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“Kanimeshi Bento” is the most popular ekiben from Oshamanbe



The most popular ekiben in Oshamanbe, Kanimeshi Honpo Kanaya’s “Kanimeshi Bento” finished selling in JR trains on 28 February 2019. Those who are disappointed about that, don’t worry! You can still enjoy Kanimeshi Bento at direct shops, online stores, and department stores, etc.! 
 

Table of Contents

- Kanimeshi Honpo Kanaya’s “Kanimeshi Bento”
- The history of “Kanimeshi Bento”
- You can enjoy “Kanimeshi Bento” at direct shops, online stores, department stores, etc
- Train style seats appeared to the flagship store of Kanaya in Oshamanbe

 

Kanimeshi Honpo Kanaya’s “Kanimeshi Bento”

“Kanaya” in Oshamanbe started selling ekiben (station bento box) since 1928 and “Kanimeshi” came out in 1950. Since then, Kanimeshi Honpo Kanaya’s “Kanimeshi Bento” has been loved by many people. 

▲Kanimeshi Honpo Kanaya’s “Kanimeshi Bento.” 
 
One of the best parts of a Japanese train ride is enjoying one of the many delicious bentos available. In Hokkaido there are many different kinds to try, but one that has been a consistent hit is Kanimeshi Bento (crab and rice bento box). Among them, “Kanimeshi Honpo Kanaya” is the origin of Kanimeshi.

I asked Matsushima from Kanaya about Kanimeshi Bento. 

“The most significant characteristic of Kanaya’s bento boxes is that it is provided while it’s warm. We blend Hokkaido’s rice ‘Yumepirika’ and ‘Nanatsuboshi.’ Recently, people tell us that they can’t see crabs because, I guess, the mainstream is seafood bento box. However, seasoned crab flakes have squeezed deliciousness and it matches really well with warm rice.” 

When I put chopsticks to the bento box, I could notice a nice smell of crabs. An umami flavor of crabs different from boiled ones spread in my mouth when I put as much rice and crab flakes as I can. The white parts of crab flakes are pickled flakes. These add accent to the flavor. 

The homemade seaweed, young lacefish, and hijiki tsukudani also works well as an accent. 
 

The history of “Kanimeshi Bento”

Mr. Katsujirou Kanaya, the founder of the shop, originally boiled the crab and sold it at platforms. However, the crabs were only available to boil during the summer fishing season. He came up with the Kanimeshi so that delicious crab could be enjoyed year-round.
 
▲I heard that specialized cleaning staffs boarded on trains to clean crab shells back then. Boiled crabs also look delicious, isn’t it? 

Bento box became popular instantly right after they started selling at platforms! In the old days, when the windows on trains could be opened or closed by hand, you could call out to one of the bento salesman on the platform from your window and enjoy a hot lunch delivered right to your seat.
 
 
▲Bento sales people lined up on the platform in 1935.

▲People could purchase crabs at platforms. The picture was taken in 1949. 

▲After Kanaya started selling “Kanimeshi Bento,” people worked to make crab flakes from crabs. 

▲The picture of their kitchen in 1955. They carefully prepare bento boxes with people’s hands. That has not changed until now since then. 
 
▲ A bento salesman circa1965. 
 
As time has passed these platform salesmen have disappeared. After that, they produced to order only and equipped bento boxes according to the time when express trains stop at Oshamanbe Station. 
 
However, JR Hokkaido ended selling in the express “Super Hokuto” in 2019. The long history of selling “Kanimeshi Bento” in trains ended on 28 February 2019. The last train was “Super Hokuto no. 15” which left Oshamanbe Station at 4:24 PM. 
 

You can enjoy “Kanimeshi Bento” at direct shops, online stores, department stores, etc

You don’t have to get disappointed because it’s not the end of Kanimeshi Bento itself. They ended selling in trains but it does not mean you can’t find Kanimeshi Bento anywhere! 



[Kanaya Honten]
Stop by “Kanaya Honten” when you drive from Sapporo to Hakodate and buy “Kanimeshi Bento”! Why don’t you have the bento box at Maehama Beach if it’s sunny? Of course, it is nice for souvenirs, too! You can purchase smoothly if you make a reservation.

- 40-2 Oshamanbe, Oshamanbe-cho, Yamakoshi-gun, Hokkaido
- Phone: 01377-2-2007
- Hours: 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM 

[Kanekatsu Kanaya Shokudo]
At this restaurant, you can not only enjoy delicious dishes using ingredients from Hokkaido, but also freshly prepared “Kanimeshi” in the restaurant. 

- 39 Oshamanbe, Oshamanbe-cho, Yamakoshi-gun, Hokkaido
- Phone: 01377-2-2142
- Hours: 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM 

[Drive-in Kanaya]
This is a roadside restaurant along the National Road. Even when you have no time, you can pick up bento box quickly if you make a reservation. 

- 12-7 Hirasato, Oshamanbe-cho, Yamakoshi-gun, Hokkaido
- Phone: 01377-2-3255
- Hours: 10:30 AM - 3:30 PM

[Kanaya Marui Imai Sapporo]
Those who live in Sapporo probably know about this already. You can purchase “Kanimeshi Bento” at the direct shop in the department store. It might be nice to buy Kanimeshi Bento here, leave with train from Sapporo Station, and enjoy the bento box in the train. 

- Marui Imai Sapporo Honten Odori-Kan B1F, 2 Chome Minami 1 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido
- Phone: 011-205-2143
- Hours: 10:30 AM - 7:30 PM

[Kanekatsu Kanaya Shokudo Shinkotoni Branch]
You can also purchase “Kanimeshi Bento” here. Why don’t you take away their bento box and enjoy it at home while it’s warm? 

- 4 Chome-1-5 Shinkotoni 8 Jo, Kita-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido
- Phone: 011-299-8108
- Hours: 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
 - Closed on Wednesdays

Other than that, they will continue to stock bento boxes to supermarkets and do temporary demonstration sale at department stores, so you can relax, Kanimeshi Bento fans! 

Train style seats appeared to the flagship store of Kanaya in Oshamanbe

Although you can still have Kanimeshi Bento, some people might still want to have it in trains. I have a great news for you. 

Kanaya Honten in Oshamambe built and opened a free resting place in 2017. The name is “Jiyu-Seki (non-reserved seat).”

▲Kanimeshi Honpo Kanaya in Oshamanbe

▲I found the sign of “Jiyu-Seki” here… 

When I entered, the real seats used in JR Trains were displayed as if I was in a train. The huge display in front played a video about the history of Kanaya. 

 ▲When I visited the space, I found a person who were enjoying Kanimeshi Bento at the Jiyu-Seki. He told me that although he drove here from Sapporo, he wanted a feeling of being in a train. 

▲You can turn around seats and use the table under the armrest. 
 
You can use as a seat for two people, or turn seats around to enjoy with a group. It is interesting because I felt like I was on a train after a while sitting here. 

You can enjoy the feeling of traveling with trains if you buy “Kanimeshi Bento” at Kanaya Honten and enjoy it here. 

Related Link

- Kanimeshi Honpo Kanaya​

 
  • “Kanimeshi Bento” is the most popular ekiben from Oshamanbe

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Takako Chiba

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