Cost: 240 yen
Found at: Tokyo Station Bellmart
You can’t just eat any old onigiri on the Narita express.
Then again, I’m not sure that you are really supposed to eat anything on the Narita express. I’ve never been explicitly told not to eat on public transportation in Japan, but I’ve also never seen anyone else doing it. I’ve been scolded for walking while eating and been expressly forbidden by my employer from swigging my bottled tea on my walk to work, so I’ve made certain assumptions. I know it my heart that it is probably not “the done thing,” but I’ve also never gone out of my way to find out the protocol, playing ignorant as long as I can so that I can occasionally have a surreptitious snack on the commuter train. After all, if no one has gone out of their way to scold me, it can’t be that bad.
And on the Narita express, my tradition is to eat the convenience store equivalent of gourmet. I spend the extra 100 yen on the onigiri that I would usually leave to the “other half” – a section which, in Tokyo, seems to have taken over the majority of the store. But it was my day to live large, so I bought a sandwich onigiri, filled with a large slab of (my favorite) Japanese omlette, and seasoned liberally with cod roe. The smoky, fishy, sweet, eggy flavor of these two in combination is absolutely delightful (if you like fish). It’s a similar flavor combination to the smoked salmon that you can buy in the Northwest – which is sweet and fishy in a good way. And perhaps it’s this similarity to the fish that I ate as a child that makes me so fond of it, or maybe I like it just because I know that it is expensive – like wine or fancy cheese at home. Or maybe it is because, on the Narita airport express, it’s a last little taste of Japan before I go home for the holidays. In any case, it was an extra 100 yen well spent.