Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted on Jun 2, 2014 in Bento, Equipment, SF Bay Area Local, Shopping | 7 comments

Asakichi: Hidden gem for bento in SF Japantown

Asakichi: Hidden gem for bento in SF Japantown


Bento boxes at Asakichi

Part of my personal tipping point to restart blogging has been my proximity to Japantown, and the many other families at Bug’s school who pack bentos. I’m in Japantown pretty much every weekday and have been enjoying exploring little stores that I haven’t been in before. I was surprised to find that Asakichi now carries about 100 high-quality boxes, which hasn’t had much attention yet from the bento blogs. (Disclosure: I don’t have any commercial affiliation with Asakichi, just like their bento selection.)

Sakura bark bento

I chatted with the owner, and it turns out that there are four Asakichi stores in Japantown: one for iron teapots & most bento boxes, one for antiques (the main store with high-end bento boxes), and two others stocking incense & kimono. The Asakichi main store is the first space on your right as you walk in to the West Mall from the Peace Plaza — I found some exquisite bento boxes there, like this bento box finished with Sakura cherry wood (pricey at $67, but drool-worthy).

The main store also carries a variety of hand-crafted magewappa wooden bento boxes from Akita, Japan that are out of my price range ($100-$125 each), but beautiful. Magewappa is bent wood, and the boxes shown below are made from the Japanese cedar tree (sugi, or cryptomeria). They’re often unfinished, making them a bit finicky in terms of care (hand wash, air-dry thoroughly for a day before putting lid back on, don’t put staining or liquidy foods inside), but evidently rice packed in magewappa boxes takes on the lovely aroma of the wood. Maki at Just Bento did a wonderful post about her visit to magewappa workshop Shibata Yoshinobu Shoten in Odate, Japan.

Asakichi is the only store I’ve found in San Francisco that carries magewappa bento boxes, so is definitely a go-to destination for bento fans. Here’s their magewappa (or “wappa“) bento box selection, in a glass case at the counter.

Magewappa bento boxes at Asakichi      Magewappa bento boxes at Asakichi

The Asakichi bento & ironworks store is on the bridge between Japan Center’s West Mall and the Kinokuniya Building, on your left as you walk towards Kinokuniya. This shop carries about 100 bento boxes ranging from $20 to $40 (many from Hakoya and Kotobuki), although the highest-quality/price boxes are in the other Asakichi store with antiques. The guy at the Asakichi ironworks/bento store said that he’d love to get in some thermal bento boxes, so keep an eye on their inventory for those. 

Elegant bento boxes at Asakichi   Cat bento boxes at Asakichi

I noticed that the Asakichi incense shop has an online store, but the owners say that they don’t sell their bento boxes online (just incense). Oh well. 

Traditional bento boxes at Asakichi   Bento boxes at Asakichi

Evidently the animal-themed bento boxes below are their best-sellers. 

Animal bento boxes at Asakichi

For email subscribers to Lunch in a Box, I’m sorry about the email late last week with a draft version of this post. I boneheadedly hit “publish” before the post was done, so you received my mid-process brain dump (d’oh!). I’m switching the RSS feed & email updates away from Feedburner to FeedPress. Email and RSS subscribers shouldn’t have to do anything extra, but if you’d like to be sure of receiving RSS updates you may want to delete the FeedBurner feed and add

Next post here will be actual food!  :-)

Where to buy: 

  • Amazon: Wappa bento boxes  (cheaper but lower quality), wooden bento boxes, Hakoya brand, and Kotobuki bento store
  • Bento&Co: Magewappa bento boxes (pricey but high quality), non-plastic bento boxes, Hakoya collections (incl. modern)

Additional reading: 


Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  1. Hmm, when I publish a new post, it looks like the comment form doesn’t appear for readers until there’s a starter comment from an admin. MUST FIX!!!

  2. I’m grateful you’re back at it! My little guy will be starting 1st grade next year, and I was missing your Bento wisdom.

    • Hi Ben! Thanks for the comment. Feel free to shoot over any questions you have as you dig into grade-school bentos. :-)

  3. I’m glad you’re back. You were sorely missed. I liked this website way before I had a kid, but now that you’re back and my daughter is almost 3, these posts will become much more useful. I like the new look, and I hope you stay for a good while this time.

    • Thanks Brandon! Quick question for you: what kind of posts would you like to see more of? Speed tips, lunch gear reviews, packed bentos, recipes, shopping tips/guides, or a combination? I’m trying to figure out my place in the new bento landscape online and could use some input.

      • I submitted my entry to the poll, but I would say that efficiency is a popular trend lately. Having good recipes with some of them focusing on speed or ease of getting a lot of result with less effort. I would like to make more bento lunches, but sometimes if it takes too long, it might make it harder to even try it out. I have much less free time since the third member of my family popped into existence.

  4. Thank you for the review on Asakichi. Those animal face boxes are cute. I don’t really make cute lunches, but I like having the cute boxes to put them in and I have a couple of the ones in the picture, but see others I want. hahaha. 90% of my stuff is bought online and I have yet to be able to shop in an “actual bento store” meaning a big place like what they have in Japantown in SF and that is my goal. Fresno Chaffee Zoo is opening a new huge Africa exhibit next summer so my plan is to be there for that and go to Japantown and just go hog wild. Asakichi will be on my list for sure. Bummer they don’t sell online, though.