According to popular opinion, Ekiben was first made around 1880. Initial Ekiben was quite simple as it included only rice balls and pickles were wrapped in a bamboo sheath. But gradually a local food culture started to be reflected in it and now a variety of Ekiben, including ones to enjoy the flavor of local specialties and seasons, ones called Makunouchi bento which have steamed white rice and several kinds of side dishes, and ones in a unique lunch boxes, are being sold.
Ekiben is being sold at major stations across Japan, but “Ekibenya Matsuri” in Central Street on the first floor of Tokyo station carries more than 170 kinds of Ekiben everyday from various places in Japan. This time, we will introduce some of the unique ones and with excellent ideas that you can purchase at this shop.
Some Ekiben have been loved by people for many years. “Toge No Kamameshi” from Annaka City in Gunma Prefecture is a popular Ekiben that has been sold for more than 50 years. This has flavored rice with seasoned mushrooms and chicken on top. It is in an earthenware pot of Mashiko ware, a famous pottery in Japan, which can be re-used after eating. 1,000 yen.
“30 Items Balance Bento” is a popular bento which uses well-balanced 30 ingredients including fish, meat and vegetables with a beautiful presentation. 900 yen (the content of the dish may change occasionally).
Ekiben have evolved with the wisdom and ideas of Japanese people. One of such Ekiben is a thermal type container which heats your lunch when you pull a string. “Gyu-tan Bento” from Sendai in Tohoku region has a perfect harmony of rice and beef tongue, which turns soft when heated and cooked. 1,350 yen.
There are Ekiben full of ideas for kids to enjoy. “Shinkansen E7 Series Bento” is popular with its container imitating the body of JR Hokuriku Shinkansen that started running in March, 2015. The container can be used for keeping small items after eating. 1,300 yen.
Ekiben will make your trip on a train more exciting. Why don’t you get to the station a little early and find your favorite Ekiben?