This is the third day of the week long giveaway party to celebrate the first anniversary of Just Bento, as well as the fifth anniversary of Just Hungry. (The first day of Just Bento’s part , and the second day .) Today’s bento memory is about school outings, or ensoku.
Once or twice a year, in the spring and/or fall, Japanese schools gather up the kids in one whole grade (form, or year, depending on where you live) and herd them off to a school outing. This is called 遠足 (ensoku), which combines the kanji character for ‘long distance’ with the one for ‘feet’.
In the 6th through 9th grades I went to school in Hachioji, a large suburban town near Tokyo, which has one big natural attraction, a small mountain called Takao-zan. Most of our ensoku were hiking trips to Takao-zan. I have to admit that I hated hiking back then (am still not overly fond of huffing and puffing up a mountain, let alone trying to get down) so those outings were not my idea of a great time. One thing that redeemed it though were the bento that my mother would make for me. It didn’t matter what else was in my bento, as long as it had big, plump onigiri, and sho-yu tamago, soy-sauce eggs (recipe here ):
I was very particular about what I wanted in my ensoku onigiri: One had to have umeboshi, or umekaka (umeboshi mixed with bonito flakes). For the other, I wanted grilled salted salmon (shake). If there was a third, I wanted grilled tarako. And I also loved sho-yu tamago, which were simply hard boiled eggs rolled about in a bit of soy sauce until they turn a burnished brown. Sometimes my mother was too busy and just packed unpeeled hardboiled eggs with a twist of salt, but I much preferred the sho-yu tamago. The onigiri and eggs were wrapped in aluminum foil, so I didn’t have to carry home an empty bento box in my ryukku sakku (from ‘ruck sack’, or in other words a backpack).
The school also allowed the kids to bring along snacks, or oyatsu, to the outing, but the instruction sheet sent home for anxious parents to peruse as to what gear and supplies the children should bring along specified a strict snack budget. If I remember correctly, in 6th grade it was 200 yen. The day before a school outing, the local grocery store would be packed to the rafters with kids roaming about the snack and candy shelves. We agonized over our choices: Should we get a box of Pocky or a bar of Ghana chocolate and a bag of Kalbee potato chips, or spread out our spending more and go for the sold-by-weight candies? Such difficult choices.
Anyway…on to today’s giveaway!
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).
Today’s giveaway is for fans of traditional Japanese bentos. I gave a mixed review  to Bento Boxes: Japanese Meals On The Go , but it is still a solid introduction to traditional-style Japanese bento lunches in English.
I’ve paired it with a book I haven’t had a chance to talk about yet, but is from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Masayo Waki. It’s called 毎日 ムリなく 手早く おべんとう  (mainichi murinaku tebayaku obento: Everyday, Low Effort, Speedy Obento). I’ve chosen this one because, while it is in Japanese, it has really clear illustrative photos that show you how to combine ingredients for a balanced bento. The combinations and styling of the bentos in here are traditional yet very current and beautiful, without being cute. Both books do rely a lot on typical Japanese ingredients, so you’ll get the most out of them if you have access to these.
DEADLINE: Your comment/entry must be posted before Midnight Greenwich Mean Time on Saturday, December 6th.
This giveaway is now closed. Thank you for participating! The winner will be announced next week. Check out the front page  for the remaining open giveaways you can still enter!