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Japanese School lunches


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#1 torakris

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 02:34 PM

I copied my post from the School lunch thread and am posting it here as well, what do you think?
Do you think it would be better if they had a choice? Do you think this helpd them grow into less picky adults?


I love the school lunch sysytem in Japan.
Everyone eats the exact same food, there are no choices, if you finish everyhting on your plate you are allowed to have seconds or whatever you would like. The monthly menu is the same for the entire city, so you know what every child in Yokohama is eating and the amounts are controlled as well. The menu lists calories and protein as well as every single ingredient that goes into the making of the food. All of the food is made hot at the school and served in the classrooms by the students themselves. here is a sample of next week's menu:

Mon-- bread rolls, milk, deep fried chikuwa (a fish paste product) with sesame seeds, suiton (a soup with pork, potatoes, daikon, carrots, komatsuna- similar to spinach), peach jelly (100%) fruit

Tues-- white rice, milk, mabodofu (tofu and ground pork dish), chinese salad made with bean sprouts, cucumbers, carrots and peaunts with slighly spicy dressing, mandarin orange

Weds-- raisan bread, milk, spaghetti with meat sauce (with onions, carrots, celery, and mushroms), daikon, cucumber, carrot salad, apple

Thurs-- white rice, milk, sukiyaki style braised dish with beef, shirataki, tofu, chrysanthemum (sp?), and scallions, napa cabbage ohitashi, and for dessert something called ougiage which I have never heard of before.

Fri--milk, egg salad sandwiches, vegetable soup with pork, bacon, potatoes, cabbage, onions, carrots, and komatsuna, ice cream

They use no instant products all of the food is made from scratch, for example the vegetable soup lists pork bones, water, soy sauce, salt and pepper in the ingredient list as well.

The parents are also invited at least once a quarter to come and "sample" the lunches, I actually found them to be quite good! But what is most important is that the kids like it and eat it.

The lunches at my second daughter's private kindergarten/preschool are even better! But those come from a private catering company.

The following link shows children serving and eating kyushoku (school lunch)


http://www.e-village...tml/000018.html



Edited for link

Edited by torakris, 15 January 2003 - 03:08 PM.

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#2 torakris

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 02:38 PM

I think in general children in Japan eat a lot better (healthier) than children in the US. On my recent trip to the US I was surprised that in almost any restaurant I took my kids into the offerings were the same, hamburger, cheese burger, grilled cheese. After their second hamburger lunch we started ordering from the regular menu.

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#3 cherrypi

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 04:12 PM

Ahhh, that brings back memories... I spent two years in Japanese elementary school in the 1970s before our family immigrated to Canada. What I remember most about Japanese school lunches is that I was always forced to finish everything on my tray. As a six-year-old who hated bread and butter, it was extremely difficult for me to swallow four slices of white bread; eventually I started stuffing them in my pockets. But I was always amazed that there was so much food for me every day even without the bread. There were some odd lunches (e.g., chewy whale meat), and some delightful ones (udon with curry sauce). From what I remember, Japanese school lunches were much more wholesome than the crap they serve in North American schools. It's nice to know that that's still the case!

#4 torakris

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 04:24 PM

Ahhh, that brings back memories...  I spent two years in Japanese elementary school in the 1970s before our family immigrated to Canada.  What I remember most about Japanese school lunches is that I was always forced to finish everything on my tray.  As a six-year-old who hated bread and butter, it was extremely difficult for me to swallow four slices of white bread; eventually I started stuffing them in my pockets.  But I was always amazed that there was so much food for me every day even without the bread.  There were some odd lunches (e.g., chewy whale meat), and some delightful ones (udon with curry sauce).  From what I remember, Japanese school lunches were much more wholesome than the crap they serve in North American schools.  It's nice to know that that's still the case!

Luckily the whale meat is a thing of the past, at one time it was a cheap meat substitute, but now it is quite expensive. The udon noodles with curry are one of my daughter's favorites, they were just served this on Tuesday and my daughter said that when the meal was over she went up and told the teacher how much she loved them and how good they were.

My husband, who also attended Japanese elementary school in the 70's told me he was also forced to to eat everything, nothing was wasted. Nowadays however, it depends on the teacher, some are stricter than others.
In my daughter's kindergarten, they carry the dish up to the teacher and ask if they have eaten enough (if there is anything left on the plate) and the teacher will either say fine or encourage them to eat a little more of something.

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#5 Akiko

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Posted 16 January 2003 - 12:29 PM

Tokaris,

You're making me want to move back to Japan.

I loved school lunch...except for the disgusting milk. I'm sorry, but Japan's milk is so much more awful tasting than milk in the US or here in England... I don't know what it is but it's definitely different.

My friend who is a pastry chef, went to consult in Japan and had a lot of trouble revising her creme brulee because of the difference in taste of the milk and cream... do you have this problem when you bake?

