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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Super cool box! I love it. I

Super cool box! I love it. I think I just find it new and exciting compared to all my [slightly childish] cute bento boxes.. heh.

I love this blog!!!!!!!!!


Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA

I really need something like

I really need something like this to get the boyfriend into bento. Right now he’s not sure…and lazy. ;)

That bento looks so cool. I

That bento looks so cool. I haven’t seen one like that before.

Location: VT, USA


Love it! My DH was just asking me for a sturdy metal bento with latches! I am in Maryland, USA.


love your little recipes that can be mixed and matched to fit whatever ingredients i have at hand. i’ve been packing lunch to work ever since i found your blog… and i even went to kinokuniya to get japanese bento books, it’s been so fun deciphering all the katakana with my 1-semester-worth of japanese knowledge.. haha

and yes, can i be the lucky one with the bento box please???

p.s. i’ve learnt to eat cold rice, so a non-microwavable bento box works just fine ;)


Would love to win this.

Would love to win this. Keep up the great posts!

Evan New York, USA

Nice Minimalistic Bento

Thanks for doing this giveaway!!

Lafayette, IN, USA

I’m sorry to hear about

I’m sorry to hear about your sad memories. I know what it’s like to transfer to a school where everyone except you grew up together there. My problems made me put on a lot of weight too, and I’m only now trying to lose it. It was while looking for ways to make lunch interesting while on a diet that I discovered bento.

Name: Amanda Location: Florida, United States

I can identify with your hgh school experience

I have so enjoyed your stories. As a military brat, who ended up in a civilian high school for the first time in 11th grade, I can identify with the not fitting in part. There are probably more of us that did not fit in than those that did.

sjt in tx

Hello from the USA. Thank

Hello from the USA. Thank you for for sharing your story. I’m touched that you shared it with all of us.

I can’t tell you how much

I can’t tell you how much this would improve my lunches!

C.J. Twin Cities, MN, USA

whoa shiny

i like shiny things…stainless steel is pretty great. i have a similar bento box, but it’s regular old plastic.

alex, IL, USA

Nice memory!

That is a really neat memory, and it’s wonderful you were able to spend that time with your family.

Jen, U.S.A.

What a great history to go along with this bento

This is a great looking bento. I love the sleekness of it. I will have to watch out as my 13 year old daughter may try and snag this from me should I win this.

Thanks for sharing your memories and your momentos.

Fantastic bento box

I love this box! I’m just getting started in making bentos - I tried one at a sushi restaurant (for dinner! I didn’t realize they were typically eaten at lunch) and was hooked. A local folk school actually offered a bento class last weekend and I was thrilled to take it, but the instructor had to leave town unexpectedly. I just found your website today, trying to do some research on my own for recipes (I have a beautiful daikon that I’d like to pickle). Anyway, thanks for the great site! And for your generosity with these giveaways =]

Joli, USA

nice lunch box :) Jessi USA

nice lunch box :) Jessi USA

When I was little I used to

When I was little I used to cry on the plane when I left my grandparents’ house, but that was never as final as your plane ride was.

Also, that is a very nice bento box.

Julia, US

Moving is bad

Awh, that’s very sad - moving is terrible, especially in your school years. Being the new kid is never, ever fun.

congrats again!

i hope u continue to have more anniversaries in the future.

Steph, United States


I like I like I likkeeee!!!!!!

Miss Tiffie MA, USA

Thank you!

What a great story and a generous giveaway. I appreciate it!

Eva (USA)

name: scottie country:

name: scottie country: canada eeh, your summer with your obachan must’ve been memorable! i get that sometimes: the SUPER nostalgia wave crashing in. it makes me happy, yet sad at the same time! great blogs maki! hope i’ll see them for a loong time :). and that bento box is nice! simple, and not too childish!

Good job

Even though it is very hard to find odd Japanese ingredients here in Sweden, your recipes have been very helpful. Thanks, and good job.


Pretty bento box.

