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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I’ve enjoyed reading about your memories and past. Thanks for sharing them with us, and happy anniversary again! :)

siehyean Aberdeen, UK

Changes are so difficult..

Cultures might be different , countries, families are not the same.. changing is scary and we need quite a pinch of courage and strength for such. You went through some of those difficulties and now, you can write quite beautifully about them. I admire you. We can only learn good things about your experiences. Thanks for sharing with us.

karaimame, Finland

I really enjoyed the way you

I really enjoyed the way you wrote about the memories you chose to share with us. Thank you again!

Katharina, Austria


What an adorable container …. I love it. I enjoyed your family story very much. I remember being the American girl living in Japan …. so different back in the 1960’s.

Wonderful Giveaway!

I love this box! Thank you!

i am cheerios. seattle, wa

i am cheerios.

seattle, wa

Many more years to

Many more years to come!!


I’ve never had a bento

I’ve never had a bento before, and I just found your blog, but I recently discovered a recipe for onigiri that I’m dying to try out and bring to my friends at school. Whatever I pack in that bento must be healthier for me then my school’s food…

Carrie, Superior WI, United States

love the minimalist

while I will admit to collecting “cute” bentos for my girls, this is much more my style. Minimalist to the -enth degree.

Mortimer’s Mom, Montreal, Canada


Thanks for sharing your story. It makes me all nostalgic and I think of my oba-chan too.

From Singapore

my fav too

What a touching story, and I’m so glad you were able remember your oba-chan’s bentos to help you eat healthier.

I’d love that box for hubby. Why aren’t there that many nice things available in the US like that. All I can find are pink girlie boxes and supplies. Hello Japanese suppliers! I guess you don’t want my money! Oops, sorry, I get frustrated when I want to buy something, and it’s hard to find except for over-priced websites 8^)

Thanks for all the fun contests! Texas, US

That looks like a great

That looks like a great bento box.

Lis, Singapore

Bento box

Nice looking stainless steel bento box! I use Tupperware to make my boxed lunches, but I’d love to try something with compartments.

—Lisa, USA

Bento Box Giveaway

I’ve never owned a bento box. How exciting :)

Oakland, CA, USA

Wow, a stainless bento. I

Wow, a stainless bento. I don’t own one; is it easy to take care of? Location: USA

High school = hell on earth.

High school = hell on earth. L.I.=hell.


Nevada, U.S.

I’m sorry your move in

I’m sorry your move in high school was so bad.

A-Wo Japan

Love the stainless

Just beautiful — thanks again for all the great content and nifty give-aways!

bpod @USA

Thank you for coming up with

Thank you for coming up with Just Bento. I have learned so much from this blog. My Picky Eater is now looking forward to what’s in her bento everytime. I’m so glad to have discovered the Bento and even happier to have a Blog like Just Bento to guide me through. =)

Have a good weekend!

SanMelMama of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.

Love it!

What an awesome bento box!

Vicki from San Marcos CA


Those stainless steel bentos are really big compared to my 450ml two teir bento im interested in buying a one teir round because i like them better than two teir at but they are clossed for matinense till tomorrow.Sorry if I spelt matinenece wrong im only 12.

Sounds great :) Ben, UK.

Sounds great :)

Ben, UK.

short stories

I really love your stories… it’s sound always a little bit melancholic :)

Mils -USA

Miami, FL (USA)

You’re offering some great items on your GiveAway! I’ve been looking for a stainless steel bento box recently! Thanks for doing this.

Metal FTW

I love metal bento boxes, and a friend of mine would be overjoyed if I ever got her something like this for a present.

Casey, Kentucky, USA


That looks like a nice little bento box! I’m so sad to hear about your tough move…nobody should have to go through that, but I’m glad you’re doing well now. Congratulations on your anniversary!


I’m so glad you got to

I’m so glad you got to spend that summer with your grandmother. I’m dealing with aging grandparents now, it can be very hard to get along with them.

Cmtigger from California

Thanks for sharing all your

Thanks for sharing all your memories with us. I love hearing the stories behind your ideas and suggestions :o)

Dallas, TX, USA

yay, stainless!

