Let's Support Ekiben! -Winter-
March 25, 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