Ah, ekiben. Such a clever idea. Make mediocre packaged lunches with famous local goods, and sell them to people who have a long train ride ahead of them. 駅- eki - means train station, and 弁当 - bento - is a packaged lunch. Here is an example of one from Tottori Prefecture, using local matsubagani crab:
There is a fascination with these things. Everyone I've asked is happy to have a culinary chance.
But I'm always a dick about it, spoiling their fun. "You know, you can buy that in Tokyo." Shock. Followed by denial. Guilt for wasting some yen. Acceptance.
Here's a photo of the shop front that I stole from the internet.
Google Map for ma gangstas. I mean my Granstas!
So there you go. You can buy the most famous of the country's ekiben all in one place. Mediocre packaged lunches by the train-load must arrive in Tokyo every morning. I recognize a few I've bought, back when I didn't know. I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance!
All the regional ekibens of Japan, available everyday at Tokyo Station!
There's the Tottori one!
This is my favorite one, available to many stations in Tokyo (even though it says it is from Nara). 柿の葉寿司 - sushi wrapped in persimmon leaves. The salted leaves have curing properties, keeping the sushi fresh. Super bomb!
You are not meant to eat the persimmon leaves, but I do. Like a rookie. Whatever.
Honestly, though, these ekibens are just $10, and coupled with a cold beer the make for a tasty train snack. And the Tokyo Station Ekiben Shop is a one-off thing, so folks outside of this big, stinky city have to travel for their gimmick-food.
Ha! Figures. In 70 years no one will be living in those places anyway. The ekiben will all be made at the same plant in a Tokyo suburb and sold as nostalgia gimmicks.
Do you plan on ever returning to the States?
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