Pretty bento box. Thanks!

Beachcomber, USA


It really is the perfect size and looks so polished and cute to use!

Cindy united states love

Cindy united states love this bento box!!!

Minimalist bento box--cool!

I would love to receive this box. Happy Anniversary!

Jennifer Hansen Kodiak, Alaska, USA

I love it! Kei, Paris,

I love it! Kei, Paris, France

This one is so nice!

You are having such a great contest :-)



Win CA, USA My brother and


My brother and I had the same one until they went missing during our move two years ago.

Metal bento box

Maki, thanks a lot for your give-aways. It’s such fun to read your stories…

Romana, Germany

oh no! not the end of the

oh no! not the end of the stories already! thank you maki for this special 5 days, and again, happy anniversary. we love Just bento, keep it up! mook, Bordeaux, France

Metal bento box

Simpel and minimalistic bento box. My son would love to have this one.

Sofie, Germany

Comfort eating!

I feel so sorry for your teenage self (hey you were my age :] ), moving has always been such an alien concept to me, as I’ve been stuck in Poland ever since I was born, so yeah. Eeeep, that’s some hardcore comfort eating, but perfectly understandable, I was doing the same about 3 years ago when the parental units were going through a divorce.

Thank you for this week, it’s somehow heartwarming to be given a glimpse of someone’s memories ^_^

11, from Poland

Ooh looks nice, goes well

Ooh looks nice, goes well with a metal thermos :) -Chrisyx, Finland

I really wanted this one

I really wanted this one ever since you started posting with it! elizabeth, france

This is great

I can’t believe how many people are thinking the same thing as me - this would be great for my husband, who’s been needing a ‘manly’ bento box to replace the old, broken plastic one I keep making him take to work!

I love these blogs; I have never tried a recipe from here that didn’t work out great. Thanks for all the hard work.

Huzzah for Stainless Steel

One of the things that was a bane for my mother was making hot foods for our lunches, and then having to let them cool because putting them into plastic containers would warp them or leach toxic plastics into our lunches. She eventually got some cheap stainless steel ones but they didn’t have a seal and unless it was ‘dry’ foods like fried-rice, we didn’t use them since they leaked all over our books and stuff which definitely wasn’t pleasant.

^_^ Don from Sydney, Australia

If I won this, I COULD pack

If I won this, I COULD pack my husband’s lunch in it, but I just don’t know if I could part with it!

Happy Anniversary!

Looks sturdy and well made.

Looks sturdy and well made. Any way, congrats on your anniversary!

Chely from Puerto Rico

Cool Looking Box

This looks like a great bento box - Niki; Lansing, MI - USA

Thanks Niki

Day 5


Lovin’ the stories! And winning something would be nice too.

Kim in Ogaki, Gifu, Japan

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary!

Katchen, UK

Thank you!

Thank you so much for sharing your stories with us. I have really enjoyed reading them!!! Here’s to another great year of Just Bento!

Valerie, Sweden/USA

This is a very nice

This is a very nice bentobox, much better than the box from tupperware I’m using now.


I’m very happy you were so

I’m very happy you were so inspired to write this blog! You’ve inspired me, too!

Cheryl, Germany

That was again very heart

That was again very heart warming :-) Basak-NL

what a touching life story :)

hey maki :D it’s chubby-chan, but this time i’m not entering the draw for the bento box giveaway. i only have a comment to make.

your life story is so touching..your aunt and your oba-chan were so caring and i’m glad, too, that you spent a nice summer with your oba-chan before she passed away. i hate that in some movies or dramas, important people in your life pass away after a quarrel or while you are on bad terms with them. it’s too sad T^T

thanks for sharing so many of your stories with us..i hope there’s heaps more to come :D


Your sites are the most interesting I have found on food. Thank you for sharing your stories and talents. Linda, USA

Thank you so much for

Thank you so much for sharing your memories with us. It makes the blog so much more personal.
Torie France