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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Eeeek! I LOVE metal boxes.

Eeeek! I LOVE metal boxes.

I am so honored that you shared your story of your last summer in Japan. Really moving.

Lily in Las Vegas, NV, U.S.

This giveaway idea is terrific...

Kalee US

What a great story!

That was really touching!

Kelcey, USA

Yay! Stainless steal

Yay! Stainless steal supposedly doesn’t rust either =D mm and although I have a large appetite, it’d be good for me to eat less… x.x =X likes food a bit much Ayla USA (CA)

I’m glad you made this

I’m glad you made this blog. You are right about it being comforting to know that you have a small box of healthy food waiting for you at lunchtime - I don’t get to make bento every day but love lunchtimes on the days that I do. From Anna in Wellington, New Zealand.

A bento box to take to work!

This would be perfect


What a lovely bento box.

Thank you so much for everything.

Jaime, US


just what i’ve been looking for! what wonderful prizes.

Caitlin in Canada’s dad

Caitlin in Canada’s dad would love this bento box. :D

United States, Illinois,

United States, Illinois, Evanston

Thank goodness high school

Thank goodness high school is long over for me too! I’ve never understood those people who view those days with so much nostalgia….

Becky in the USA

Another great story!

And what a lovely bento box! This has been such a fun week on your blog - I hope you continue sharing some of your stories with us. Kris, USA

Congratulations again on

Congratulations again on your anniversary. These giveaways are such a good idea.

Marita, USA

It’s been super fun,

It’s been super fun, commenting for prizes. What a great idea for an anniversary.

Thanks for another nostalgic story. It’s too bad that you hated high school in the states. I have a friend who moved from upstate NY to Long Island after her mother remarried and she hated even that relatively short-distance adjustment. I can’t help but think if you had started school in Queens or any of the New York City high schools, your experience might have been different. In the boroughs, everyone was quite used to new people.


This box is AWESOME!

AJ, Arkansas, USA


What a snazzy looking bento! It sort of looks like a big sardine can, but (hopefully) with tastier stuff inside. :)

Happy Anniversary

That looks like a perfect little bento box. I wish we could find boxes like that in the US!

Argentee - USA

I had a rough time in school

I had a rough time in school too :( . I am glad you have fond memories to look back on though :).

Amanda, Ontario Canada


I said this yesterday, but thank you so much for sharing your stories with us. Your blog is quite inspirational and it’s started me making bentos also! I love that your blog makes bentos accessible to those of us who really don’t know a lot about Japanese food ingredients and techniques. I’ve tried a lot of different things since I started trying to make bentos. I’ve even gotten my extremely fussy boyfriend to eat potato salad, carrots and beans!

Thanks so much

Arsozah of Australia

Happy Anniveraries!

Thank you so much for your wonderful stories this week.. I’ve enjoyed reading them very much, and appreciate the effort and time you put into them, to make them so honest and wonderful.

Erika Michigan, USA

This would make a great first bento!

Ever since I found this blog, I’ve been pining for a nice bento box, and this would be a great first one (:

Zeo from Budapest, Hungary

Shannon in the U.S.A.!

Shannon in the U.S.A.!

What a lovely, bittersweet

What a lovely, bittersweet memory about your oba-chan. Thank you for sharing and for all the giveaways, too. :-)

Ivy, United Kingdom


I think this is the first stainless steel box I’ve really liked.

Still in Denver, Colorado, USA

Bento Box!

Ooo, looks like a wonderful bento box!



I think this is the first stainless steel box I’ve really liked.

Still in Denver, Colorado, USA

Cute box

Thanks for sharing your stories with us and thanks for doing the cool giveaways!

Jencat - USA

Nice and utilitarian… I

Nice and utilitarian… I like it.

Danielle, USA

Thank you

What a lovely story. :)

-Zora, United States

Yes, plz!

This would be awesome! I have a thing for stainless steal and I’m all about it!

::fingers crossed::

Lindsey Lu from Long Beach, CA, USA.

That story reminds me of the

That story reminds me of the month I spent at my grandparents’ house the year we moved to Kirkland, WA from Olympia, WA. (Nothing like Japan to New York, of course, but still too far to really drive!) I stayed behind to finish up my synchronized swimming practice. My cousins also came to visit halfway through. It was wonderful. :)

That bento box is one I have been lusting after forever!

(Dina, Australia)

So cool!

I like this one too.

Naomi, Idaho Falls, ID, USA

My first Bento

This looks like the one and only bento box I would need. :)

More recipes please! Great blog.


Great looking box and sorry to hear about your rough high school year, high school wasn’t exactly hot for me either, so I can sympathize somewhat

Brett, USA

How cool is that!

Love this stainless steel bento book - very slick indeed! Thank you for such a generous gift… Natalie, Canada

Stainless Bento

This bento box looks like a beautiful, shiny new mess kit! You ought to have posted this one with your Day 4 story about camping!

Emily. Rhode Island. USA

Metal lunchbox love!


I have a thing for metal things: given the choice of materials, I always go for metal, glass, wood then plastic.

Happy Anniversary!

This box would be absolutely perfect for my husband! I love it! Lac’Nala - USA

Thank you!

Thanks for giving away so many fun items this week! And thank you for sharing some personal stories too.

Andrea in Berlin, Germany

The box is so pretty~~ I

The box is so pretty~~ I always wanted a box like this (but couldn’t afford them!!) Good luck everyone!!

-Caito from USA

I have really enjoyed reading your stories here on just bento!

Thank you for them, and also for the giveaways!


Country: USA, NJ

Thank you, maki, for sharing

Thank you, maki, for sharing something so personal with us. I’m amazed at your courage.

California, U.S.

I’m sorry for posting

I’m sorry for posting twice, but I just had to ask.

Do you happen to know how to make umeboshi? If I eat too much of my store-bought ones in a short period of time, my teeth start aching, so I was wondering if I could remedy that by trying to make my own. And I love umeboshi too much to stay away from it altogether =]

Thank you for the giveaway,

Thank you for the giveaway, Maki - I’d love to win this :)

Cathy Los Angeles

very nice!

what a nice story. so nice to have fond memories of loved ones. reminds me of spending time with my grandma. :)

love it!

Tiffany, USA

I enjoyed all your posts

I enjoyed all your posts this week. I learned a lot about you and all your moves and travels. I wish I had that summer with my grandmother before she passed. - Mary, California, USA

I love the very durable look

I love the very durable look of this box!

Name: Ally Country: UK (London)

Give Away

^ ^ I’ve really enjoyed your stories this past week. Thanks so much for sharing!

Name: Tyra Country: United States

What a touching and openly

What a touching and openly honest story!

Avlor South Dakota, USA