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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That’s beautiful, I’d

That’s beautiful, I’d love to win it! Claire (USA)-

that is my favorite bento

that is my favorite bento box. I love how it looks damaris- USA


This bento box is so wonderfully cute! I can just imagine it with hello kitty magnets slapped on the top!


(location: US) Thanks for sharing such a personal story with us, Maki!

I never tried a metal bento

I never tried a metal bento box, but it looks very useful.

Thank you very much for sharing your stories with us. They were very interesting to read.

Ina (from Germany)


Happy Anniversary! (Country USA)


Love this bento box!

-Tara from South San Francisco, CA, USA

Your story on growing up

Your story on growing up really related to me because I also believe that taking a look at what you’re packing via a bento is really helpful. I have been able to portion better. Please keep up the great work! That bento looks really professional too, btw.


Happy anniversary! From the

Happy anniversary!

From the USA~

OOOOO….if I win anything I

OOOOO….if I win anything I want it to be this one! It’s the perfect size for me and would be my first “real” bento box. Happy Anniversary, by the way. I’m a big fan of your bento blog. tired in Canada

Ooo… shiny… Nathan, MA,

Ooo… shiny… Nathan, MA, US

What a lovely box!

Functional and attractive.

Thanks for keeping this blog - it is a huge inspiration for me! Abby Baltimore, MD, USA

Great bento box. I have

Great bento box. I have resolved to make myself bentos at least a few times a week from now on. Thanks for the support.

Jane in Japan

Thanks for Special Week!

I’ve enjoyed your blog, perspectives, and sharing this week. That stainless steel bento is a terrific way to wrap things up. It really has modernist appeal! Thanks again.

Sharon in the United States

Stainless steel bentos looks

Stainless steel bentos looks so sleek and refined; packing this one would be great for my mother, who’s always afraid of chemicals leaching from plastic onto food.

It’s been nice reading about all your memories.

April, the United States.

enter me please

I love hearing the stories of how people started their blogs. My name is beastmomma and I am commenting from the United States in Seattle, WA.

I can understand your

I can understand your teenage weight gain, Maki, I was in high school when I gained a lot of weight, too, due to depression and meds. But, we’re both happier and healthier, now, aren’t we?

Again, happy blogiversary and here’s to hoping to many more in the future!

Lorena, USA

shiny ^_^

I’ve loved reading the stories of your memories! Happy Anniversary and keep up the great sites.

Smiles from Texas


Reminds me of camping when I was a kid!


Hollywood, USA

I’ve really loved hearing

I’ve really loved hearing your stories and reminicences,both here and over at Just Hungry. Thanks so much for sharing!

Bronwyn (USA, MA)

Love that box.

very clean and minimal.

Allen USA

I'm sorry to see the week end

Not just because, boy do I want that bento box, but because I’ve enjoyed reading your memories. Lovely.

Harper Denver Colorado USA

Happy anniversary!

What a beautiful steal box. Although I really like the typical cute bento boxes every once in a while I have been looking for a plainer design for using on a daily base. I’d be delighted to win it :) Last but not least, thank you for this wonderful christmasy week of celebration!

bee from switzerland


So classy, just like adult bentos should be!

Jessica, Buffalo NY

classy bento box

This is nice and classy…


Aww, sorry to hear that your

Aww, sorry to hear that your last year in high school was such a bummer. I had to transfer in the middle of high school myself,and it royally stunk. But at least you had a great summer with your relatives before you left.

Samantha from New Hampshire, USA

new blog fan

found your site via google reader, which is handy but then I miss out on the nice layouts and ambiance, and sometimes the pix…but wondered if might ask - have you ever shared tips for making croquettes, the Japanese potato kind??? Do those have to be deep fried?! thanks!

I'm so hungry!

Happy anniversary - both of your blogs get me hungry, but “just bento” always also brings me back to my “small kid” days in Hawaii.

XD So minimalistic.

Name: J Location: U.S.

Great Stories All Week!

I really like the metal!

Matt, USA


I just recently started eating bentos instead of the food at my college (which was making me gain wight). Also this would help a lot since I don’t have many containers that I can use for bentos (most of mine leak).

Jake, USA

Cool Metal

So many nice bento boxes, so little time

Sara, Ontario Canada

That looks like a great bento box

I left both of my bento boxes in Japan when I moved back to the US, and I’ve been kicking myself ever since. I love this blog.

John in Maryland, USA

This is really nice and sleek

This is very nice and I can see how it can be so useful in so many ways.. and yes, a great present for oneself..

It has been a fantastic and exciting week, waking up ea morning looking forward to see what you are giving away and walking down that memory lane with you !

Jj_an, Shanghai, China


I always want to get one of those. Currently my bento boxes is all plastic…. hehe


o yea, i forgot to add in , NYC

Nice bento box!

This would be perfect to take lunch to work in a very neat and stylish way! I wish I had one! Cel, Canada

Michael from NY, USA

Michael from NY, USA

awesome box

But as I don’t have a bento box any box is awesome right now.


Oh my goodness, this looks

Oh my goodness, this looks like the most perfect bento box!

Stacy Oregon, USA

I’ve never had an actual

I’ve never had an actual bento box before, and this one looks so good!!

Minh, USA

I really loved all the stories...

They where great, txs for sharing them all!! Vanessa (Dominican Republic)

I really appreciate

I really appreciate everything you post here. I’ve learned a lot about bento. Thank you.

Riot United States

Maybe it is selfish, but I

Maybe it is selfish, but I would love to be able to bring lunch for myself to the hospital in this snazzy box!

Oooh, I want this one! LOVE

Oooh, I want this one! LOVE stainless bentos! Ann in Canada

i’ve got a 3-tiered

i’ve got a 3-tiered stainless steel bento and used to have one like this. i don’t know where it is anymore, and would love to have another.

los angeles, ca, usa

so simple. i love it.

so simple. i love it.

i’m away from home right

i’m away from home right now, so reading your post did bring back lots of memories. i used to commute during my college days but contrary to yours, my journey weren’t pleasant. but it was until i had to relocate that i realised there is no place like home, one hour of train was nothing compared to hours in a plane.

i work harder in the morning so i can savour my home cooked lunch guiltlessly. and you’re giving away a stainless steel box! no more food stains that won’t wash off no matter how hard i try!


Metal awesomeness!

This looks awesome. I hope I win!

  • Alex, USA

awww this is a perfect

awww this is a perfect husband type of bento!

morbo (usa)