First Anniversary Giveaway Day 3: School outing bento memories

This is the third day of the week long giveaway party to celebrate the first anniversary of Just Bento, as well as the fifth anniversary of Just Hungry. (The first day of Just Bento’s part, and the second day.) Today’s bento memory is about school outings, or ensoku.

Once or twice a year, in the spring and/or fall, Japanese schools gather up the kids in one whole grade (form, or year, depending on where you live) and herd them off to a school outing. This is called 遠足 (ensoku), which combines the kanji character for ‘long distance’ with the one for ‘feet’.

In the 6th through 9th grades I went to school in Hachioji, a large suburban town near Tokyo, which has one big natural attraction, a small mountain called Takao-zan. Most of our ensoku were hiking trips to Takao-zan. I have to admit that I hated hiking back then (am still not overly fond of huffing and puffing up a mountain, let alone trying to get down) so those outings were not my idea of a great time. One thing that redeemed it though were the bento that my mother would make for me. It didn’t matter what else was in my bento, as long as it had big, plump onigiri, and sho-yu tamago, soy-sauce eggs (recipe here):


I was very particular about what I wanted in my ensoku onigiri: One had to have umeboshi, or umekaka (umeboshi mixed with bonito flakes). For the other, I wanted grilled salted salmon (shake). If there was a third, I wanted grilled tarako. And I also loved sho-yu tamago, which were simply hard boiled eggs rolled about in a bit of soy sauce until they turn a burnished brown. Sometimes my mother was too busy and just packed unpeeled hardboiled eggs with a twist of salt, but I much preferred the sho-yu tamago. The onigiri and eggs were wrapped in aluminum foil, so I didn’t have to carry home an empty bento box in my ryukku sakku (from ‘ruck sack’, or in other words a backpack).

The school also allowed the kids to bring along snacks, or oyatsu, to the outing, but the instruction sheet sent home for anxious parents to peruse as to what gear and supplies the children should bring along specified a strict snack budget. If I remember correctly, in 6th grade it was 200 yen. The day before a school outing, the local grocery store would be packed to the rafters with kids roaming about the snack and candy shelves. We agonized over our choices: Should we get a box of Pocky or a bar of Ghana chocolate and a bag of Kalbee potato chips, or spread out our spending more and go for the sold-by-weight candies? Such difficult choices.

Anyway…on to today’s giveaway!

Just Bento Giveaway Item 3: Two traditonal-style bento books

Please check the giveaway rules in the first post. Do try to remember to keep it to one comment per item/entry, thanks! Remember: You need to give me your email address (in the email entry area) where I can contact you if you win, your name (or nickname), and your location (country).


Today’s giveaway is for fans of traditional Japanese bentos. I gave a mixed review to Bento Boxes: Japanese Meals On The Go, but it is still a solid introduction to traditional-style Japanese bento lunches in English.

I’ve paired it with a book I haven’t had a chance to talk about yet, but is from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Masayo Waki. It’s called 毎日 ムリなく 手早く おべんとう (mainichi murinaku tebayaku obento: Everyday, Low Effort, Speedy Obento). I’ve chosen this one because, while it is in Japanese, it has really clear illustrative photos that show you how to combine ingredients for a balanced bento. The combinations and styling of the bentos in here are traditional yet very current and beautiful, without being cute. Both books do rely a lot on typical Japanese ingredients, so you’ll get the most out of them if you have access to these.

DEADLINE: Your comment/entry must be posted before Midnight Greenwich Mean Time on Saturday, December 6th.

This giveaway is now closed. Thank you for participating! The winner will be announced next week. Check out the front page for the remaining open giveaways you can still enter!

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shoyu tamago!

I distinctly remember the same combination you do: onigiri stuffed with sour umeboshi and shoyu tamago on the side. Add to that a bottle of half-frozen houkenbi-cha and lunch was complete! ^^

-Kai Philadelphia, PA, USA

Great books!

Argh…I sometimes wished I grew up in Japan (hubby did) - where else can you find kalbee potato chips? When I visited Japan for the first time, I couldn’t get enough of all the snacks around. I finally understood why my hubby was so picky (spoiled!) about food…lol… — Natalie in Canada

PS - Ally from the UK - have you tried growing shiso? They grow like weeds in our garden here in Canada, so I reckon you should be able to grow some in the UK (they don’t do well in containers tho). Yomogi does well too - it’s perennial and keeps coming back strong year after year…

Sooo many comments for you

Sooo many comments for you to wade through and draw at random. I assume someone’s made an automatic comment-picker now for overwhelemed bloggers?

And I’m from Australia :)

Oooooh. ;) (Will have to

Oooooh. ;) (Will have to check out the soy sauce eggs. That sounds really nummy.)

Avlor South Dakota, USA

My mum often was a teachers

My mum often was a teachers assistant on school outings. This led to closer watching and eating shudder healthy snacks

MsDerious England

It is very nice to hear

It is very nice to hear stories!!! Christine (Québec, Canada)

I wish...

my mother had made me bento when I was in school, even simple ones. I did have some cool 70’s lunch boxes, though, so can’t complain.

Amber, Mexico

What a simple bento!

What a simple bento! Something I have to try myself one day!

