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Posted on Apr 30, 2008 | 28 comments

Shopping and conference odds and ends

Shopping and conference odds and ends

A few updates today on online bento shopping, bento gear in Europe, conferences I’ll be attending, and something that annoyed me this week.

* Ichiban Kan: Online poll and delay in restocking bento gear

Insulated bento set from Ichiban Kan The Ichiban Kan blog is running an online poll to help them decide whether to stock thermal bento sets like this one that I use regularly. The poll closes at 3:00 pm Pacific Time today (Wednesday, April 30, 2008), so click over there if you’d like to weigh in, or leave a comment at their blog post about the thermal bento sets if you’re too late for the poll. (Sorry about the late notice!) Ichiban Kan is a Japanese-style discount store with branches in the SF Bay Area and a new online store with cheap bento gear. See my full review of their online store, or get info on their local stores in my San Francisco Bay Area shopping guide for bento gear.

Speaking of Ichiban Kan, they’re evidently experiencing a delay in restocking their bento inventory as their big shipping container from Japan has been delayed by U.S. Customs. The delay may last for another three weeks or so; stay up to date via their blog or online store. Their blog now offers the ability to receive e-mail updates via Feedburner; fill out the info in the upper right corner of their blog to get their latest in your e-mail box. (You can do the same here, by the way — click to get Feedburner e-mails with the latest Lunch in a Box posts.) (Read on for European bento shopping update, conferences I’ll be attending at, and something that irritated me.)

* Daiso bento gear available in Europe via Japan Centre

The Japan Centre online store in the U.K. has expanded their inventory of cheap Daiso goods, including a selection of bento gear for £1.49 and up (egg molds, bento boxes, sauce containers, picks, bento belts, food dividers, bags, chopsticks, disposable oshibori hand towels, onigiri rice molds, etc.). They ship non-perishable goods throughout Europe (see their delivery info page), so Europeans might want to check that out.

* Conferences I’ll be attending

I'm Geeking Out at BlogHer 08 I’ll be attending the BlogHer ’08 Conference in San Francisco July 18-20. My current fear is that I’ll turn up unprepared and not be properly familiar with the blogs of people who regularly read and leave comments here. Please help me avoid looking like a jerk! If you’ll be attending as well, feel free to leave a comment here with a link to your blog so that I can poke around it beforehand and keep an eye out for you at the conference.

I’m also scheduled to give a presentation about bento at Anime Milwaukee in February 2009 (brrr, cold!), but that’s pretty far in the future at this point. This’ll be my first time back in Wisconsin after living there in the late 1980′s, so it should be interesting for me.

* Grrr…

Something you might have noticed on my Twitter — earlier this week reader Jan gave me a heads up that a commercial website was running my bento photos without any link back or attribution, and making money off of them via ads (thanks Jan!). In fact, they even went so far as to trim out the watermarked photo credit from my photos and rewrite the entries with some of my tips, linking only to a general Wikipedia entry about bento. When I looked into it, I found that they’d done the same to about a dozen other bento makers in their “bento series”, including pkoceres, Sakurako Kitsa (a.k.a. Amorette Dye, as featured in the Face Food book I reviewed), Joker Girl of Were Rabbits, Ichigo Geisha, Veggie Kitty, Japanese kyaraben contest winners, and even Susan V over at noted blog Fatfree Vegan! I alerted the folks whose bentos I was able to identify and had the website remove my photos, but it left a bad taste in my mouth.

As Susan V commented to me, good bloggers create their own content with cameras and words, and don’t appreciate it when others steal that content. It’s a reminder to all of us to be cool when using photos we find on the web, and check out the terms of the photo’s copyright. Get permission if needed, link back to your source, and don’t trim out watermarked photo credits to disguise the origins. Blech. If anyone notices my photos popping up without attribution somewhere, I’d appreciate a quick heads-up (lunchinabox AT gmail DOT com) so I can take matters up with the website as necessary. The green background makes them pretty easy to spot. Thank you!

FURTHER READING ON LUNCH IN A BOX:

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  1. The supply of bento gear in regular stores in Europe SUCKS. I know ONE tiny japanese store that carry regular plastic bentos, those they do carry are of really good quality (asvel – I’ve been watching the japanese aflac commercial with the duck on youtube, now I keep writing aflac whenever lol). They carry traditional bentos too, but how convenient is that for your bag? I will definatey check out the daiso via Japan Centre.

    Sorry that they stole your pics! Maybe you should think about putting your name right across the picture instead of the far bottom but that will interfere with the explaining.

    I hope that you feel better after someone stole your things as well!

  2. one store in Sweden in should have said. It might be easier in other places.

  3. Sorry to hear about the content thieves. People who don’t/can’t do the writing & photography themselves should at least cite and attribute the material, and preferably ask your permission first if they’re linking a lot.

    I went to Ichiban Kan this weekend and got some small tupperware and used them for lunch for the first time today! They were just the right size for lunch and didn’t take up a whole bunch of space in my bag like Gladware does. Very exciting. :)

  4. I just wanted to thank you for posting about Ichiban Kan. It’s next to impossible for me to find items in this area, and I try not to pay too much shipping. They are great and my first order is too!

    Oh… and some of their items sell for as much as $9 more on Ebay… Hopefully people won’t fall for that any more.

    THANKS AGAIN!

  5. @1/2 from Jessika: How cool that you can find Asvel boxes in Sweden! Too bad there’s not more, though. Traditional bento boxes (the four-compartment ones) look cool and everything, but really aren’t meant for transport, as you say.