Anyways, I loved that curry udon too... and the kinkan (what are those called in English?) ... and just wonderful stuff we got for lunch. I just could not stomach the milk!

#6 torakris

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Posted 16 January 2003 - 02:46 PM

Tokaris,

You're making me want to move back to Japan.

I loved school lunch...except for the disgusting milk.  I'm sorry, but Japan's milk is so much more awful tasting than milk in the US or here in England... I don't know what it is but it's definitely different.

My friend who is a pastry chef, went to consult in Japan and had a lot of trouble revising her creme brulee because of the difference in taste of the milk and cream... do you have this problem when you bake?

Anyways, I loved that curry udon too... and the kinkan (what are those called in English?) ... and just wonderful stuff we got for lunch.  I just could not stomach the milk!

Akiko it is interesting that you mention the milk. I actually like the milk here and couldn't drink while I was in the US!
I normally drink my milk with ice cubes, it has to be ice cold for me, but when I tasted the school lunch at my daughter's school I drank it on the warm side and actually found it to be not bad.

I love the cream here, although the fake stuff here is nastier than the fake stuff in the US, but the fresh creams are really great!
Of course I have never made creme brulee in either country.

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#7 mamster

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Posted 17 January 2003 - 07:17 PM

The school lunches in the US are so bad it's depressing to think about. In Seattle, for example, it's the goal of the district to avoid serving food that requires utensils. Occasionally they'll have spaghetti or something, but that's just a break from the endless cascade of chicken nuggets.

The Japanese lunches sound wonderful. Seattle also serves all its students the same lunch every day districtwide. It's just never ma po tofu (I would have loved this when I was a kid--I mean, it's like sloppy joes, only good).
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#8 torakris

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Posted 18 January 2003 - 01:22 AM

The school lunches in the US are so bad it's depressing to think about.  In Seattle, for example, it's the goal of the district to avoid serving food that requires utensils.  Occasionally they'll have spaghetti or something, but that's just a break from the endless cascade of chicken nuggets.

The Japanese lunches sound wonderful.  Seattle also serves all its students the same lunch every day districtwide.  It's just never ma po tofu (I would have loved this when I was a kid--I mean, it's like sloppy joes, only good).

One of the best things about the lunches is the variety.
You never see the same foods in one month and except for a couple of very popular dishes (curry rice, mapodofu, corroke) they may not even be repeated the next month. They also work with very seasonal ingredients.

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#9 torakris

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Posted 01 July 2003 - 01:32 AM

I was off at the elementary school today for the once a year kyushoku (school lunch tasting) and like I said in the first post they really impress me with this stuff.
Before we ate there was a (long) talk about the history of kyushoku, how the menus are decided (season, calories, fat, etc), special dishes for children with allergies, how the kitchen operates, etc.
I missed most of the talk because I was chasing my 2 year old down the hallways, but I was able to join up again at teh tour of the kitchen to see how the lunches are made. Then it was off to the classrooms to feast.
Today's menu was meatballs in a amasu-ankake (sweet-sour sauce) with white rice, a dish of cucumbers and various seaweeds in a sesame dressing and "Chinese" soup with pork, tofu, carrots, onion and egg.
My son ended up eating 10 meatballs and drinking two cartons of milk, I enjoyed the lunch as well and will probably be asking for the recipe of the cucumber salad, the dressing was great.

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#10 Kim WB

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Posted 01 July 2003 - 06:43 AM

When does the school year end for your kids?

I like the variety at my son's school, salad bar, yogurt bar, stir fry and sandwich bar, and a hot lunch course.. and no one checking to see what amount of food you ate, which I prefer for my kids.

#11 torakris

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Posted 01 July 2003 - 02:37 PM

School vacation in Japan runs from July 20 to August 31.

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#12 jhlurie

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Posted 01 July 2003 - 02:41 PM

How do they deal with food allergies? (assuming they ever happen among that population)

I won't ask about religious restrictions, since it seems to me they are assuming uniformity in their students in that regards.
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#13 torakris

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Posted 01 July 2003 - 03:27 PM

How do they deal with food allergies?  (assuming they ever happen among that population)

I won't ask about religious restrictions, since it seems to me they are assuming uniformity in their students in that regards.

food allergies are quite prevalent here, the most common being egg, but others such as soba (buckwheat) or peanuts are occasionally seen. The "Chinese" soup thatw as served yesterday had egg in it, so as we toured the kitchen we saw the special pot and seperate bowls set out for those those kids who can not eat egg products. Most allergies are treated this way, by not adding the offending product, so the soup was the exact same except the egg. Other times something special may need to be prepared, such in the case of if an omelette is served.
I do know one person whose daughter has severe food allergies and she is allowed to prepare a bento lunch for her daughter to take to school.

