First Anniversary Giveaway Day 5: My Too Short Hot Summer

This is the final day of the Just Hungry/Just Bento Anniversary Giveaway. It’s been a lot of fun going back to the past and sharing my memories with you, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them!

And here’s the last chapter of my trips to the past, coming back to the present.

When I was 16, my father got a job offer in New York, and my parents decided to move back to the U.S. - this time on a more or less permanent basis. I didn’t really want to go, but my parents couldn’t be convinced to leave me behind to finish high school. Nevertheless, they did let me stay behind for one month more to finish up my club activities (I was in the art club) at my high school during summer vacation.

For this month, I stayed with my oba-chan (grandmother), my aunt and uncle and my two male cousins. They lived in a small town (now no longer that small) in Saitama prefecture, and my high school was in the suburbs of Tokyo, so the commute was pretty long, but I didn’t mind. For the last hot days of July and part of August, I took the train almost every day so that I could work on a big installation that our club was constructing.

Perhaps because my cousins were both rowdy boys, my aunt and grandmother loved having me around, and really spoiled me. My aunt, who did most of the cooking, always asked me if I wanted to eat something special. “I can go and get some beef from the department store if you want”, she’d say - the local grocery store didn’t sell any beef, just pork and chicken. She made bento lunches for me to bring to school too, even though she was busy working in the family workshop during the day (they made, and still make, shoji screens and shutters). My oba-chan, who was not very well (she suffered two strokes in her 50s) was still in charge of making umeboshi, and she would insist that my cousins and I have at least one a day, to combat the hot summer weather.

That last summer in Japan of my teenage years will always remain a happy place in my heart. (It was also the last time I saw my oba-chan, who had another stroke and passed away some years later. I’d been so rude to her when I was in my low teens and going through a rebellious phase, so I’m really glad that we had that wonderful summer together.) When I finally had to leave to go to New York, I cried in the plane. What was to follow was a difficult year for me; I hated my high school on Long Island, where I couldn’t seem to make any friends (everyone had known each other since elementary school, and they weren’t that openly welcoming to a shy new Asian girl). Partly because of that I started to eat to comfort myself, and in just a year I went from about 50 kilo (110 pounds) to more than 70 (150 pounds). I’ve had weight issues on and off ever since. My parents weren’t that happy with the move themselves either, and they split up a couple of years later.

It was only really recently, in the last 3-4 years or so, when I started to really take hold of my eating habits and my health, and re-discovering bentos has been a large part of that process. There is really something so comforting about knowing that, at lunchtime there is a small box of healthy food that waiting for you. That’s when I started thinking about starting up a bento blog. I already had Just Hungry, and at first I was going to make bentos part of that, but I decided that it was important enough of a subject to make into its own blog. So - that’s how Just Bento was born! My hope is that by reading what I have learned, and re-learned, about bento lunches, readers of Just Bento can take a little control of their health back too.

So here we are, the last giveaway item!

Just Bento Giveaway Item 5: Kobo Aizawa Medium Rectangular Stainless Steel Bento Box

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).


This is my favorite bento box, and I’ve used it in many of the featured bentos pictured on the site. It’s a stainless steel bento box by Kobo Aizawa, and featured here previously (that page also has buying info if you don’t win this drawing). It has a latch-on lid with a silicon seal, and a stainless steel divider plate inside. The capacity is 670ml, so it’s good for medium appetites. (The way I pack this box, the calorie count usually comes in around 500.)

This is a quality bento box, that has a nice heft but is still light enough to carry every day. The the lid latches snap into place in a very satisfying way, and it just feels well made. Since it’s stainless steel you can’t microwave it, but that’s a very small loss.

Important note: This item will be shipped to you directly from Japan. I’m not guaranteeing Christmas delivery for any of the giveaways, but you really shouldn’t count on it for this item. But hey, consider it to be a present for yourself! :)

This, and all the giveaways, are now closed. Thank you for participating! The winners will be announced later this week!

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This would be perfect for my

This would be perfect for my significant other, who isn’t so much into the cute usagi bento boxes I have. :)

Kai Philadelphia, PA, USA

Ooh again!

I love the utility of this bento box. Looks like it would be very happy to be covered with all my stickers I have had no use for as of late. Of course, happy anniversary!!!

This would be a perfect

This would be a perfect bento for my no nonsense love. I love reading your blogs on justhungry and justbento because they are very similar to the experiences that I’ve had. I too remember leaving Burma for the first time and crying on the airplane. I soon gained weight after arriving to Houston because of the lack of Burmese people I knew in the city. Thanks for all the blogs Maki!

Nyein Fort Collins, CO, USA


My boyfriend would love this :)

Happy First Joyous Anniversary!

Marika, United States

Ok, I know I have a serious

Ok, I know I have a serious lunch box/bento box problem in my life and I keep promising myself that I won’t bring any more home (but it jumped into my bag, I swear)…but this one is really nifty looking - I like the clean lines of it!

Simple, Clean

Very nice.

Matt, CO, USA

My husband would love this,

My husband would love this, too. He has a similar stainless-steel container, but it doesn’t have a divider and has lost its seal. Philadelphia, PA USA


I could put that to use.
-Lee, Burbank CA, USA


What a useful bento box! Great design.

-Bibliothecaria, Philadelphia, PA


I tend to like the stacked bentos so don’t have any single tray ones. There is something nice about the metal. More permanent somehow. Less ‘throw away culture’ (as much as I love my plastic bento boxes!). I’m in!

