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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Too Cool!

I’ve been looking for metal bento boxes. Almost impossible to find in the states. Thanks, Maki!

San Antonio, TX

I like it. I only have 1

I like it. I only have 1 bento box, and this one would be perfect for my youngest son. The other 2 are bigger and need bigger bentos. Ah, growth spurts…. lol!

Location: PA, USA


I started getting into japanese food lately and just bento is just what i needed. healthy and a nice “Abwechselung” from german cafeteria food!a bento box would make it all even better…


What a cool bento box! I love the clean, modern lines and minimalist feel.

Chine, Beijing, China


It has been so much fun reading about your memories! I have been waiting to enter a bento giveaway, since I don’t want to win something that I won’t really use. Well here it is!!! I’m living in Belgium, for a few years, and the bento supplies are few and far between here, so this would be a wonderful beginning! ~~A

Hmm is metal bento box

Hmm is metal bento box better than plastic? I guess it wouldn’t retain the smells from any strongly flavoured foods… which would definitely be a good thing! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading about your reminiscing and memories and it’s a little sad to see it stop but I’m also looking forward to the regular bento posts again! ^_^

Annabel - Bern, Switzerland

That’s pretty nifty

That’s pretty nifty looking - I’m trying to be a lot better about packing and taking my lunch, and I find that nice looking containers make me much happier than bland tupperware/gladware ones!

Laura, USA


I remember when we moved from a city to the country. I really hated it. Like you, I found that everyone had known each other for years.

Tirwen, USA

A pleasure reading your site in the eveings

The bento box looks great in your pics! himara-sri lanka


This bento box is very snazzy !! Happy Aniversary Lisa USA

I love this. I want this.

I love this. I want this. May have to buy this regardless!
Brook, North Carolina, USA

Nice bento!

I really like this one!

Kim, TN, USA

Country: USA

Country: USA

it's hard to be new

I often moved and had to change schools and I would have similar experiences to you. It always seemed like people in school had known each other their entire lives, no matter what school I ended up at. At least your last summer in Japan was a happy one!

And send that new box my way. bonbon, usa


I have, sadly, just Mr. Bento and need to scale back. This would be a perfect box for that transition for just the reason you cite.

Congrats again!

congrats on your one year

congrats on your one year anniversary! I’ve been enjoying this blog for a while and it definitely has put me into this constant bento lunch lifestyle. Also some very strong obsession with bento boxes. hahaha. This stainless steel bento box is one of many that I have in my wishlist. =) Also, I always enjoy reading your anecdotes but this one is especially touching probably because I had almost the same experience and same issues. Like you mentioned at the end of the post I am recovering my health with healthy bento lunches everyday and I want to thank you for that.

Arumi from US

wow. looks cool! kat canada

wow. looks cool! kat canada

Happy anniversary! What a

Happy anniversary! What a cute bento and nice story. :)

-Katie, ND, USA


Congratulations on your anniversary! I absolutely adore your blog and only wish you the best for Just Hungry & Just Bento for the coming years ahead!

I know I missed the deadline for all the giveaways this week, but I wanted to send a congrats note anyway. Thanks for sharing your personal stories and delicious recipes :).

chicky*bits, New York City

Thank you for your stories this week

and for all the great blog entries over the years. I’ll keep reading (and, of course, hoping I win one of the lovely giveaways!)

Kathy in Santa Barbara, CA

I can’t imagine what a

I can’t imagine what a move like that would be like. (I’ve lived the whole of my life in 3 states, all of which touch on one border or another.)

Holly New York (USA)

Awesome Bento Box

This box is perfect for my husband who refuses to take any of my bento boxes because they are too girly - despite the fact that none of them have any characters on them!

Happy Anniversary Again!

Country: U.S.

Oh my!

that story almost made me cry! But I’m really glad you were able to spend time with you’re grandmother.

I adore those metal bentos, I know you can’t put them in the microwave but there is something so simple and rustic about them that don’t say “hey I’m a cute bento box, you should spend hours making cute food to put inside me that only takes you 10 minutes to eat”

Alisha of Michigan United States

Happy 1st year, Just Bento!!

Happy birthday! And thanks for all the recipies, tips, anecdotes — and the time and effort you put into the site!