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#14 torakris

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Posted 01 July 2003 - 03:29 PM

Forgot to mention that this lunch is not free, we pay every month for it.
It costs 220yen a day (about $1.85) which for a well balanced hot lunch is a good deal.

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#15 torakris

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Posted 21 October 2003 - 04:10 PM

The front page picture of my newspaper this morning was of very happy 6th graders in Toyama-ken ( #16 on the map http://www.japan-gui...list/e1002.html ) whose school lunch yesterday consisted of a whole boiled crab (as well as other dishes). The crabs are being given to all the 6th grader (and teachers) in the prefecture by a local fishermens asssociation because "many kids nowadays are unfamiliar with the deliciousness of fresh crabs and very few know how to eat a whole crab".
All of the schools in the prefecture will recieve their crabs by the end of November.

The story from a different newspaper:

http://www.yomiuri.c...0031021i515.htm

Edited by torakris, 21 October 2003 - 04:12 PM.

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#16 torakris

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Posted 26 October 2003 - 05:50 PM

I just ran across a great Japanese site all about kyushoku.
You can see pictures of all the meals served at this Hokkaido elementary school all the way back to 1997!.
Here is what they have eaten this month:

http://www.nikonet.o...310/kon310.html

click on any menu to see what the meal looked like

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#17 specialteach

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Posted 26 October 2003 - 06:20 PM

I just ran across a great Japanese site all about kyushoku.
You can see pictures of all the meals served at this Hokkaido elementary school all the way back to 1997!.

I have a few questions. This is so amazing. Watching what my kids bring for lunch is one of the worst parts of my job. It seems so civilized in Japan.

Is it safe to assume that the teachers eat whatever the students are eating? Do the teachers have to pay for the meals as well?

How do they get the food to the classroom warm and pick up the dishes?

Does the school smell wonderful around lunch time? Mine smells like microwaved, processes food.

Are there special occasion lunches for any holidays?

What if a family cannot afford to feed their children?

Thanks!

#18 prasantrin

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Posted 26 October 2003 - 08:11 PM

Is it safe to assume that the teachers eat whatever the students are eating?  Do the teachers have to pay for the meals as well?

How do they get the food to the classroom warm and pick up the dishes?

Does the school smell wonderful around lunch time?  Mine smells like microwaved, processes food.

Are there special occasion lunches for any holidays?

What if a family cannot afford to feed their children?

Thanks!

Since I screwed up so badly the last time I tried to move around quotations, I'll just answer in paragraphs :smile: .

At the junior high school I worked at, the teachers also ate school lunches and paid for them. I did for a time, but after awhile found that I ended up wasting more than I ate, so they allowed me to opt out of the program. I think I paid about Y4500/month but that was about 7 years ago.

Two students would go to the main lunch room every day and pick up containers of food for the entire classroom, as well as the trays, bowls/plates and eating utensils. They would bring them back to their homerooms and dish the food out for each of their classmates. At the end of the meal, any leftovers would get dumped back in one of the original food containers and the trays and dishes stacked, then would be brought back to the main lunch room. Two students also brought food in the same manner to the teachers room (for teacher who didn't have homerooms) but the teachers and other staff members (principal, secretaries, custodial staff) would prepare the trays. Oh, any leftovers were given (sold?) to a pig farm as feed. Interestingly enough (to me), curry could not be added to the leftover pail because the pigs didn't like curry. Pork products, however, were OK :blink: .

The smell of the school depended on what was being served. Some days were great, some days were not. Our school lunches were made on site, however, and not all schools do so. Some contract out so the schools don't smell as much of food during lunch time.

The only special occasion lunch I remember was in July. On the hottest day of the year (or what is considered the hottest day of the year by Japanese people), unaju would be served. I always missed that day, which sucked for me because I love, love, love eel! I think the last school lunch before Christmas, we had fried chicken and Christmas cake (traditional Christmas food for Japanese people :biggrin: ). There may have been other special lunches, but I can't remember them now.

As for less fortunate families, they have their meals paid for by the school board. Not just their meals, but other supplies, books, musical instruments, uniforms, etc.

We had a dietician at the school who was responsible for making up the menus for the entire year. At the beginning of every month, we would get our lunch schedules. It was great fun trying to decipher what I was going to eat. Some days were great, but some days it was stuff I hated (anything with gobo or hijiki, for example). Some days, when most of the lunch staff were at meetings or whatever, we would have very simple food like nikujaga. Except my nikujaga usually had very little niku in it. I quit our lunch plan when we got a new dietician. Her meals were not as well-planned, so I didn't get much I could actually eat. They would still give me their extra milk every day, though, and bread when they had it. Considering how much those things cost in Japan (at the time, it was about Y200 for a litre of milk), I saved a lot of money that way!

