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Obentō Talks: Women’s Use of Social Media to Communicate in Japanese Food Culture Open Access


Other title
Japanese food culture
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Funabashi, Eric
Supervisor and department
Adolphson, Mikael (East Asian Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Adolphson, Mikael (East Asian Studies)
Zivkovic, Marko (Anthropology)
Commons, Anne (East Asian Studies)
Department of East Asian Studies

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
Bento is not just a meal in Japan. Immersed in Japanese food culture, the ready-to-eat lunch box has more cultural than edible functions as it symbolizes a governmental ideology that attempts to portray Japanese women’s lives as wives and mothers. Additionally, bento has become an important tool for women’s communication allowing the exchange of messages between maker and eater through food arrangement and color balance. Due to the development of internet technology, bento has reached the virtual world as a theme for personal webpages where Japanese women are interacting with other people, engaging in conversations and exchanging opinions and feelings. This study investigates Japanese women’s motivation in using bento as a theme for such communication and self-expression in social media. Based on an analysis of personal webpage rankings and work from previous scholarship, this study first presents Japanese women’s interaction in virtual platforms as well as their relation to bento within Japanese society. Then, in order to focus on Japanese women’s opinion regarding bento-making and the use of social media to express opinions and communicate with an audience, an investigation was conducted with Japanese women using an online survey and a qualitative questionnaire. The investigation tools were developed to investigate participants’ opinions on specific questions, as well as to provide examples and details regarding such opinions. Notably, the results of this investigation not only reveals Japanese women’s motivation in making bento and interacting online, but also reasons why personal webpages and online interaction proved to be a good fit for Japanese women’s desire for communication and expression in social media.
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