Open Access

Cooking and Eating as Linguistic Experiences: Metamorphoses in the Japanese Familial Culinary Universe Reflected in the Movie パパのお弁当は世界 一 Papa no Obentō wa Sekai IchiDad's Lunch Box


The aim of this study is to describe the role of bentōs (Japanese lunch boxes) in contemporary Japanese society and its importance in different types of interpersonal relationships (the father-daughter relationship, friendship and love relationships). We will illustrate the value of this cultural element by analyzing the movie パパのお 弁当は世界一 Papa no Obentō wa Sekai IchiDad's Lunch Box (2017) directed by Fukatsu Masakazu (who drew inspiration from a popular post on Tweeter in which a girl's high school graduation day is marked by the fact that she conveys her thanks to her father for having prepared her daily bentōs in the last three years (Shoji)), a movie that reflects various aspects of modern Japan: the changing roles of family members and the changing relationships between them. Moreover, we will focus on how bentō evolves into a means of communication in this movie, and how it contributes to reconfiguring the facets of Japanese masculinities in a society that is no more characterized by its traditional form. We will also depict the characteristics of bentōs and will take into consideration their historical background in order to situate them in the context of the evolution of food-preparing practices.