The Aesthetics of the Japanese Lunchbox

The Aesthetics of the Japanese Lunchbox

by Kenji Ekuan, David B. Stewart
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0262550350

ISBN-13: 9780262550352

Pub. Date: 10/23/2000

Publisher: MIT Press

The Makunouchi Bento, or traditional Japanese lunchbox, is a highly lacquered wooden box divided into quadrants, each of which contains different delicacies. It is also one of the most familiar images of Japan's domestic environment. When presented to the diner, the Japanese lunchbox seems straightforward enough; each of four food portions resides in its own

Overview

The Makunouchi Bento, or traditional Japanese lunchbox, is a highly lacquered wooden box divided into quadrants, each of which contains different delicacies. It is also one of the most familiar images of Japan's domestic environment. When presented to the diner, the Japanese lunchbox seems straightforward enough; each of four food portions resides in its own compartment,apparently obeying a strict lunchbox geometry. So far, just food. But Kenji Ekuan reveals that a much deeper reading is possible, one that sees the lunchbox as nothing less than a key to an understanding of Japanese civilization, the spirit of form, and the aesthetic ideal in which the many are reduced to one.Ekuan reads the Japanese lunchbox as both object and metaphor. It is one of this book's many charms that he is able to see it as both simultaneously. He compares the visual pleasures of the Zen lunchbox to an aerial view of the Japanese archipelago; he invites us to savor its quadripartite structure as we savor the four seasons. In so doing, he unlocks the secrets of ancient Japanese rituals, celebrates the aesthetics of Japanese design, explores the contours of Japanese landscapes and technology, and delineates the forty-eight rules of the etiquette of Japanese form.With an agility more characteristic of poetry than of design criticism, he connects everything from food, television, motorcycles, package tours, and department stores to landscape,ecology, computers, and radios, all the while keeping his eye on his subject. In this book of magical transformations, nothing is what it first appears, but everything is deepened by "lunchbox theory." Consider the influence of the lunchbox on TV viewing, for example: chopsticks are used to stroll through a meal, just as remote control devices are used to browse TV channels. This book reveals a world of secret connections between its covers, in the spirit of the lunchbox itself.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262550352
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
10/23/2000
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
9.80(w) x 9.70(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

Dazzling Nothingness-A Pretext ix
Introduction: Joys of the Lunchbox 1(10)
PART ONE Hidden Aspects of the Lunchbox-Japanese Etiquette of the Creation of Forms 11(84)
1 Beauty Is Function
13(10)
2 Flexible Functionality
23(10)
3 Equipment That Draws Out Creativity
33(6)
4 Saving Grace of the Prototype
39(6)
5 Pine-Bamboo-Plum-Unification in Diversity
45(8)
6 All-Inclusive Assimilation and Structuring
53(6)
7 Developmentality of the Lunchbox
59(8)
8 Untrammeled Adaptability-Hypothetical Culture
67(8)
9 Model for a Civilization of Maturity
75(10)
10 The Ultimate Spirit of Service-Heart of the Merchant
85(6)
An Interlude
91(4)
PART TWO Lunchbox-Style Interpretation of Japanese Industry-The Lunchbox Archipelago Today 95(82)
11 Technology to Cope with Environment: Nature and Seasons of an Air-Conditioned Culture
97(20)
12 Technology of Order: The Buddhist Home Altar and the Department Store
117(8)
13 Technology for Quality Enhancement: Connoisseur's Guide to Soy Sauce and the Motorized Tea House
125(18)
14 Technology of Structuring: Products and People in the Economy / A Theory of Japanese Organization
143(12)
15 Technology of Aims: Goals and Receptivity in the Artificial Urban Environment
155(6)
16 Lifestyle Technology: Shaping Human Character and the Ideal of the Single Blossom
161(16)
Conclusion Spirit of the Lunchbox-Globalization of Japan 177(10)
Appendix A Brief History of the Lunchbox 187

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