Angel P from Australia :)

shoyu tamago

Thank you for giving me a great idea what to do next time I feel like egg ^^ - Hanne (currently in the UK, soon back in Germany)

Mmm truly comforting

Mmm truly comforting food. With much love, from Sydney, Australia

Location: Hawaii I’d be

Location: Hawaii

I’d be happy to win any of these prizes!

California, U.S. Ahhh,

California, U.S.

Ahhh, I’ve got a craving for onigiri now. I shall be making those tonight.

You have a wide variety of

You have a wide variety of bento books. Do you refer to them often when creating your own distinct bento boxes? Location: USA

Name: KayDat Location:

Name: KayDat Location: Australia

Happy 1 year anniversary

I am learning to make my own bento nowadays.

Mr Ibrahim, Manchester, UK

On a recent ensoku from my

On a recent ensoku from my daughter’s school, the school gave them a bag of snacks rather than allowing them to bring their own. The bag was filled with potato chips, candy, cookies, etc. She was thrilled!

Jane in Japan

Maybe this will guide me

Maybe this will guide me with my bento making! USA


Sho-yu tamago are the best!

Kristen, USA

How nice

How lovely of you to have a giveaway for your readers. Many thanks!

Ana, Spain

I would love to win a real

I would love to win a real bento box - please enter me in the draw! JJ from Canada

I would love to win a real

I would love to win a real bento box - please enter me in the draw! JJ from Canada

Shoyu tamago

The shoyu tamago looks good! I’ll definitely try it sometime.

Location: USA

Congratulations! I’m

Congratulations! I’m always impressed by the recipes you post - I’m trying to eat healthier (and learn to cook at the same time) and Just Bento and Just Hungry have been a great help.

Those simple lunches sound

Those simple lunches sound delicious! I love the memories you’re sharing this week, Maki.

Anyway, here’s to hoping I win something. :)

Lorena, California, USA


congratulations on your anniversary! i read both this blog and just hungry religiously, and even though i havent made any bentos since going away to university i hope to get back into it next year when i have my own kitchen. thanks for all the great recipes!

rachael, usa

I want to try and make the

I want to try and make the soy sauce eggs. I always love reading your blog.

-Sarah, California, USA.

Your Stories Always Make Me Smile

Ooh, looks neat :) I would love these!

Marika, United States


I love how you leave heartwarming childhood stories for us too ^_^ I actually think hiking is quite fun, but only as long as you can stick to your own pace and night doesn’t fall too early :P Norway is pretty for hiking.

Poland, where I am now, not too bad either, but I don’t think you get the same sort of soothing atmoshpere.

Thank you!

Thanks for the giveaway! Happy anniversary and keep up the good work!

Denver, CO USA

Michael from NY, USA

Michael from NY, USA

Happy Aniversary

Those books look like great references along with your wonderful blog.

Mel in Canada

Love cookbooks

I collect cookbooks and love bento - this giveaway is my dream come true!

Thank you so much again!

Thank you so much again! :D

Ami, USA


Location: Canada


What a great bento

Sometimes simple can be better! Thanks for the inspiration

Leslie from Cali- USA

There’s a chinese version

There’s a chinese version of tamago shoyu=tea eggs, made from eggs boiled in soy sauce, tea, salt, and spices. It’s delicious! Lizzie Canada

I would love to have this

Bento books are almost impossible to get here.. these would really help in brightening up my two kids’ lunchboxes !! So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed !!

Janice, Shanghai, China

Mmmm, umeboshi onigiri! I

Mmmm, umeboshi onigiri! I think I’ll make some tonight :)

kuzatab from San Francisco


I need to find a place where I can buy some sour umeboshi - it sounds awesome.

  • Alex, USA

I am going to be really

I am going to be really cheaky and enter the competitions every day because i love the stuff so much :S And yes congratulations on your aniversary, its not easy to get a blog this popular especially one about something so specific.

Lana Germany

pocky, ghana, kalbee

wow! you were already eating these stuff way back? stress eating in japan is sooo good (healthwise: bad) with all the yummy choices. not only are the chocolates and candies delicious, but there’s the senbei, an-pan, kare-pan, puddings, and ice cream. egg and soy-love both. must try しょうゆたまご。 -banana -japan

Reader from the US… Mm,

Reader from the US… Mm, shoyu tamago sound really good. I may have to try that next time I decide to make eggs.

This would be fun to

This would be fun to have! Kim Texas

Onigiri Mountains

The onigiri in the photo actually look like little mountains. How fitting!

P.S. I’m in the US

How fun!

Reading these blogs (Just Bento and Just Hungry ) has inspired many meals. Thanks for what are doing Maki!


Not enough hampsters on the wheel tonight, USA, Wyoming.

Luvvv this giveaway

I love traditional Japanese bentos…so much thoughts and love go into the making!


yummy bento!

name: joyce

country: USA

mmm, eggs. they look like tea eggs.. those are yum! :)

name: scottie country:

name: scottie country: canada eeh~ your giveaways are amazing :) and I just love how there’s a story for each day! feeling nostalgic?


Wonderful way to Celebrate your Anniversary!! Thanks for the giveaways !!! Sakiblu, New Jersey, USA