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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Metal would be new for me, too

I just love reading your stories. Thank you for sharing!

Pocono Mountains, USA

Ah, it must have been so

Ah, it must have been so hard moving in the middle of high school. Especially if everyone else seems to have known each other since nursery school. I had that happen to me, where the conversations would go:

Girl A: “Can you believe Joe Strauss and Mindy Katzenstein are going out?” Girl B: “No way!” Me: “Who’s Joe Strauss? Who’s Mindy Katzenstein?” Girl A: “Hey, remember that time in first grade when the teacher called on Joe…?” Girl B: “Yeah, the Valentine’s Day Confession!” Me: “Who’s Joe Strauss? Who’s Mindy Katzenstein? What’s the Valentine’s Day Confession?” Girl A: “Haha, that was great!” Girl B: “Poor Mindy!” Me: “….” (gave up trying to follow along)

Katherine, USA


Your bento ideas are always great, and I like your easy instructions and your tips on how to save time — it makes the idea of making the bentos much less daunting (thus making it more likely I’ll make something)! Thank you!

Linda (USA)


Thank you for all these pretty nice stories about your past.I really appreciate! Patrizia Italy

perfect for my husband

Oh, wow! This would be ideal for my husband!! Thanks Maki!! Erika, USA

Great Stories

I’m sad this is the last installment, I really liked hearing about your childhood. I hope you’ll tell us more stories in the future. I have always liked hearing about how other people were raised it’s always so different from my experiances. :)

Kate Hawaii (Kauai), USA

pretty box~

thanks for sharing all your stories!

name: joyce

country: USA

ooo - please enter me in the

ooo - please enter me in the draw! I would love one of these!

JJ in Canada


very industrial, i like it -sara, maryland, usa

Oh wow!

That would be amazing! The closest thing I’ve found is a glass Pyrex dish that holds too much…but this would be perfect! Thank you for offering this! :)

Country - USA

Happy anniversary! Hope

Happy anniversary! Hope you’re eating lots of cake! ^_^

Angel P, from Australia

Loved your stories. Love

Loved your stories. Love the site.

Sean Nevada, United States

I can't find this anywhere in Melbourne, Australia!

Melbourne has limited Bento supplies, in fact, none i think! I have been looking around for stainless steel bentos. Thank you very much!!

Elaine, Australia

I'm an asian in Long Island

New York, USA.

I moved here from Hong Kong and went to school in Long Island, and yeah they’re a bunch of self centered people like you wouldn’t believe so I can relate. It sucks and I’m glad that’s over.

Anyway, I would love to have a new bento box!

It’s been really great to

It’s been really great to hear more about you!

Kristen, USA

Oh wow, this is sooo cool! I

Oh wow, this is sooo cool! I love it! Thank you for being so generous! And happy anniversary again:)

Jasmine Location: United States

I love it!

This is a great box and would inspire me to make bento for myself more often, using some of your wonderful recipes. Thank you for sharing your ideas with us!

June from Chicago, Illinois USA

Soy sauce eggs would look great in there

and so would spam musubi!

How lovely

It reminds me of a big sardine tin :)

  • Portland, OR

Oh wow this bento box

Oh wow this bento box strangely reminds me of the tiffin boxes my grandma used to fill for outings!

Ami/ California, USA

Would love to win this! I am

Would love to win this! I am from Seattle, and would like to start making bento lunches.

Greetings from Zurich

Dear Maki,

I found Just Hungry looking for information for Schwarzenbach arounda year ago, and I’ve been reading your stories ever since. I discovered Just Bento only yesterday, and I’m fascinated! I love Japanese cuisine (I’m Greek myself) and I’d be so happy to take my bento with me at work (I’m dreaming about it filled with spinach with sesame) - the food there feels so artificial.

I wish you a very merry Christmas, and a year to come better than all those before!

Women are more likely to die of heart disease than breast cancer

I am sorry to hear about your grandmother’s heart disease and I am happy that you were able to spend quality time with her before her death. You are making positive steps in your personal health by managing your weight and monitoring your stress levels. Making bentos is a great way to teach others portion control. Good luck and congratulations on your anniversary.

