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Posted on Jul 25, 2007 in admin, Equipment, SF Bay Area Local, Shopping | 37 comments

Shop: U.S. dollar store to sell bento gear online

Shop: U.S. dollar store to sell bento gear online


Molds for hard-boiled eggsIchiban Kan, a rocking Japanese-style dollar store in the San Francisco Bay Area, tells me that they’re going to open an online store in November 2007 that will sell inexpensive bento gear. As I wrote in the Bay Area bento gear shopping guide, Ichiban Kan is an excellent bargain store with an ever-changing selection of matching bento boxes, insulated bento sets, bento accessories, collapsible sandwich cases, bento bags (kinchaku, insulated bags), egg molds (2 for US$1.50), rice molds, character bento goods (Cinnamoroll, Hello Kitty, Shinkansen, Pokemon), cute food cups, chopsticks and utensils with cases, etc. Most products are US$1 to $1.50 in the store; we’ll see how they price things online. I hope they’ll give us a nice break from those sky-high eBay prices (not to mention shipping from Japan — ugh)! Stay tuned for details.



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  1. Best news ever! Thanks for sharing the information!

  2. YES.

    im not that far away from san francisco myself, but far enough away that the cost of gas doesnt make shopping feasible, even at a dollar-ish store!

    i hope they dont jack it up too much from store prices, or they have good deals on shipping!

  3. And this right after I spent just about $100 at Uwajimaya. Not all on bento gear, of course, but they do overcharge for the tiniest things… Thank goodness someone’s doing something about the market online.

  4. W00t! Cannot wait. Just discovered bento this week and I do not have many options except Ebay. Too pricy to get started… but I am looking forward to the dollar store going online.

    Thanks for your very sweet site BTW. :D

  5. Oh, lordy! O_O Please let it be so~

  6. Make sure you post this again when they go online, there is NO WHERE in Amish country Pennsylvania to buy Bento supplies, and I paid far too much to get my box from Japan.

  7. i just headed out to ichiban kan today upon your advice =) SO CHEAP! i love it! thanks for the heads-up….btw anyone know where to get a CHEAP totoro box? (besides ebay grrrrrrowl) thanks!

  8. @10 from Jan:
    Don’t know about shipping outside of the U.S. — I’ll ask next Tuesday when I go again (I go every week after Japanese playgroup for the kids). I’ll put a bug in their ear (maybe think about it for orders over a certain amount?).

  9. @8 from Shannon:
    I’ll definitely post when they go online or when I get updated info. BTW, I added a function where you can elect to receive Lunch in a Box posts by email if you want — it’s linked in the upper right hand side under “Subscribe”.

  10. @6 from ME:
    Thanks for the kind comment! Don’t feel that you need expensive gear to get started — you can always start packing lunch in shallow Tupperware, Rubbermaid or Lock & Lock boxes that can be found in supermarkets or superstores like Walmart or Target (my Amazon “shop” has some cheapo ideas). Once you’re into it you can either seek out a box you like, maybe stumble across a cheap one at an Asian dollar store (or Sanrio store), or cross your fingers about Ichiban Kan. Welcome to the fold! ;-)

  11. @9 from anj:
    The only Totoro boxes I’ve seen in person so far have been PRICEY at Moritaya (not that different from the JList/JBox prices). I wish I knew a cheaper source, but things get pricey quickly once you start wading into character goods…

  12. Wow, this is great! Also, I recently noticed that Japan Centre ( has a Daiso logo with “coming soon” beneath it. I was hoping they’d sell bento things, as well.

  13. @15 from Syrra:
    If Japan Centre starts selling Daiso goods, that’ll be great for readers in the U.K. — I hear it’s quite difficult to get good bento gear there. Keep us posted!!!

  14. I think this is the best thing I have heard all day! Man those dollars will add up quickly!

  15. Oh yes! Thank god! That was my favorite part about visiting SF…so I guess I don’t have to fly over there as soon as I thought. Thanks! =)))

  16. Woo! That’s really great! Can’t wait, supah excited! >_

  17. My greatest wish is that more Amazon-linked companies and for that matter, many online companies that sell bento boxes and bento accesories would start to offer international shipment. I would pay for internation shipment on handy bentoboxes and otherwise food related japanese storage accesories. I have searched through the japanese shops I can find and have basically emptied out what they have to offer.
    I realise that international shipment poses the threat of extra work with basically no margin of profit. However, my wish is regardless that more will offer international shipment over time.

