This is a hand potted ceramic box with the lid molded into the shape of the face of Daruma. It is made of a grayish white pottery with a white glaze and the features of the face are well defined. The glaze has a grainy texture to it and it has either worn off in a couple of small areas - such as his left eyebrow; or it did no adhere all that well in the firing. There are two firing holes, which would have been there to let the steam escape. It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks or restorations. The bento box measures 5 ¾” by 5 ¼” and is 3” deep. We date it to sometime between the late Meiji to early Showa period, circa 1910-1930s.
There is a multiple Kanji character raised mark on the base that has been translated as “Takasakibento”. The company who sold these items - known as Bento box (lunch box) - was established in Meiji 17(1884). This grey glazed pottery bento box - the type of food box that was sold in railroad stations to hold food for travelers - now are all plastic boxes, so these older pottery examples are becoming increasingly rare.