Ekiben, the bento boxes at the train stationSergio Dioguardi
Ekiben (駅 弁 station lunch) is a special type of bento box sold at the train station or on the trains themselves throughout Japan. They are usually packed together with disposable chopsticks (if needed to consume the meal) or by the spoon. Ekiben containers are made of plastic, wood, or ceramic. In Japan there are many train stations famous for their ekiben, which contain the tasty local specialties (tokusanhin). Today ekiben can be found both inside kiosks located on the sidewalks next to the tracks, but also in supermarkets and konbini (minimarkets).
The first ekiben sold at the station date back to the late 19th century and spread at a time when, during long journeys, having a meal on the train was necessary.
The sale of ekiben reached the peak of success in the 1980s. In the last decade, with the explosion of tourism, their popularity has increased significantly, especially among tourists and travelers who move around the country using high-speed trains (shinkansen). By purchasing ekiben, visitors have the opportunity to taste the many Japanese specialties and keep the bento boxes collected during the trip as a souvenir.
Ekiben are not just simple snacks, but real meals packaged and presented with extreme care, consisting of very fresh foods, whose components are ideal for a balanced diet.
The classic ekiben found throughout Japan is made up of a base of rice, grilled fish, pickled gherkins and a dessert. However, there are all kinds of them even with instant noodles that heat up automatically by opening the box at the time of consumption. The most popular are those with sushi or delicious sandwiches (sando), cutlets (katsu sando), eggs (tamago sando) or sweet fruit sando (fruit sando). Next to the latter, there are also ekiben with local specialties, which vary according to each specific geographical area.
In Japanese bookstores, ekiben guides are even sold (in Japanese only).
You can enjoy your healthy home cooked lunch even away from home
All the bento boxes on our site are ideal for transporting when traveling by train, plane or car. Compact and robust, they allow you to compose your favorite meal using the separators or bento boxes with stackable compartments. You can combine different dishes and enjoy a balanced and complete meal wherever you are.