Talk about sustainable packaging... These Sasa-dangos (mochi pounded rice balls filled with red bean paste and seasoned with mugwort) are wrapped in bamboo leaves and bound with a vine. You steam it inside the bamboo grass wrap then unwrap and eat. Simple, functional, beautiful and tasty.
While the above presentation looks like they were wrapped to be sold in a trendy gourmet boutique the convention of wrapping these dumplings in bamboo is a function of utility, not aesthetics or sustainability. In rural areas people become very adept at doing more with less, using the limited resources at hand. This natural wrap served to preserve the dumplings as well as making them easy to carry and cook. The unintended results are a well presented meal that is wrapped in all natural and abundant materials. The Japanese seem to have a knack at melding functional and beautiful.
Image via hiromy on flickr