Mixed Rice Wappa-vesse/Takinol

Misaki Naka

Feb 6, 2018

It’s no secret that bento boxes are a big part of Japan’s food culture, and in the Aizu region, you’ll find Wappa-meshi: a popular dish that’s particularly well-known for the bento box it’s made in.

A generous portion of sumptuous seasonal seafood layered atop fluffy Japanese rice is steamed and served in a Mage-wappa – a wooden box made of Japanese cypress and cedar that’s traditionally produced in Hinoetamata Village. This bento box comes in handy because its wooden material prevents ingredients from going bad and also absorbs water from the rice. This helps keep your lunch fresher for longer, and preserves the taste of your Wappa-meshi even after it gets cold. It’s perfect to bring along with you especially when you’re out and about, exploring the streets and sights that Aizu Wakamatsu has to offer.

Today, you’ll find many restaurants in the castle town that serve Wappa-meshi as a popular item on the menu. I’d recommend Takino, a cozy restaurant complete with traditional Tatami mats where you can get a serving of “Kettobashi Wabakomeshi” (their version of Wappa-meshi) for 1700 yen. Enjoy it, and don’t forget to order an extra portion for me!

わっぱ飯とは、曲げわっぱにご飯と旬の魚などを入れて蒸し上げる料理です。杉や檜の薄い板を曲げて作られるお弁当箱のことを曲げわっぱと呼びます。曲げわっぱ杉や檜を使っているため、白木の香りが食欲をそそり、ご飯の水分をほどよく吸収するため冷めてもおいしく殺菌効果があり傷みにくいという特性を持っているためお弁当に最適です。会津地方では、檜枝岐村で製作が行われていました。さらに、会津の山人たちがお弁当箱として使用していたとも言われています。現在、会津若松市の各お店では、「わっぱ飯」としてお弁当だけでなく、メニューとして多くの人が食しています。おすすめは田季野で1700円で食べられるけっとばし輪箱飯(わっぱ飯)です。

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