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July 24, 2017

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Weekend festival to feature railway bento boxes: TRA

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA, 台鐵) held a press conference yesterday promoting the upcoming first-ever Formosa Railroad Bento Festival, which is set to take place from July 17 to 20.

In his opening speech, TRA Director-General Chou Yung-hui (周永暉) said that bento boxes have long played a special role within Taiwanese culture. He said that the purposes of bento boxes surpass mere practicality and that they are "boxes full of love, story and human nature."

Tourism Bureau Director Lai Se-chen (賴瑟珍) said that eating bento boxes is a "shared memory" among the Taiwanese people. She added that this festival is the ideal opportunity to allow bento boxes to step into the international spotlight.

Chou said he hopes for the festival's expansion in the future. This year, the participating countries are Taiwan and Japan. South Korea had originally planned to participate but had to withdraw due to their recent MERS outbreak, he said.

Chou said that he hopes that the number of participating countries can eventually expand to seven and include partners like the VR group, Finland's state-owned railway company.

Bento Tales

The press conference also had a segment dedicated to an awards ceremony. As part of the Formosa Railroad Bento Festival, the TRA awarded cash prizes to people with inspiring stories about how bento boxes influenced their lives.

One author described how bento boxes allowed him and his spouse to meet, while another drew parallels between bento boxes and works of art. The three winning stories illustrated the impactful nature of bento boxes.

The 2015 Formosa Railroad Bento Festival will take place from July 17-20 as part of the 2015 Taipei Culinary Exhibition at Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Hall 1.

The event will showcase a wide spectrum of bento flavors at a total of 35 stalls. Stalls will offer cherry duck boxes from Yilan, classic pork chop and bamboo shoots from Greater Kaohsiung, E7 train-shaped bento boxes from Japan, beef sukiyaki boxes from Southern Japan and many more.

During the press conference, the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation announced that they would be providing traditional Taiwanese bento boxes at a discount of 21-percent off, and encouraged the public to participate in this first-of-its-kind event.

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