While watching Shimajiro, a popular Japanese cartoon of a tiger cub that teaches kids little songs, manners and safety, I stumbled across an uncommon variation of the classic Bento Box Song (“Obento Bako no Uta”) that features more Western food — sandwiches! It’s kind of a chant with hand motions referencing food words that sound similar to numbers in Japanese. It’s less of a counting exercise than the original, but fun nonetheless. I also dug up a comedy show riff on the bento box song that Japanese speakers may get a kick out of — the Osaka comedienne in the video clip takes issue with the vagueness of the original lyrics and makes up new ones after bullying her fellow singers.
I don’t want to infringe on the Shimajiro copyright, so I made a quick YouTube video of me singing the song and doing the associated hand motions (what was I thinking? Thanks to my Twitter followers for humoring me!). Full lyrics and an English translation follow. While I was at it, I made a little video for the original Bento Box Song to show the hand motions, and added it to the old post.
In a bento box about this size
Put in some sandwiches
Minced parsley, top it with mayonnaise
3 strawberries, 3 mandarin oranges, 3 eggs, 3 bananas
3 macaronis with holes in them
and bacon with sinews running throughout
Bento Box Song (Sandwich Version)
Kore kurai no, obento bako ni (trace a rectangular bento box with both index fingers)
sandoichi sandoichi choitto tsumete (hold up 3 fingers, then 1, 3, 1, then mime packing a bento box. “Sandwich” in Japanese sounds like the words for 3 and 1.)
kizami parsley ni mayonnaise kakete (make a squeezing motion like squeezing out Kewpie mayonnaise)
ichigo san (put up one finger, then three fingers. “Ichigo” strawberry sounds like the numbers 1 and 5 in Japanese)
mikan san (put up three fingers, then three fingers again. The “mi” in “mikan” sounds like 3 in Japanese)
tamago san (hands over head like an egg, then put up three fingers)
baanana san* (do “jazz hands” on either side of your face like “peekaboo!”, then put up three fingers)
ana no aita macaroni san (make a hole with index finger and thumb, wave hand left and right)
suji no toota bacon** (run right hand up left arm from hand up to shoulder, pull down one lower eyelid, then make a muscle with the other arm)
* The “baa” in “banana” is a sound-alike joke referencing the “baa” in Japanese peek-a-boo (called “inai inai baa”). To play “inai inai baa“, the adult hides their face with their hands, saying, “inai inai,” then uncovers their face while saying, “Baa!” Coincidentally, “Inai Inai Baa” is also the name of a long-running TV show on NHK for toddlers and their parents, teaching them little songs like Guru Guru Dokaan (click for video). It’s along the same lines as “Okaasan to Issho” (With Mom), both popular with the preschooler set in Japan.
** The “be” in bacon sounds like “akanbe“, a teasing gesture used by Japanese kids like “neener neener”. When kids do akanbe, they pull one lower eyelid down to show the red inner eyelid and stick out their tongue. Not polite!
- Obento Bako no Uta (Bento Box Song) with video
- Obento no Uta (Bento Song)
- Bento FAQ and Biggie’s list of top speed tips, tutorials and equipment reviews