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Japanese lunch box “ EKI-BEN”

 2016/02/10 Japanese Culture   25 Views

about our favorite EKI-BEN



EKI-BEN is a lunch box which we can buy at train station. The word “EKI” means station and “BEN” is short word for BENTO, or box lunch.

When you travel by local train or ordinary express, you can open the window and buy ekiben.

You can also buy ekiben and tea from trolleys in the train or at the station kiosk.

Anyting special food is one big event in a trip, but finding good and expensive restaurant is not only the way to have good meal.EKI-BEN is one good way to enjoy the special food of the location in Japan.
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EKI-BEN competitions

There are many EKI-BEN competitions held in Japan to decide best BENTO in quality,popularity, recommended by many people, performance against price and so on, sometimes with in the particular area and sometimes all around the nation.

There are some EKI-BENs just concerning taste of the food, but many are concentrating on introducing their sea and agricultural crops around that area.

Rules of eating EKI-BEN inside train

There are no written rules of eating food inside of the trains in Japan, though we have some common sense rules most people follows.  It is very hazy rule so I cannot say anything definite but, if you can keep it in a corner of your mind we appreciate it a lot.

No.1, we don’t eat in a crowded train. Also we usually avoid having a full lunch in the train with this type of sheets.

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These are the sheets we think it is all right to have a meal.

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Varieties of local EKI-BEN

There are many kinds of local EKI-BEN throuhout Japan. I will show you some of them.

Shinkan-sen EKI-BEN

The special EKI-BEN you can find in a Shinkansen station is Shinkansen shaped box lunch.This kind of EKI-BENs only can be bought on the Shinkansen but in the Tokyo Station, you can find them without buying the express train ticket.

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“Masu no Sushi” from Toyama Prefecture.  

This is common old fashion sushi of Japan, have a fish pressed on to vinegar taste rice.

Historically sushi was a way to keep the fish not get rotten for some hours without refrigerator or ice, so they use vinegar and bamboo leaf, both known to help keeping the food fresh.

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“Kani-Meshi” from Tottori Prefecture

The word “Kani” means crab and “Meshi” is old word for cooked rice. This EKI-BEN is rice covered with boiled crab meat.

Japanese people don’t use the word “meshi” in the formal situation, though some people, especially boys and old men, use this word intending a meal.

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“Tako-Meshi” from Hyogo Prefecture

This EKI-BEN is in a ceramic jar, which you can use after you ate the food inside.

“Tako” is the word for octopus and “meshi” means rice as you already know.

Traditionally and even in today popular way to fish octopus is using jars  So the design of the ceramic jar for this EKI-BEN is very familiar for Japanese.

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“Kama-Meshi” from Gunma Prefecture.

This may be the most famous ceramic jar EKI-BEN in Japan, called “Kama-Meshi” from Gunma Prefecture.

This jar is shape of KAMA which is old shape of pot for cooking rice.

This EKI-BEN is also a very long selling product, first sold in 1958′, 56 years ago from this year, 2016′.

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“Shiumai-Bento”

Most famous EKI-BEN of Kanagawa Prefectur is “Shiumai-Bento” Yokohama has a big Chinese town,so this EKI-BEN contains Chinese meat dumpling called “shiumai.”This  EKI-BEN contains 4 shiumais and some other side foods with rice.

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Summary



There are many kinds of EKI-BEN throughout Japan.  If you buy a BENTO at a convenience store maybe the price of one box is 400 to 600 Yen, therefore EKI-BEN is a bit priced higher than those everyday food for Japanese people.

Though, it is nice to have special food during a long train ride, makes your trip more memorable.

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