Mary K Guam

no food like food from the

no food like food from the heart =)

celine in Los Angeles, CA USA

Of course we’re all

Of course we’re all enjoying your stories… :)

Eve, USA


Thanks for sharing your memories with us. I really enjoyed reading them, while remembering events of my own childhood (even though not that long ago). Looking forward to a new year full of bento recipe and tips :) - Hanne (currently in the UK, in Germany for Christmas)

That box looks

That box looks fantastic!

Denise from UK

Congrats on sticking with the site.

If I don’t win (most likley with my luck), I’ll probably buy one. It looks perfect for taking outdoors, and for more diet friednly lunches for the creature from the blue laggon (ie. my brother, his current box is way too big). Congratulations again.

Alice England


I love this bento.

Allison, U.S.

I’ve always wanted to get

I’ve always wanted to get a metal bento - I keep hearing about the potential dangers of plastics and I wonder if there’s anything to it. So thanks for offering this up for grabs!

I’m Kate, in Australia, and I’d like to again say congrats on your anniversary (and thanks for running such a generous celebration)!

love your stories! its

love your stories! its really cool to get to travel so much when you’re younger, it expands your thinking about the world in a lot of ways. and I thnk it shows alot of personal strength to do something like you do in this blog, to stick with it, and to try to make others lives healthy too good luck :D

kitti from odessa, tx USA

I think the metal boxes are

I think the metal boxes are the best! Would love to have this one!

Alexei in Rome, Italy

Holy Moley, bento box.

Holy Moley, bento box. That’s amazing!

Name: KayDat Location: Australia


Such a beautiful box! Loved reading about your childhood memories too. I can empathize with some of them and hope that bento eating will also help me in my own weightloss journey.

United States


Aww this post made me tear up a little. I really enjoy reading your stories.

Franzy, NY, USA

Oh I see

So this is the history of how Just Bento was started. :) Yes agreed with you that it is an important subject to make it owns blog. Same like you, and also influence from my mother, I’m also a person that practice healthy food. I always like cook myself and pack lunch to office. Unfortunately with the 2 kids around, I find it is difficult to spare more time on cooking. So learn to prepare a bento is just perfect to me!

Cheeyee from Malaysia

very nice

name: Sugg Location: illinois

Great blog. One of only two

Great blog. One of only two bento blogs I keep up with!

-Sam TX, USA

Cool box!!!

What a great box! I’m drooling & so is my husband…


A bento box that is quite possibly me-proof! I mourn the loss of those poor plastic bento boxes that couldn’t survive my tough love… >.< Lisa, Sweden

It was nice to take a break

It was nice to take a break from studying to read your story! thanks! :D Christine Québec, Canada

ooh! 0_o

I want! i <3 metal bento boxes!


I live in California =)

What a simple, beautiful bento!

Oh how I would love to open my little rucksack everyday to find this shiny bento awaiting me (even if I had seen it bright and early the morning of consumption when I packed it)!

~Jen Salenger, New York/USA

Please, please, please a bento of my very own...

Bravo I love both of your sites! They are awesome and have inspired me to take back my lunch and snacks from the cheap unhealthy claws of processed foods. Yuck >:p Just Hungry has given me so many ideas for snacks that have been fairing me better than my college diet. So BRAVO to you!! Happy Anniversary and many, many, many, more!!! Thank you. bows

I loved reading your stories they reminded me of my childhood, in Alaska. Growing up my Papa would always wake up early to make the lunches. I had my very own purple lunchbox I loved dearly. My favorite part of lunch was opening it up to see what my Papa packed for that day. It was something healthy and well thought out, anything from fresh salmon/tuna to fresh fruits. Well…your stories just brought back such wonderful memories of my childhood. :)

  • anah aleece

Oh man!

Want it so much! Thanks again!

Laura, United States

yay, bento!

Cool, I’ve been thinking about getting a bento box instead of my unexciting tupperware containers!

TY, Michigan, USA.

so cute and functional!

I would love that thing. i just lost my bento and need a new one . have a great day :)

Hi, Love this site too!

Hi, Love this site too! Congratulations on this site’s anniversary as well.


Hi, Love this site too!

Hi, Love this site too! Congratulations on this site’s anniversary as well.