This would be perfect for my mom, if I won. :) Thanks for the contest, and the wonderful stories. Emiko (USA)


Oh I like this one very much, it has a more grown-up feel to it! I love your blog!

Red from Burbank, California USA

i have really been enjoying

i have really been enjoying your stories! :)

Rachel, USA


Sydney, Australia. B-)

USA! always wanted a bento

USA! always wanted a bento box. i could probably use one up here in college


Maki..How nice to know that there are comforting things which are birthed into our lives sometimes thru pain..Anyway I am certainly glad you started this Blog…… The BENTO BOX is really nice !!!! Sakiblu, New Jersey, USA

Lucky to love your grandma...

Maybe someday my grandma and I will reconcile… Maybe someday when she makes umeboshi… Maybe someday when pigs fly…

— Kips, USA

My brother would like that

My brother would like that one :3 He wants one too, but he didn’t want to spend money on it. (He’s saving all he can for a car XD)

Good luck everyone! <33

asuri Delaware, USA

Happy Anniversary!!

Thanks for a very informative blog! Keep up the great work :)

Tanya - USA 94568

I’ve really liked the

I’ve really liked the stories this week. Thanks for sharing them.

And, of course, for the potential for free stuff. Pick me! ;)

Midknyt South Korea


That looks really cool…and durable too!

Jup Thailand

No Frills Box

I’m loving this box…it’s so simple and beautiful.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed in hopes of winning: I’m a broke student that would very much enjoy a useful present such as this one!

Wren from CT, USA

Bento Box

My tiny (5 member) quiting group was somewhat surprised when I arrived at a meeting with my lunch in a Mr. Bento. My refrigerator contents are nothing like theirs — mine filled with jars and jars of unusual condiments useful for Thai, Hawai’ian, and other Pacific Rim cooking. Nevertheless, I drink green tea at lunch (enjoying Genmai, which took me several vacations on Kaua’i to discover the name of the tea served with my Donburi in a beloved restaurant). Should I win this beautiful, well-designed steel bento box, it will be a prized possession. Thank you for all the bento ideas. I am a convert. Sylvia Nevada, USA

Aw, what a touching story! I

Aw, what a touching story! I loved this week.

And oh my, I’ve always wanted a stainless steel boxes, but I simply can’t afford the Japanese transfer shipping service. I hope I win!

Colin, United States.

I love how this box has a

I love how this box has a feel that is both retro and modern. What great give-aways. Thanks for sharing your stories and recipes.

Julia New York, NY

Soy Sauce Eggs

Thanks for giving the method for the soy sauce eggs the other day. I googled like crazy and only found your reference to them.

I think that’s a great way to eat hard-boiled eggs!

That was a good story.

That was a good story. Stress eating is so stressful. The bento box looks really good - a silicon seal, too!

Nettles, Canada.

Nostalgic Bento Box

Thanks again for sharing your stories with us. Looking forward to another year’s worth of inspiring bento recipes and ideas!

Miyuki, Canada

P.S. Actually, it’s not just your writing that’s inspiring. The site itself is an inspiration for those of us scratching our heads over how Drupal works… ^_^;

Good stories all week

Thanks for this whole week of giveaways. This bento looks cute and quite different!
It’s been great trying your recipes, but I also enjoy reading about your past experiences and life stories. Thanks again for sharing! Wakkun, USA

Not Military!

Aside from the clean lines, there is something about the aluminum structure that makes me think of military construction; that no-nonsense utilitarian look. But with that said, I would love this! I’m in D.C. and this would be so fun to show off to my friends.

I have really loved all

I have really loved all these stories - it’s weird out food can be the thing memories hinge around, isn’t it? It’s been making me remember the lunches my mother always packed - in those clear plastic lunch containers with the compartments. Always a sandwich on homemade wholegrain bread, and a vegetable, fruit, and piece of cheese - and then in the littlest compartment a fourth of a cup of bright-orange Cheetos. My mother understood the meaning of “okay in moderation” :)

purpleshoes, USA

so good for the boy

great story!

n0okii, melbourne australia