I was moved by your story of moving accross the globe at a young age. I too, moved around a lot as a kid. I lived abroad for a year, but mostly we moved around in the SF Bay Area. As an adult I moved from the West Coast of the US (where I grew up) to the East Coast. Moving from one coast to another was, In some ways, just as much of a culture shock as when I lived in Germany for a year as a child.

Nice to hear your grandmother story, too. The grand parent relationship can be very special and unique ~ and it also provides a kind of tangeble link to the past.


Philadelphia, PA

bento day 5

I have only just learned about bento box lunches about the end of August 08. I have returned to college and the concept was suggested to me. I love every element of the process, and have had so many in my class ask about the lunches. Presently I use some simple plastic containers, but they do the job. I love your site, and hope it continues for you …and me…for a long time. Thank you.

Thank you for sharing your

Thank you for sharing your memories!

-Cheryce: U.S. (Oregon)


This looks very male friendly. (^^ ) I’d love to pack food for my boyfriend with this. <3

Mary, UK


It isn’t easy to find medium-sized bento boxes, and this one is very classy looking.

Carla, England

This would be neat to have

This would be neat to have and would help me to keep eating healthy foods and amounts!

Jaimie Florida, USA

food and life

thanks for sharing the story. it’s wonderful how you’ve woven the threads of your life into this generous, interesting and creative tapestry.

that is a pretty box =DD all

that is a pretty box =DD all i have are a few plastic boxes ^^’ they carry food and that’s what matters the most :p

Ana, Portugal


That looks like a fantastic bento box.

Yakima, Washington USA

so cute!

I love your blog! congrats on all your accomplishments.

I've been looking everywhere for one of these!


Cathy Los Angeles, CA

Great bento box!

I would really like a metal bento box. All of mine are plastic.

I love it!

This would definitely be a great present to myself and would encourage me to make bento more often!

June USA

emotional eating

I feel your pain - I moved at age 15 from the US to Italy, and did the same thing - but bentos are also helping to get rid of it!

Erin, USA

That is a nice box

Melissa Anderson WI, USA

Just Bento

I started making bentos for my 17 year old daughter and she loves discovering everyday new food and a new way to eat lunch. I’m constantly checking your site for new things to try. I just bought some Mirin and Ponza for the first time and am excited to try some of your recipes that call for these items. Thanks so much for this site. I love it whether I win or not!

Julieone in the USA (TX)

An Amazing Celebration

What a week! And the giveways have been awesome. Nice way to celebrate, work well done.

Dalyn - Maryland, USA

Happy Anniversary!

My husband would love this! I keep sending him to work with my cute ones - all except the pink! Thanks! Sara, United States

Nice Bento Box

I have really enjoyed reading through your memories and experiences, thank you for sharing and also for providing us with the opportunity to win some of your favorite tried and true bento items!

Alisha, Minnesota, US. :)

I can’t imagine having to

I can’t imagine having to move to another country during high school. It was hard enough moving from one state to another. =( I’ve really enjoyed all the anniversary posts, thanks for sharing your memories!

Stephanie, WI, USA

Thanks for the memories! ;)

Thanks for sharing all your stories with us this week! It really makes your blog so much more personal.

This is such a great bento box - like many others have said also, this would be great for my husband who doesn’t share my love of cute character boxes. :)

Glenda in Ottawa, Canada

YAY! Green Bento!! We got

YAY! Green Bento!! We got rid of quite alot of our bentos, as we try to move towards a greener home with less plastic. How perfect! I love them! I love making bentos, my children and lover do so much appreciate the cute little animals and artistic food they get every day on their journey through life. How very generous of you! I do very much adore your website! It’s in my google reader, thank you for all the wonderful tips and ideas!

^..^< In gassho, love and light, Amajean Reeves Denver, CO United States -

=) love all the memories

=) love all the memories you’ve so generously shared with us - it gives us such insight into who you are as a blogger (and as a person) Sydney, Australia

looks good

that bento box looks good

Mr Ibrahim, Manchester, UK

So much to try, so little time

I’m interested in that box and I’m curious. Someone was very kind and bought my unit at work a toaster oven. I was wondering if it can be used in the oven or toaster oven.


Really cool bento box God bless our troops

Nice box!

I’ve never used a metal bento box but I’d love to give it a try - if I don’t win I may just have to buy one…

(Location: Philly, PA, USA)