-kayla (UK)

Looks awesome

That box looks really cool. Happy anniversary.

Nick, Richmond Hill, Canada.

Happy Anniversary

Happy 1-year anniversary! That’d bento box would be nice for my dad…he’s just started taking his lunch to work, since all we have around the office is fast food….I’d probably end up packing it for him, but at least it’d be healthier and more filling that fast food.

That looks a lot nicer then

That looks a lot nicer then my “load and load” tuppaware type box….. me want!

MsDerious England

I had a really happy summer

I had a really happy summer in Japan too… as an American foreign exchange student. Met so many wonderful people, ate really great food, learned a new language, and lost probably 15 lbs. :)

Elaine VDW - Reno, NV USA

Sorry to hear your high

Sorry to hear your high school experience didn’t go so well. I can relate, even though I grew up at my school, my junior and senior years were pretty isolated for me, and I don’t look back on them very fondly.

-Nick, Texas

I love this box! I am

I love this box! I am looking into items like this for Boy Scout events where some of the ‘cute’ boxes may not be so practical or sturdy.

Eilish in NYS, USA

I like this one!

This looks like an awesome box for someone just starting out (like me!) because it’s sturdy and basic. I really like it! Thanks for the great site!

Emily USA

I like this one!

This looks like an awesome box for someone just starting out (like me!) because it’s sturdy and basic. I really like it! Thanks for the great site!

Emily USA

I like this one!

This looks like an awesome box for someone just starting out (like me!) because it’s sturdy and basic. I really like it! Thanks for the great site!

Emily USA


dear maki, thanks a lot for sharing with us these personal memories. i like your stories a lot. it’s been just really a very nice week! and i like a lot this bento box! i think i’ll buy it if i don’t win it. have a nice weekend! silvia france


It’s for ME!

From Anchorage, AK.

I could bury this in the snow & my bento would be totally yummy when it thawed out in the spring :-)

I like the simplicity of

I like the simplicity of this box.

-emi from CA, USA


What a lovely box!

Dani Raleigh, NC, USA

I’m so glad you got that

I’m so glad you got that summer to reconnect with your grandmother before your family came to the States permanently.

Thanks for everything you do, and happy anniversary!

Principia, USA

I got really fat when I

I got really fat when I moved to the states from Japan. I didn’t even realize it since I never weighed myself and then when my mom saw me at Narita, she was shocked! Those giant restaurant portions, processed foods, and no walking around will really do it.

Kathleen, Ecuador

Great metal bento box

With the recent plastic health scare it is only fitting to give this metal bento box away. I really want to win

Great metal bento box

With the recent plastic health scare it is only fitting to give this metal bento box away. I really want to win.

San Francisco, CA, USA

its perfect!

when my nephew starts going to preschool i want to make him bentos, but my mom is very paranoid about plastics and toxins and whatever, so this would be perfect!

rachael, USA

I’ve really enjoyed

I’ve really enjoyed reading your personal stories and hope that you will continue to post your lovely memories even though the anniversary event is over!

Aw I love your

Aw I love your stories.

Sayuri, Canada

These are such awesome

These are such awesome giveaways :) I’m so glad I found your blog.

I’m in Mountain View, CA.

Now this..

Really would be a good bento for a construction site, although I said the same thing about the miffy box :)

Steven, USA

nice one

I’ve had my eye on that bento box for a while now. Attractive and utilitarian.

JP - Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Nice bento box

I love the simplicity of the design!

Nan, USA

Ahh, japan! Laura, USA

Ahh, japan!

Laura, USA


My hubby would love this. It’s so simple and awesome.

  • Nicole, USA

I love the simplicity of

I love the simplicity of this box. I would use it every day.


This looks like such a wonderful bento box! Thanks for everything!

Denver, CO USA

Lovely stories

Thanks for sharing this week! -Liz, USA

everyone says they’re

everyone says they’re husband would love this box - mine too! but too bad! if i had a box like this, how could i not use it?

zoe, ontario canada

This looks so useful! Beth,

This looks so useful!

Beth, Poland.

That is a beautiful story.

That is a beautiful story. I’m glad you had that summer with your family. It’s amazing how food can bring back memories and connect us with the past.

Cat, California, USA

well if it's your favorite

then it must be great. I would love to try this baby out. Thanks for the contest.

Anna Queens, NY USA

Prize looks great, thanks

Prize looks great, thanks for the chance to win! Jessica, USA

I’d love another bento

I’d love another bento box.

Ryan, USA

That box looks awesome. A

That box looks awesome. A lot of bento boxes are too cutesy for a guy to take, but this one would look amazing with my brushed metal thermos along side of it. Chili in the thermos, crackers/chips and sides and a snack in the box, and I’d be good to go!

Dave from Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

food for thought!

Thank you so much for sharing you stories with us over this week of celebration ^_^ and I look forward to all you future posts!

Amanda from the UK

I always liked this one

Location: Hawaii

I’ve enjoyed this week of giveaways and Just Hungry history. I’m sorry you had so much upheaval at such a crucial time in your social development. You seem so together now, glad that’s mostly behind you.


Great job!

I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the past week! I’m so glad I subscribed to your blog!

Christina, NJ, USA

I don’t have any metal

I don’t have any metal bento boxes, but I really like that one. I have some boxes with dividers and some without, I like the variety.

Still in Philly. Not sure if that is good or bad.