During my most recent trip back to Japan, I had a chance to do some proper train travelling, indulging in several ekiben or station bentos along the way. Here's a brief report, plus what you need to know if you try your own train and ekiben trip.
How to see if a bento box is really the right size for you before buying
You've browsed the bento blogs and flickr bento groups, and while you know that
any appropriate box can be used for bentos, you're hankering after a 'real' bento box. But bento boxes aren't that cheap, especially if you're ordering by mail. How do you know you're getting a box that's the right size for you?
You may have read what bento box sizes are considered appropriate for kids, women, men and so on. But that's advice given for traditional-style Japanese bento meals, where about half of the capacity or more is taken up by tightly packed rice. If you'll only be toting Japanese style lunches those recommendations are fine, but if you plan to mix it up with salad bentos, sandwich bentos and more, then the box-capacity recommendations may not apply to you.
So how can you really tell, before you spend the money for a bento box, if it's the right size for your specific needs?