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Let's Support Ekiben! -Autum

Let's Support Ekiben! -Autum

September 1, 2019
No trip by rail in Japan is complete without "ekiben."Since olden times in Japan, it has been customary to bring a "bento" along on outings such as cherry-blossom or autumn-leave viewings.
With the start of railroads in the latter half of the 19th century, the selling of bentos at train stations, "ekiben," began.
With the increase in train speed came a boom in traveling by train for private vacations.
This brought about an increase in ekiben brimming with local flavor that reflected the ingredients, dishes and tourist spots in each region.Passengers could enjoy gazing out the train window and talking with other travelers as they ate foods only available in that area.
Ekiben aren't just meant to fill your stomach. They themselves are one of the joys of traveling.At present there are several thousand kinds of ekiben sold in Japan.
They come in an infinite variety, making the most of the local character, and made from select ingredients.What's even more surprising is their level of freshness. The ingredients in ekiben are incredibly fresh, even ones that are difficult to keep fresh, such as seafood. Japan is probably the only place in the world where such foods can be purchased safely.
This is the result of the ekiben industry's food sanitation control technology.However, in recent years the number of ekiben has unfortunately been decreasing rapidly.
There are many reasons for this, such as the expansion of convenience stores and fast food restaurants, and restaurants inside stations.If this continues, is it possible that Japan's ekiben will disappear?
No! That will certainly never happen!
Ekiben are a proud part of Japanese food culture. This little part of Japan is infused with Japanese history, culture, and the devotion of the Japanese people.
There are countless people striving their hardest every day to maintain Japan's ekiben culture.Let's all join in as well to enjoy and support Japan's ekiben.
Illustration: Eri Nakada

In cooperation with Japan Railway Sales Central Association

Eri Nakada: The woman who's eaten ekiben all over Japan A pro's select ekiben

Eri Nakada: The woman who's eaten ekiben all over Japan A pro's select ekiben
Winning Single-dish Ekiben
Huge servings of proud local flavor! These single-dish bentos hit the spot!

岩手県: Ichinoseki Station "Maesawagyu Roast Beef Nigirizushi"

岩手県: Ichinoseki Station "Maesawagyu Roast Beef Nigirizushi"
1,350 yen Saito Shogetsudo

Plenty of brand-name beef, prepared in genuine restaurant style
This bento has a delicate texture that melts in your mouth, and a mellow flavor. You can fully experience the delicious taste of the Iwate Prefecture brand beef, Maesawagyu, in this gem of a bento. Using the experience gained from the roast beef served at the restaurant in the hotel they run next to the ekiben shop, they revised it to make an ekiben. The degree of roasting and slicing give it a real restaurant feel. The vinegared rice made from sticky Hitomebore rice produced in Iwate Prefecture is a powerful match for the beef.

鳥取県 :Tottori Station "Sanin Tottori Kanimeshi"

鳥取県 :Tottori Station "Sanin Tottori Kanimeshi"
1,100 yen Abe Tottorido

Every last inch is packed with crab in Japan's purest crab bento
The Sanin region is famous for its crab. There are a lot of kanimeshi dishes in Japan, but there is no other ekiben that is more purely crab than this one. Its contents are pure crab, and they come in a crab-shaped container. It's so stuffed full with moist, flaked crab that you can't see the rice. It even includes crab claws. The takikomi rice is also rich with flavor. Only crab caught locally is used, so the goodness is truly that of the Sea of Japan.

北海道 :Mori Station "Ikameshi"

北海道 :Mori Station "Ikameshi"
650 yen Ikameshi Abe Shoten

Two whole squid in a little box
Their cute, plump shapes hold irresistible squid chewiness and flavor. The squid body is filled with ordinary and glutinous rice, boiled, and then covered in a soy sauce-based sauce. The simple taste, convenient size and reasonable price have made it popular for a long time. It's perfect as a snack too. Mori Station is a small station about 50 minutes by train from Hakodate Station. This bento is also sold in department store basement food sections and fairs around the country. If you see it, please give it a try.

