Drinks-wise, this would mean a 110-yen, 500ml carton of coffee: very milky, very sugary and not quite as caffeine-y as I would normally take it. Food-wise, it would mean a pre-packed bread product of some kind: either hotto cakey (four small American-style pancakes, zapped in the microwave for a few seconds to melt the 'butter' and 'maple syrup' sandwiched between them), a bread roll with a jam and margarine filling, or on this occasion, a variation on eggy bread that was steamed rather than fried. Japanese bread products are - how can I put this in as tactful and diplomatic a way as possible? - completely devoid of taste, texture and nutritional value, but since I can't quite bring myself to eat rice for breakfast, I put up with them out of both habit and financial necessity.
Not that I bought my breakfast there, but this is very much the kind of corner shop you might find on a quiet country road in Japan:
In fine weather, Lake Inawashiro is surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery, but today this was hidden in the clouds, so after eating another pre-packed bread product - this time a peanut butter sandwich with the crusts cut off and extra sugar in the peanut butter - I continued on to the Aizu Hometown Youth Hostel in Aizu-wakamatsu, which by day doubles up as the Yamaguchi Off Licence.
'If you'd booked in advance,' said the manageress as I was checking in, 'I could have made you an evening meal.'
'That's OK,' I said. 'I'm trying to save money anyway.'
'Well, if you go to the Co-op down the road, they should be cutting the prices on their bento boxes about now.'
And indeed they were, thus enabling me to sit in my own private room at the hostel and chow down on this luxurious supper - a snip at just under 500 yen for the lot.