched and eloquent result.
Definitely going to read your other posts.
Cheers Ferret