The oldest ekiben (boxed meal sold at railway stations) is believed to be the “Toge no Kamameshi,” which has its origins at Yokogawa station, deep in the mountains of Gunma Prefecture. The kamameshi (a steamed mixture of rice, meat and vegetables) weighing a hefty 725 grams, is sold in ceramic containers. This makes it a bit inconvenient to carry — although it does a good job of keeping the contents warm, thereby making it a wonderfully tasty meal. Sales were first launched in 1958, and its popularity continues to this day. The shop that sells it, called Oginoya, has a long history, having been founded in 1885. Originally Oginoya sold onigiri (balls of rice wrapped in seaweed) with takuan (radish pickles), but when sales lagged it came up with the idea of offering a meal in a ceramic vessel. People who choose to keep the container and take it home are able to re-use it for steaming individual portions of rice. For a really authentic experience, the dish can be consumed while seated in a passenger car pulled by an old steam locomotive, which makes special runs as a local tourist attraction.



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