(boxed lunch). In premodern Japan, boxed lunches, usually consisting of dried rice, rice balls, or sweet potatoes, were eaten chiefly by travelers and people who worked outdoors. The box lunch tradition has been popular ever since. Since the middle of the Meiji period (1868-1912), bentō have been sold at railway stations, convenience stores, and bento shops. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)
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