山梨県: Kobuchizawa Station "Kogenyasai to Katsu no Bento"

山梨県: Kobuchizawa Station "Kogenyasai to Katsu no Bento"
1,000 yen Marumasa

Eat a healthy meal of chicken cutlets and raw vegetables
Just as refreshing as the package looks, this chicken cutlet bento is quite healthy. It's filled with light chicken cutlets, and lots of fresh, raw vegetables from the surrounding area at the base of the Yatsugatake mountains. First marketed in 1970, it is the first ekiben with raw vegetables in Japan. Cover it with the mayonnaise and salt that's included to enjoy it like a salad. This bento goes great with hiking or mountain climbing, and women love it.

Ekiben Full of Special Treats

Ekiben Full of Special Treats
With a little bit of everything, even people who crave a lot will be satisfied!

新潟県 :Niigata Station "Ebi Senryo Chirashi"

新潟県 :Niigata Station "Ebi Senryo Chirashi"
1,300 yen Shibata Sanshinken

A magnificent, elegant flavor, and a great big surprise!
Even though this is an ekiben, it has a surprisingly elegant flavor. When you open the gold box, it's completely covered with tamagoyaki that look like senryo gold coins from the Edo era. What's this? It's not just tamagoyaki? Don't be alarmed! Underneath are hidden four kinds of modestly grand seafood. The shrimp, chewy squid, vinegared gizzard shad, and kabayaki eel are each meticulously flavored and have different textures.

宮城県 :Sendai Station "Kesennumasan Fukahire to Sendai Meibutsu Gyutan Bento"

宮城県 :Sendai Station  "Kesennumasan Fukahire to Sendai Meibutsu Gyutan Bento"
1,350 yen Kobayashi

A lavish bento of two greatest Miyagi Prefecture specialties, made to support the disaster reconstruction
Made to support the rebuilding after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, this single lavish box gives you a sample of two Miyagi Prefecture specialties; Kesennuma shark fin and Sendai beef tongue. Shark fin has a nice texture, and ordinarily, the tail fin is used, but this bento uses the pectoral fin to keep the price down. The seven-millimeter-thick slices of grilled beef tongue use only the central portion. The rice is Hitomebore produced in Miyagi Prefecture. Also included are bamboo-grass kamaboko, Sendai pickled eggplant and Sendai sweets.

愛知県 :Nagoya Station "Nagoya Zanmai"

愛知県 :Nagoya Station "Nagoya Zanmai"
1,650 yen Matsuura Shoten

This overflowing, three-tier bento is chock-full of specialties
On the front of the box is a spectacular gold shachihoko with powerful eyes. This bento provides a little bit of a wide variety of specialties. Box one contains this shop's pride; extremely fine ground seasoned chicken and egg on rice. Box two contains stewed vegetables and fish such as kabayaki eel. Box three contains fried foods and meats such as fried shrimp, pork tenderloin cutlet with miso sauce, Nagoya Cochin chicken shigureni. For dessert there is sweet rice jelly. It has an overall Nagoya-like rich punch to the flavor. This also goes well with alcohol.

広島県 :Hiroshima Station "Shamoji Kakimeshi"

広島県 :Hiroshima Station "Shamoji Kakimeshi"
1,200 yen Hiroshima Ekibento

A fall-winter limited bento (September to March) with the flavor of the region famous for oysters
Hiroshima produces 60% of the oysters nationwide, the most in Japan! This fun bento puts those oysters into a container shaped like another Hiroshima Prefecture specialty, the Miyajima shamoji (rice spoon). The shamoji is a symbol of good luck connected to success and prosperous business, and is used during cheering at sporting events such as for the pro baseball team, the Hiroshima Carp. The oysters are prepared in a variety of ways. Three are stewed, one has a yuzu-miso sauce, and one is fried.

