Ekiben, The Train Bento

Ekiben, or the Japanese train bento box, is a prepared lunch box meant to take on the train.

Ekiben, which literally means “station bento,” has been a popular food item in Japan since the early 20th century. It is often sold at train stations and is a convenient and tasty way for commuters and travelers to enjoy a meal on the go.

Ekiben typically contains a variety of dishes, such as rice, meat or fish, vegetables, and pickles, all neatly arranged in a disposable container. Some Ekiben even include local specialties, such as seafood or regional delicacies, that are unique to the area where they are sold.

One of the most famous Ekiben in Japan is the “ekiben” from the city of Kyoto called “ekiben Yuba-don”. It features yuba (tofu skin), a specialty of Kyoto, on top of a bed of rice.

In addition to its convenience, Ekiben is also known for its artistic presentation. The food is carefully arranged and decorated, often with colorful ingredients and intricate designs, making it a feast for both the eyes and the taste buds.

The meals vary by train station and are typically a local speciality. At their peak in the 1980s an estimated 12 million ekiben were consumed daily in Japan.

Today, Ekiben has become a part of Japanese culture and is considered a must-try for anyone traveling by train in Japan. Many people collect Ekiben from different regions as souvenirs and to experience the unique flavors of each area.

Price of Ekiben

The price of Ekiben can vary depending on the ingredients and location where it is sold. Generally, Ekiben can range from around 500 to 2000 yen (approximately 4 to 18 USD), but some specialty or high-end Ekiben can cost even more. Prices may also vary depending on the time of day, with some Ekiben being sold at a lower price in the evening as they are made with leftover ingredients from the daytime sales.