    On the photo thing, it’s really a balancing act, isn’t it? I want the watermark there somewhere so I can be laid back about people using my photos, but I don’t want it to be so obtrusive that it detracts from the content of the photo itself. I guess I’ll just keep doing what I’ve been doing…

  6. @4 from WendyZ: Amen on hoping that folks don’t fall for the massive overcharging for Ichiban Kan-sourced bento stuff by eBay sellers. I’m not against normal profit, but $9 for a single 75-cent egg mold is just outrageous…

  7. @5 from asdfasdfasdfaaa: Thanks for the heads up, I’ll look into it.

  8. @5 from asdfasdfasdfaaa: I just took a closer look at that site and the sunlight reflection on the boxes is different. So it’s a similar photo, but they took it themselves — no copyright issue. Thank you, though! It wasn’t immediately obvious.

  9. I’ve been to the Japan Centre in London, and it’s great! It has a restaurant/cafe, a small grocery store, books, gifts, etc. Very nice environment, and not expensive (even by British standards). I got nice onigiri there, too. Yummy yum.

  10. Wow that sucks about your photos being stolen! At least you were able to get them taken down, though, that is good…
    Will you be attending the Tastemakers conference thingee in early June as well? It’s in CA – I think SF – as well. I know Foodbuzz will be there… I was considering going but it seemed less for me (a … non-professional? blogger, so to speak?) and more for the pros. I don’t know, it’s hard to consider myself a pro or… yeah. You know what I mean?

  11. @11 from Anne: Thanks for the impressions about Japan Centre, Anne! I haven’t been there before, so it’s interesting to hear.

  12. @12 from Yvo: I think the Tastemakers conference is this weekend in San Francisco, no? It didn’t seem as relevant to me as the BlogHer conference, but maybe I’m being myopic. Maybe next year!

  13. I’m happy to hear that Japan Centre have really expanded their bento supplies. It was rather pitiful the last few times I visited. I wish I’m actually going down to London soon but oh well.

    Sorry to hear about your photos and material. What makes people think that they can get away with things like that?? Ugh. I’m glad it got sorted though. Have fun at your conference!

  14. thanks for the update on the Japan Centre! I visited just after their expansion into Daiso stuff (having read about it here), but I was pretty disappointed in the selection back then – just a tiny bento area I could cover with my arms and the food selection wasn’t anywhere near the Centre Point food store, or Wing Yip or a place in Ealing. But that’s good to know they’ve taken note and added more stock!

  15. @15 from Nilmandra: With your gorgeous bento photos, I’d be surprised if it doesn’t happen to you too. Ack. Enjoy your trip down to London, though! :-)

  16. @16 from Sile: To be honest, I’m not really familiar with all of the different conferences out there — Anime Milwaukee just approached me out of the blue and asked me to present. It’s not actually a thought-out speaking engagement strategy!

  17. @17 from melissa: I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on Japan Centre’s bento selection in their retail store if you wind up going again, melissa!

  18. Oh, that completly sucks about the picture stealing! I’m a member of cakecentral and people commonly steal our cake photos and make their own bakery’s site with them! Removing watermarks, backgrounds, etc. Then they claim their webmaster “accidently” used photos when they made their site for them.

  19. I’m getting exactly that thermal bento pictured in the next couple of days. I love my homemade stews and soups in winter, but they make so much I am usually eating them for dinner for 4-5 days. It will be fantastic to be able to take them to work. Unfortunately it is very hard to find bento gear here. I only know of one local seller with specific bento things (not much) though knowing my luck as soon as I get my latest stash of bento buys the store will start stocking these too just like after I got my urara box. lol

  20. @21 from Monica: Yes, that’s the line alright. Gee, we have no idea how all of these uncredited photos appeared on our site! What an awful coincidence. Ick.

  21. @22 from Metanoia: I really like the flexibility of that thermal bento set — lets me pack hot and cold food together in the same lunch. The only drawback is that the thermal food jar doesn’t retain heat as well as some of my other food jars (like the Nissan Stainless). It’s not bad, mind you, just not as good as the other one.

  22. Hey Biggie – longtime reader, first time commenter. I also read a blog that has had massive troubles with photography/content “borrowing,” and that sitemaster’s response is to overlay the watermark artistically, sometimes seamlessly, into/over/on the content so that it does not detract from the image and cannot be cropped out. This takes more time, natch, but might be worth it for you or others. You could make a small watermark that lays nicely on the side of a bento, or one that flies like a flag off of an upturned food pick? Since the blog I’m speaking of is more than a little NSFW I’m not linking you to it here – but it lays watermarks right alongside the tattoos being displayed so they cannot be easily ‘shopped.

    Thank you for this blog – I love it and appreciate how much work you do for us, your slobbering fans!

  23. @25 from Nora Rocket: Interesting approach to watermarking, Nora — one that hadn’t occurred to me. I’d be really interested in taking a look at the blog you’re referring to, if you’d care to shoot me a link (lunchinabox AT gmail DOT com). Thank you!

  24. I’ve enjoyed your blog for quite a while now & I’ll look forward to meeting you at blogher.

    I’m sorry to hear about your “borrowers.” They can borrow your pictures (and even some content) but it would be tough for anyone to keep up with your quality and style in an ongoing and meaningful way.

    Debbie
    http://www.deliciousbaby.com

  25. I’ll be at BlogHer! Flying in all the way from London for it. Can’t wait!

  26. @27 from Debbie: Thanks for leaving your link, Debbie! I’ll be sure to take a look and keep an eye open for you at BlogHer.