Limited ekiben that are full of character

Limited ekiben that are full of character
In addition to types limited by number, season and location, there are lucky charms, freshly made and special (or added value) kinds.

1.Ofuna Station "Aji no Oshizushi"

1.Ofuna Station "Aji no Oshizushi"
960 yen (8 pieces) Ofunaken

Freshly made in a retro Western-style building, the flavor hasn't changed in 100 years
In the western building that is used as the factory and office since the beginning of the Showa period, customers can also dine at Chanomidokoro (from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.). They serve a five-piece Aji no Oshizushi with clear soup for 600 yen. It's a perfect chance to eat a freshly made ekiben, since it's normally difficult to. The vinegared rice still remains slightly warm, and tumbles apart in your mouth, but the horse mackerel has a firm, moist texture. Since it's freshly made, the vinegar seems even more mild than in the vine, making it remarkably delicious.
It's also worth taking a look at the building. The entryway and windows are accented with art deco decorations.

2.Niigata Station, Niitsu Station "SL Roman Bento"

2.Niigata Station, Niitsu Station "SL Roman Bento"
SL 浪漫弁当
1,080 yen Sanshinken

A paper model of the SL Banetsu Monogatari to commemorate your trip
This chirashizushi bento is filled with wild vegetables and seafood that reminds you of the railway town, Niitsu, the city of water, Niigata, and the castle town, Aizuwakamatsu. It comes with a 3D paper model cut in the shape of a steam locomotive. The SL Banetsu Monogatari is a once-a-day round-trip train that runs mostly on weekends and holidays between April and November on an approximately three and a half hour trip from Niigata Station to Aizuwakamatsu Station. Nicknamed Kifujin (grande dame) for her figure, she also has a classic interior.

3.Takasaki Station "Fukko Daruma Bento"

3.Takasaki Station "Fukko Daruma Bento"
1,500 yen Takasaki Bento

Adorned with a steady glare, the porcelain container is reusable
The well-known Daruma Bento comes in a red plastic container. The Fukko Daruma Bento has been sold since 2006, and is a remake of the original version that was first sold in 1960. The content of the Fukko version was also renewed. It's now a substantial bento containing mostly shigureni beef and dipped and grilled chicken. There are only six made on weekends and holidays, with only half that many sold on weekdays.

4.Takayama Station "Kaiun Sarubobo Bento"

4.Takayama Station "Kaiun Sarubobo Bento"
1,080 yen Kinkikan

A symbol of good-fortune and protection, Sarubobo, and the Gassho-zukuri World Heritage site
The Sarubobo is a doll with a red body, face and limbs in a banzai pose that wears a black hood and apron. It is a good-luck charm that has been made since long ago in the Hida region. The red color is said to exorcise evil spirits. In the belly area there is a hidden Sarubobo strap present. The inside is filled with mostly shigureni beef. You must see the Gassho-zukuri houses in the surrounding area.

5.Kobe Station "Kobe no Acchicchi Steak Bento"

5.Kobe Station "Kobe no Acchicchi Steak Bento"
1,350 yen Awajiya

A self-heating Western-food style bento that can be eaten hot from the stylish harbor city
A bento worthy of Awajiya, the founder of the self-heating ekiben. Pull the string that sticks out from the side and wait a few minutes, and you'll smell the aroma of melting beef fat. This is originally an ekiben, so even though it's delicious cold, it's been revised so that it's even better warm. It's especially effective with the beef, giving the red meat a stronger flavor.
The contents are exactly the same as the Kobe no Steak Bento, but the 100-yen difference really shows.

6.Mishima Station, Numazu Station "Mishima Monogatari Aki Biyori"

6.Mishima Station, Numazu Station "Mishima Monogatari Aki Biyori"
1000円 桃中軒
9月1日発売! 11月末までの秋限定の最新駅弁