The Nearly-Quarter-of-a-Million-Dollar Japanese Bento

Opulence. This Japanese bento box has it. And it is being offered for sale by high-end department store chain Takashimaya as this year’s osechi, or New Year’s meal set. Yes, for a mere $229,000, buyers of this special three-tiered bento box can partake of a rich tradition of eating special foods at the new year, which in Japan dates back to the late 8th century. It’s just that in this case, while the foods in the box will be of exceptional quality, their expense will pale in comparison to the hand-crafted 18-carat gold box in which they will be contained. About 3,300 grams of gold will be formed into the box shape by famous Japanese goldsmith Koichi Ishikawa. The elaborate surface design, which incorporates leaves, grapevines and grapes, will be carved into each tier of the golden box by Hoseki Okuyama, a sculptor who has been designated a living national treasure by the Japanese government. For those who have the disposable income, Takashimaya will start accepting orders for this amazingly elaborate meal set this October. But even for the wealthy, securing a set may still be a challenge, as only three are scheduled to be made. This is a pretty amazing thing, particularly when one considers how distasteful the Japanese find obvious displays of wealth. And as far as we’re concerned, this beats the cost and extravagance of any meal we can recall reading about in the Nieman-Marcus Christmas Book. (Wall Street Journal Japan RealTime – Costly Golden Bento Box)