The bento box is a common way to serve Japanese dishes. The variety of dishes are served in a special box in small compartments, seperated by walls, which often are modeled like small bowl. The quality bento boxes are made of painted wood and contain real bowls.
The first uses of bento boxes were in the Edo period (1603-1868) as they offered an easy way to transport food, without getting them mixed up. In Osaka this form was further developed to the currently known elaborate methods of serving (Shokado Bento), were the food is not considered take-away anymore.