Is it not delightful to have an ekiben come from afar? (Summer)

June 11, 2019
Japan is about to welcome the season of new green leaves and you can feel a hint of summer in the air. Summer holidays will be starting soon! It's a great opportunity to travel around Japan at leisure, with your family or friends.A trolley train or a steam train? There are so many seasonal trains operated during summer that you'll be spoilt for choice. You can opt for a gorgeous trip on a luxurious train or enjoy the view of the countryside and lush vegetation from the window of a local train. Find and enjoy your own railway trip, as your time permits.Actually, the true charm of Japanese summer is revealed at night. Fireworks, summer festivals, firefly catching, yukata, shaved ice... The custom of enjoying summer nightlife and its beautiful colors is deep rooted in Japan.The beauty of midsummer nights is ephemeral. It shines brightly and disappears in the blink of an eye, like a firework. Why don't you share the emotion of this dreamlike, fleeting beauty with the people you love? And, of course, don't forget to bring your favorite ekiben with you. All aboard for a railway trip through the Japanese summer!

Illustration: Eri Nakada
In cooperation with Japan Railway Sales Central Association

Ekiben for summer

Plenty of seasonal ingredients that make you feel summer! From stamina ekiben that help you beat the summer heat, to seasonal limited edition bento!

Eri Nakada: The woman who's eaten ekiben all over Japan
A pro's select ekiben
Reporting & illustrations: Eri Nakada
Born in Iwate Prefecture. Currently, she is based in Tokyo, drawing and writing essays having to do with travel and ekiben. She has had about 300 different ekiben, and writes about around 100 different ekiben and travel spots in her book, Ekiben Joshi, Nippon Zenkoku Tabi Shite Tabete. Among her other books are Otona Joshi Yokubari Shumatsu Tabitecho and Kisseki no Ippon Matsu, Otsunami wo Norikoete.

YAMANASHI :Kobuchizawa Station "Kobuchizawa Marumasa no Shinshugyu Obento"

1,980 yen Marumasa

Enjoy a savory beef bento that melts in your mouth at a cool summer resort
The most delicious beef bento I have ever tasted! It is packed with Shinano region brand beef "Apple Raised Shinshugyu". A5 and A4 grade beef, the highest in meat grading system, is grilled to remove excess fat and infuse the meat with flavor and aroma. Even cold, the meat is so tender it melts in your mouth and the thin layer of shredded cabbage adds a refreshing taste to this bento. Its flavor is halfway between beef bowl and grilled meat and everyone will definitely love it!

NIIGATA:Nagaoka Station "Kitsune Inari to Sakekikuzushi"

1,050 yen Ikedaya

A cute ekiben designed by women for women
Nagaoka Fireworks Festival is held in Niigata Prefecture every year on August 2nd and 3rd. This ekiben contains three ball-shaped, cute temarizushi that resemble fireworks. And they are delicious too! The sweet tofu skin of "Kitsune Inari", which is supposed to represent a fox's tail, matches well with the sharp taste of vinegared rice. "Kikuzushi", made with edible chrysanthemum, features tororo kombu, which gives it a squeaky texture. Topped with slices of salmon belly marinated in vinegar, the fatty "Sakezushi" leaves you satisfied with just a few bites.

WAKAYAMA :Wakayama Station "Meharizushi"

600 yen Suiryoken

A flavor that brings you back to ancient times, along the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Routes
World Heritage Site Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Routes are a very popular tourist destination. A local specialty of Kishu-Kumano region, these onigiri have been known since ancient times as an on-the-go food for mountain workers and farmers. Now they are made in ordinary households as well. The bright green of the takana leaves is beautiful to see and its refreshing, simple taste makes this ekiben a perfect summer meal. A feast for the eyes and the taste buds! Try also "Kodaisuzumezushi" bento

SHIZUOKA :Hamamatsu Station "Hamamatsu Unagimeshi"

2,630 yen Jishotei

A typical Japanese summer tradition, eating eel where it is caught
Hamamatsu is one of Japan's major eel producing areas. Japanese-produced eels, mainly caught in the nearby Lake Hamana, are used in this ekiben. The thick kabayaki eel has a firm texture and it is quite filling. The thin tamagoyaki that covers the rice mixed with sauce gives it a luxurious look. Different variations of eel ekiben include "Unagi Bento" (2,430 yen), cooked in red wine, and "Hitsumabushi" (1,650 yen), which comes with a can of tea.

KAGOSHIMA :Kagoshima Central Station "Kurobuta Yokocho"

1,080 yen Shoeiken

Three tastes of Kurobuta pork in a satisfying bento, to recharge your energy in summer
This ekiben uses 100% "Kagoshima Kurobuta", a brand pork raised, fattened and shipped in and from Kagoshima Prefecture. It can be enjoyed in three ways: "Kurobuta Pork Bone", "Kurobuta Pork Cutlet" and "Charcoal Grilled Kurobuta Pork". The last, in particular, stands out for the savory aroma of the meat soaked in rich-flavored Satsuma soy sauce and its irresistible flaking texture. Ground seasoned pork on rice and stewed vegetables, along with a refreshing vinegar salad and a pickled lotus root shaped like a flower, complete this well-balanced bento.

KANAGAWA:Yokohama Station and others "Obento Hatsunatsu"

700 yen Kiyoken

A limited edition bento, perfect for a crisp early summer day! (sold until mid-June)
From rice with wild vegetables to seasonal wakame, this well-balanced bento contains a little bit of a wide variety of foods. Two shiumai, a signature item of Kiyoken bentos, are included. An extremely satisfying taste for a very reasonable price! Other early summer limited edition products, such as "Oishisa Nagamochi Asari Shiumai" and "Yokohama Geppei Mango", are perfect as souvenirs. Starting from "Obento Natsu", sold from mid-June, Kiyoken sells various seasonal limited edition bentos throughout the year, so make sure you check them out!