Ekiben fairs from all over the country are very popular when they are held at department stores (“ekiben” is a lunch box sold at a railway station or in the train, often with local specialties). Have you experienced lining up a big queue to buy your favorite ekiben and seeing it sold out before you can get one? “Ekibenya Matsuri” is open every day for such customers. There you can buy famous ekiben from all over the country. If you travel a lot and have become bored of eating the same ekiben every time, don’t worry – “Ekibenya Matsuri” has an attractive rich selection of 170 ekiben types. Now let me introduce you that shop.
“Ekibenya Matsuri” is on the first floor of the central street inside Tokyo StationOffering a wide selection of ekiben from Hokkaido to Kyushu, “Ekibenya Matsuri” is located on the central street inside JR Tokyo Station, near the central entrance for the Shinkansen.
It is open every day from 5:30 till 23:00. You can buy a lunch box for your trip or you can take it home as a souvenir gift. In my case we are two people so we buy the two ekiben boxes we like and eat them together at home.
Look at the ekiben menu on the wall to see the variety offered!It can get very crowded in the shop and sometimes it might be difficult to find the ekiben you’re looking forward among the big variety. In such cases you should check the big menu display on the wall.
The real-size ekiben models displaying the content are easy to see in crowded times and make you feel happy even by looking at them. You can enjoy your time picking what to buy. The display on the wall is so colorful and enticing that you would want to have it at home too. Choose your favorite ekiben and go to the showcase!
Search for your desired ekiben!The ekiben boxes in the showcase are grouped by types so even if you don’t find the one you picked from the menu, you can still find something similar! You will see many carefully packaged boxes displayed in the showcase, each of which has its own individuality. The price and content are described on the package, so don’t worry about finding your desired one. There are 170 types, so pick what you feel like on the day you go – seafood or meat – and enjoy your ekiben.
The mood that day was seafood mealAs for me, the day I went I chose Akashi Station’s “Hipparidakomeshi (octopus lunch box)” for 980 JPY and Fukui Station’s “Echizen Kanimeshi (crab lunch box)” for 1100 JPY. Both seem to be popular so I wanted to try them.
“Hipparidakomeshi” is a popular ekiben created in 1998 for the completion of Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge. Inside you will find Akashi octopus, conger eel, shiitake mushroom, rape blossoms, chopped egg, carrots - and all those fresh ingredients are put over seasoned rice. (I’m sorry there is no photo; try to imagine it) The softness of the simmered octopus is surprising!
The box is an actual pottery in the shape of a jar that you can use for various things at home. Personally, I use it to put the removed fish bones when I cook. You can also use it for putting kitchen utensils.
The “Echizen Kanimeshi” that day was cooked in the shop’s own kitchenThe other ekiben I bought that day was “Echizen Kanimeshi”. There is a kitchen in one of the shop’s corners where they make various ekiben and you can buy them freshly cooked.
Local ekiben chefs had come for cooking in front of the customers and there was a big pile of crabs in a box. It was impressive to watch the chefs put vinegared rice in the ekiben boxes and pieces from the crab’s big legs! Those who watch that will definitely want to buy the ekiben.
Of course I also bought it! When I opened the red plastic crab-shaped box, I was impressed by the crab pieces put over the rice. Spread some chopped dried seaweeds and you have a real sea jewel box. The crab meat is very delicious, making this ekiben quite luxurious. And it was freshly cooked so both the rice and the crab were very soft.
The ekiben they cook in front of you changes regularly so be sure to check what’s being prepared now and enjoy the taste of a freshly made meal! But go early because the freshly cooked ekiben tend to sell out quickly.
At “Ekibenya Matsuri” in Tokyo Station you can buy popular ekiben from all over the country.
It’s nice to visit all the places and try their ekiben, but it’s also nice to buy them from Tokyo Station and think about the places where the lunch boxes originally come from. Enjoy the feeling of your favorite ekiben’s region and maybe soon you will want to visit that place.
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