Toge no Kamameshi: A Classic Ekiben Bento with History
Have you ever heard of bento boxed lunch being sold mainly at large train stations in Japan?
It’s called “Ekiben (駅弁)“, and a large variety of Ekiben bento boxes, over a thousand! can be seen in Japan.
In fact, many large local train stations are offering Ekiben using regional specialties and dishes, and such Ekiben bentos are usually marketed by local food companies.
Oginoya Toge no Kamameshi Bento
Among those local Ekiben bentos, the “Toge no Kamameshi (峠の釜飯)” bento pictured above (Price: 1100 yen/ about 10 USD) is one of the most famous and has long been loved.
Toge no Kamameshi is a classic Ekiben bento with a long history that went on sale in 1958. It is produced and sold by “Oginoya (おぎのや)”, the oldest Ekiben maker in Japan.
Although Ekiben bentos are usually packed in paper containers, the meal of Toge no Kamameshi is sold in a small pottery pot. By the way, “Kamameshi (釜飯)” is a kind of Japanese pilaf dish cooked in a small pottery pot.
Mashiko Yaki (益子焼)
The small pot for the Toge no Kamameshi bento is from “Mashiko Yaki (益子焼)”, which is the earthware with about 150 years of history made in and around the town of Mashiko, Tochigi Prefecture.
One primary reason why the meal of Toge no Kamameshi is carried in the small earthware of Mashiko Yaki is that the Kamameshi dish can be served hot, whose idea was epoch-making at the time.
As a matter of fact, when the Toge no Kamameshi bento was started to be sold, it was served hot, but today it’s not.
Where to Buy
At first, the Toge no Kamameshi bento was an Ekiben bento locally sold only at JR Yokokawa Station in Gunma Prefecture.
But today, it can be bought in Ekiben fairs sometimes held in department stores and supermarkets, in addition to being sold in JR Tokyo Station.
Therefore, if you are an Ekiben beginner interested in the Japanese boxed lunches and have a chance to stop by the train station, I will highly recommend the Toge no Kamameshi bento as your first Ekiben to try.
The pilaf dish of the Toge no Kamameshi bento is well-seasoned with soy sauce-based stock,
and the biggish ingredients on top, such as chicken, chestnut, apricot, Shiitake mushrooms, and bamboo shoots, all taste good and will make you satisfied.
Based on the official website of Oginoya, the Toge no Kamameshi bento has 756 kcal per serving.