High Speed FoodEkiben are most commonly enjoyed on Japan's shinkansen lines. They're also enjoyed on any train that has reserved seating (on journeys of an hour or longer).
Shinkansen stations all have ekiben shops. Each station features its own local specialties. Some stations have signature ekiben that are well known throughout Japan.
Ekiben FameJapanese TV is full of variety, travel and food shows that inevitably talk about ekiben at least once a week.
Japan has legions of ekiben enthusiasts who travel the country reporting ekiben finds on ekiben blogs. There are hundreds of well known ekiben in the country. For example, the Marunochi ekiben of Tokyo station is famous in Japan.
The Marunouchi is named after a neighborhood outside Tokyo station . It's inspired by snacks that were eaten during the intermission of kabuki performances in the area (in the Edo-era).
Unusual EkibenIn the highly competitive ekiben market vendors may offer exotic dishes to attract customers. For example, the Ikameshi bento of Mori Station in Hokkaido consists of flavorful rice stuffed squid.
Ekiben KeepsakesOther ekiben have become famous for their ekiben boxes. These come in containers that can be kept as souvenirs of your journey. For example, the Daruma Bento of Takasaki come in a "lucky" plastic case modeled after traditional Japanese Dolls of a legendary Buddhist monk.
Life with EkibenEkiben represent a good value. Most are priced between 700 and 1500 yen. At the very top end some ekiben cost up to 3000 yen.
Ekiben often resemble fine cuisine and are comparable to business class meals on a decent airline.
It's best to buy your ekiben at the station if you have time. The trains themselves also sell ekiben but they tend to sell out quickly.
Ekiben shops have plastic models or photos that show you what's inside.
Ekiben MannersYour ekiben will come in a plastic bag. When you're done with your meal wrap it tightly in the plastic bag and seal it. This prevents the smell of your lunch from hanging in the cabin for the entire journey. When you get off take the bag with you. There are garbage boxes at all stations.
The regular Japanese chopstick manners apply.