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

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

April 21, 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 that make you feel spring & for celebrations

Ekiben that make you feel spring & for celebrations
Ekiben that make you feel spring & for celebrations
Spring in Japan is a time of many celebrations. Why not enjoy Japanese cherry blossoms while having a spring-like, colorful ekiben with ingredients that can only be had in spring?

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.
 

FUKUSHIMA :Koriyama Station "Miharu Takizakura Bento"

FUKUSHIMA :Koriyama Station "Miharu Takizakura Bento"
三春滝桜べんとう
1,050 yen Fukumameya

Based on one of Japan's three great cherry blossom trees, the Miharu Takizakura
This bento is only available from March to Golden Week. The giant benishidare cherry blossom tree, Miharu Takizakura, is estimated to be 1,000 years old and is a natural monument of Japan. Nearby you can also see plum and peach trees at the same time. The inside of the bento box, which is the color of cherry blossoms, is loaded with spring foods, such as salt pickled cherry blossoms and rapeseed, bamboo shoots, cherry-blossom-shaped konnyaku, sweetened green peas, syrup pickled peaches, fukimiso, and the spring fish, Spanish mackerel. Both your eyes and tongue can sense spring.
 

OKAYAMA: Okayama Station "Momotaro no Matsurizushi"

OKAYAMA: Okayama Station "Momotaro no Matsurizushi"
桃太郎の祭ずし
1,000 yen Miyoshino Honten

The pink, peach-shaped container is so cute!
The box that has a drawing of a strong and gallant Momotaro. Opening it reveals an incredibly cute container. Inside are foods of Momotaro's hometown, Okayama Prefecture. Born from the know-how of ordinary citizens after the thrift ordinances of their lord, this dish is essential at local festivals. This chirashizushi bento is made of bright seafood and wild vegetables are spread on top of sweet sushi rice. It contains such foods as boiled shrimp, Spanish mackerel, small sea bream, octopus, sweet and sour pickled Japanese sardinella, boiled conger eel, and rapeseed pickled in soy sauce.
 

YAMAGATA :Yonezawa Station "Gyuniku Takenoko Okowa"

YAMAGATA :Yonezawa Station "Gyuniku Takenoko Okowa"
牛肉たけのこおこわ
1,050 yen Matsukawa Bentoten

Sukiyaki-style beef and spring bamboo shoots
Contained inside a simple, bamboo-sheath style container is a bento with a solid flavor. On top of rice cooked with wild vegetables and bamboo shoots, you'll find sukiyaki-style boiled beef, and a massive amount of the great Japanese standard spring food, stewed bamboo shoots. It's the kind of flavor you'd expect from an ekiben shop whose other bentos that include Yonezawa beef are Yonezawa Sumibiyaki Tokujo Kalbi Bento and Yonezawagyu Yakinikuju Matsukawa Bento. Reservations two days ahead of time are required.
 

CHIBA:Chiba Station, Kisarazu Station "Nanohana Bento"

CHIBA:Chiba Station, Kisarazu Station "Nanohana Bento"
菜の花弁当
650 yen Manyoken

Ride the Boso local train surrounded in flowers
Designed to be as colorful as the Chiba Prefecture's official flower, the rapeseed, this ekiben fills you with a sense of spring. The homemade seasoned ground chicken and fine scrambled eggs, as well as the side dish of skewered asari clams are very Chiba-like. It is a well-liked bento thanks to the warm and friendly package and low price. This is a best-selling bento at Chiba Station, appealing to a wide range of people, from children and women to the elderly. Even though it's compact and reasonably priced, it's very filling.
 

KANAGAWA: Odawara Station, Atami Station "Taimeshi"

KANAGAWA: Odawara Station, Atami Station "Taimeshi"
鯛めし
830 yen Tokaken

Sea bream, a symbol of celebration, in an ekiben with a 120-year history
First sold in 1897, Taimeshi is packed with a labor-intensive ground sea bream on rice cooked in tea and seasoned with soy-sauce. It comes with a wooden spoon, so it's easy to eat it without spilling. Created with the idea of making a steam-train bento for kids, it has a sweet flavor, and the more you chew, the more flavorful it becomes. Wasabizuke, yuzu-daikonzuke and asari-clam tukudani are a nice harmony that rounds out the flavor.
 

HIROSHIMA :Fukuyama Station "Shunsai Sukiyaki Bento"

HIROSHIMA :Fukuyama Station "Shunsai Sukiyaki Bento"
春彩すき焼き弁当
1,130 yen Hamakichi

Locally produced beef garnished with spring colors
A satisfying bento of sukiyaki wrapped in a pink package. Each slice of beef is gigantic. Only beef that is certified to be raised in Hiroshima Prefecture is used. Since there is little fat, it tastes delicious even cold. In addition to the standard tamagoyaki and stewed vegetables, it also comes with other spring foods like bamboo shoots, salt pickled cherry blossoms and rapeseed. Only available from December to June. From July to November the autumn version with matsutake mushrooms is available.
 

KANAGAWA :Ofuna Station "Shirasu Bento"

KANAGAWA :Ofuna Station "Shirasu Bento"
しらす弁当
920 yen Ofunaken

Whitebait flavor that evokes the sea breeze
Ofunaken is an ekiben shop that was founded in 1898, and has been known for over 100 years for their Aji no Oshizushi. Their other standard bento, Shirasu Bento, is a fine ekiben packed with whitebait that evokes the sea. Each food is carefully made. In addition to being sold at its home in Ofuna, it's also available in Fujisawa, Odawara and Kamakura, as well as at Shinjuku and Tokyo Stations. It's the perfect companion for sightseeing or a date to Enoshima and all its sights, such as the views, shrines and caves.
 

EHIME :Imabari Station "Seto no Oshizushi"

EHIME :Imabari Station "Seto no Oshizushi"
瀬戸の押し寿司
880 yen Futaba

The flavor of sea bream toughened by the rapid tides
This bento is from the Seto Inland Sea, one of Japan's foremost producers of sea bream. Inside, it's full of meat from one of Japan's three greatest areas of rapid tides, the Kurushima Strait. The Kurushima specialty, Taimeshi, includes rice cooked in Japanese-style broth. It's a joy to find chunks of meat mingled in with the flaked meat. You can sense the traditional flavor that hasn't changed since olden times. The retro package is also a treat. If you aren't satisfied with the amount, there are also deluxe 1,000 and 1,220-yen versions.