For most of us, eating in Japan can be a very expensive albeit exciting adventure. You can find yourself blowing through your budget and maxing out the plastic sooner than you would have ever have expected and that puts a crimp in anyone’s plan.
But, like pretty much everywhere, there are ways to eat well and keep some yen in your pocket while doing it. The bento is one of those ways.
In essence they are a simple box lunch, filled with healthy possibilities, all nicely partitioned, and much snazzier than anything your mom ever packed in your Roy Rogers lunchbox. (Actually, I don’t think moms do that anymore, but you get the point.) In Japan, many a kid will still go to school with their own mom-packed carton of delights, always tasty and nutritious. They have gone out and come back in popularity over the years for various reasons, but these days you should be able to find a tasty bento almost anywhere and if you’re going to be out all day rubber necking, they’re a life saver.
And they’re not just for kids. Bento have been around for centuries, especially popoular with factory workers and travelers. As a matter of fact, a train station is a good place to find one. And don’t expect MacDonald’s prices, they’ll usually go from around $9 to $12 but after a few nights out on the town, those prices will take on a new attractiveness.