Ekiben are special bento boxes for train travel. They are the traveller’s friend, and saviour of the non-Japanese-speaking tourist. Pop into any train station or supermarket and hunt through the shelves of refrigerated delights for something that vaguely looks like something you will eat.
The egg fried rice is always perfect, and the little pork dumplings hit the spot, even when eaten cold. Or a fish bento box is a delicious change.
Mostly you can tell what you’re getting – some fried chicken, for example, and the pickles and other accompaniments complement the food.
Sometimes you’re in a rush and end up picking something weird like three types of rice, some Korean fried chicken,half an egg, a piece of smoked trout, something that tastes like Indian potato bhaji, and what can only be described as half a cooked Bird’s Eye beef burger. But you eat it anyway.
And don’t forget your chilli sauce to liven things up if needed!