  18. @21 from Jessica:
    Gosh, that used to drive me crazy when I lived in Japan and tried to mail order things from the U.S. and other places. That, and U.S. companies that gave a 1-800 number without a regular toll number that could be used from outside the U.S. (Don’t even get me started on phone numbers using letters to spell words — Japanese phones didn’t have letters on the buttons, so I’d have to sit down with a pencil and paper and try to reconstruct a U.S. phone…)

  19. Hello! I just wanted to say that I recently found your site through LiveJournal. I wish I needed to pack a lunch for myself! I work at home. But I’m inspired to start doing it for my husband.

    And my mom loves bento. When she comes to visit this fall we will definitely go lunchbox shopping at some places you recommend (we live in East Bay).

  20. @23 from Stephanie:
    Hi Stephanie, and welcome! I know we wind up saving a lot of money by packing lunch as Bug and I tend to be outside at mealtime three days a week. It’s really just a treat that the meals are nice and compact so that I can cram them into the diaper bag… Anyway, enjoy bento shopping with your mom this fall — there are so many places you can go in this area for cheap/good bento gear (Ichiban Kan and Daiso first!!!); it’ll be fun for you, I think. Again, welcome!

  21. @24 from lalalady7:
    They have a good assortment of cute food cups (silicone coated) in many different shapes/sizes with fun characters (the Clickety Clack guys, Sanrio characters, etc.). Not as many as Daiso, but nothing to sneeze at!

  22. Oh this is such great news! I just bought my first bento box and some accessories off ebay. After reading over on flickr and finding out how inexpensive this stuff is if you live in the right place I feel a little sick about the money I spent. Good to hear they have the Clickity Click guys as I’m currently loving Mr. Mink Monkey. he cracks me up. :)

  23. I’ll definately order from them! Let them know lots of us will be good customers. :)

    Can’t wait!

  24. @27 from dcdesigns:
    I just stopped by IBK again today (every Tuesday!); they’re still on for an online store launch by the end of the year. So much cheaper than eBay if their prices hold…

  25. @28 from Cheryl:
    Have done so!!! Fingers crossed…

  26. @10 from Jan:
    I asked Ichiban Kan today about shipping outside of the U.S., and they said they’re still planning the details. Definitely shipping within the U.S. is fine, but no decision yet on international.

  27. @31, Biggie. You can nudge at them, in a Japanese manner, saying more customers (hopefully) would come their way ;).

  28. Awesome news! I can’t find any of the cool stuff where I live.

  29. @33 from Jennifer:
    I have high hopes for this too; if their online store is like the retail store there will be some great bargains.

  30. OMG I will go totally bananas (read: broke) once they finally open. I feel so sorry for all the poor people that will still get robbed on eBay after this. :( I’ll definitely blog about this next week!!

  31. @36 from Pikko: You said it! I don’t know how their online inventory cycles are going to be, but the retail store definitely cycles through different bento-related products over a 6-week or so period.

  32. Hi -it’s been a while since I’ve stopped by but I have found the following useful in the UK:

    Japancentre now have some Daiso stuff for mail order - not strictly bento related, but they have a tamagoyaki pan for under £5 and a nigiri sushi mold for £1.45 (under cookware on the Japancentre website).

    I’ve also used the guys at for Japanese food items before and I would recommend them.

    Hope you don’t mind me posting these here, still loving the bentos!

  33. @38 from docsarah: Hey, welcome back! Thanks for the U.K. sources; I remember someone writing (you?) that Japancentre was going to stock Daiso stuff, but no date or details. Excellent news for UK readers!

  34. I can’t wait for this. It’s hard to find affordable cute bento goods where I live,and I hate using E-bay. This is definitely awesome news!

    Oh, and I love your site! I’ve been going through the archives for the past week and getting lots of ideas! :D

  35. Is there an updated word on if a site is up and running as December 2007 has come and gone (and January is flying by too!) ? I tried an internet search but didn’t get anything. Thanks!

  36. @41 from Jessica: I was in Ichiban Kan exactly one week ago, and I asked a clerk (not the manager I usually talk to) for an update. She said the store wasn’t up yet, and kind of pulled a face. I wish they would get their act together!

  37. Those things are sooo expensive here in UK, one of those boxes you bought for $1.50 they are selling on eBay for $10 plus another £10 for shipping… So I’m staying with my plain boxes for now. I bought only some accessories… egg mold, dividers, picks… also few times more expensive than it is worth… but I did not know that few days ago… I’m half way reading your blog… It is very useful resource of information for me. Thank you :)