Just when you thought I was done photo dumping....Well, I am. Kind of. I just had a couple of more things I wanted to share with you.
First, the eki bento (a.k.a. ekiben). Ekiben are boxed lunches sold in train stations to folks preparing to board the bullet train. I bought mine at a shop like this right before I set out from Kyoto to Tokyo.
As you can imagine from this picture, there seems to be an infinite number of possibilities when it comes to ekiben. Most stations sell station specific ekiben as well as a wide array of seasonal and old favorites.
Traveling by shinkansen is much more pleasant and enjoyable than any kind of train transportation available in the United States. The cars are clean and quiet, and the ride is incredibly smooth. The seats recline, there is plenty of legroom as well as adequate tray space for a good-sized ekiben and drink.
Of course, none of this matters if you are traveling with small children because then you are holding at least one of them on your lap while also trying to balance your boxed lunch and manipulate chopsticks in such as way as to force your toddler to take a bite of the salmon already. Traveling on a quiet and clean bullet train with kids is worse than flying with them because there's no ambient engine noise to drown out their poorly-timed observations or high-pitched protestations. Plus, the aisles are so darn wide, they can actually race each other down them (not that I would know from personal experience or anything; though I can say with a degree of certainty that you might be asked to keep your children quiet even when that's quite impossible given the excitement-provoking double whammy of TRAINS! and first-time views of majestic Mt. Fuji).
|Pink shows Stow Mt. Fuji for the first time (back in June).|
But, I digress. Back to ekiben...There was a time in my life, when I was a conservative ekiben consumer, but that time seems to have passed. Last week, before starting my marathon journey from Kyoto back to Tokyo just in time for a 12+ hour flight back to the US, I purchased this makunouchi ekiben.
Check this out:
The only real surprise was the baby octopus in the bottom middle slot. I'm also not a huge fan of clams (top left). The other stuff was heavenly, though. I especially liked the tofu and pumpkin (sharing space with that darned octopus).
Anyway, the moral of this long-winded story about ekiben is that you should go to Japan and eat one, preferably without small children on your lap.
And now, I promise, the last of my interesting English pictures from this trip.
This is a souvenir shop in Kyoto Station. I looked. The store did not have a single heart, human or otherwise. Talk about false advertising!
This sign hung on the wall just above the toilet paper dispenser in my hotel room taunting me every time I used the toilet. Even now, I can't make sense of it (reading the Japanese doesn't help, either). If I don't need the whole roll, it seems wasteful to finish it, no?