Over the weekend I took a trip down to Tokyo for a business meeting and to enjoy some quality shochu andyakitori with friends. I was leaving the house around lunchtime when my mother-in-law asked if I wanted some of the curry she was cooking before I left. I told her no thanks — what I wanted for lunch was ekiben, the famous “train station bento” that you buy to eat on a train. The world of train station bento lunches is great — each station makes it own unique type, which represents what that part of Japan is known for. If you visit Toyama along the Sea of Japan, buying masu-no-sushi bento (salmon sushi sold in a big wooden frame) is great, and when my son and I made our trip to Hokkaido, we knew we had to try Ikemeshi Bento. The nearby city of Takasaki is famous for daruma dolls, so naturally you can buy Daruma Bento at the train station there.
Walking around Tokyo is always fun. In my home prefecture of Gunma, located about 100 km northwest of Tokyo, most people drive their cars when they need to go somewhere, but in Tokyo it’s more common to use the the extensive network of trains and subways instead. This means you’ve always got at least 50-100 people around you whenever you’re out and about, which means plenty of opportunity for one of my favorite hobbies, people-watching. As usual, I’m always amazed at the intensity of the fashion culture I see in Japan’s capital, with extremely attractive Tokyo girls sporting interesting fashions that can sometimes make my eyes spin in their sockets. By which I mean they are so beautiful that foreigners in Gunma informally talk about to the “Wall of Omiya” (a city between Gunma and Tokyo) as the point where all the pretty, stylish girls get off the train.