#19 dornachu

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Posted 27 October 2003 - 06:13 AM

I'm so jealous of the lunch menus you guys get in Japan!! I don't think I mind if they were served in my cafeteria at work!! But I have to agree with the earlier posts that for some odd reason, the taste of milk in Hong Kong is also very odd, its just different....also, the way they make coffee, unless you go to a starbuck.

#20 helenjp

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Posted 17 April 2004 - 12:21 AM

Ooh, school lunches again!

Son#2 started middle school. He has a choice of bring-your-own (voted down by Mum), or A or B menu. A menu is designed to go with bread, and B menu is designed to go with rice, but it seems rather flexible. However, the main course ingredient is the same - so if A menu is fish fried with flaked almonds, then B menu is fish simmered in miso. Son spends a long and happy half hour each fortnight filling out his lunch choice form. His main question is: Which menu looks BIGGER? We pay for lunches. I'll post a sample later.

Son #1's elementary school menus are noticeably different each time the head of cooking changes (they are rostered for several years at a time to schools around the city).

First week of school lunches for the year from elementary school (April menus guaranteed to contain seasonal foods, something luxurious, and kid favorites like curry):
Brown sugar rolls (not sticky, just brown!), milk, hamburgers with funghi sauce (in APril???), beefun rice noodle soup, handful of dried fish, apple

Rice, milk, ma-bo dofu (ground pork simmered with beancurd in a miso-y sauce), parched soybeans, kiwifruit, corn potato (??)

Rice, milk, veges simmered in broth, fresh sardine fillets grilled with herbs, canned white peaches, handful of dried fish

Stirfried chinese noodles (with pork and vegetables), sweet rice dumplings rolled in toasted soybean flour, milk, shrimp dumplings and young bamboo shoots soup, apple

Rice cooked with bamboo shoots, milk, wild vegetables simmered in a thickened broth, deep-fried scallops, parched soybeans

#21 helenjp

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Posted 17 April 2004 - 12:37 AM

Found the middle school menu...

A: naan bread, ground pork curry, chinese bean thread vermicelli salad, cabbage soup, egg custard, milk
B: pork curry, salad as for A, royal soup (??), egg custard, milk, rice

A: almond roll, fried fish, german potato salad, chinese egg-drop soup, kiwifruit, milk
B: rice, mackerel simmered in pureed daikon with nameko (tiny fungi), pickled spring cabbage, miso soup, kiwifruit, milk

A: spaghetti with meat sauce, baked potato, tofu and vege clear soup, acerola berry jelly, milk
B: rice with bamboo shoots, grilled salt salmon, green beans panfried, vegetables with sesame, clear soup, fruit yogurt, milk

A: milk bread roll, tofu with funghi in arrowroot-thickened clear sauce topping, kinpira-style wakame (sea lettuce stalks, Italian soup, Japanese kiyomi orange, milk
B: Rice, ma-bo tofu (ground pork simmered with beancurd in a miso-y sauce), vinegar-dressed wakame (sea lettuce), Chinese chives and egg drop soup, Japanese kiyomi orange, milk

A: Almond toast, Chicken in a lightly seasoned broth, Burdock and wiener sausages panfried, spring cabbage with sesame dressing, Chinese greens and crabmeat soup, Fruit salad with rice-flour dumplings, milk
B: Rice, Chicken teriyaki (glazed with soy sauce and mirin), corn saute (??), greens and thin strips of fried tofu, simmered together, miso soup, fruit salad as for A, milk

Whew!

#22 torakris

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Posted 17 April 2004 - 01:04 AM

on the bento thread Hiroyuki posted his son's elementary school lunch from a school in Niigata prefecture:

This is a quick translation. I don't know how to say some of the foods, dishes, and types of cooking in English.

***
This week's menu at my son's school (April 12 to 16):

Mon: Fruit cocktail, boiled spring cabbage with sesame seeds, pork curry and rice with fukujin zuke, milk
Tues: "Entrance congratulations" school lunch
Potato salad, chicken kara-age, eggdrop soup, azuki bean rice with sesame and salt, milk
Weds: Kirizai (natto with nozawana finely chopped, katsuo bushi, sesame seeds, and other ingredients), sawara (Japanese spanish mackerel) grilled with salt, tofu dumpling soup, white rice, grapefruit juice
Thurs: Namuru (?, Korean dish), Sasakama (type of fish sausage) no isobe-age, "self onigiri" (white rice mixed with yukari (akajizo) to be made into a rice ball by each pupil) with nori, soybean isoni (what's that? (磯煮)), milk
Fri: Daikon salad, cup meat pie (what's that?), banana, bread with strawberry jam, eye-of-scallop soup, milk
***

The school lunch costs 254 yen per day.

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#23 torakris

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Posted 17 April 2004 - 01:11 AM

My kids in Yokohama are also starting off the year with some of the kids favorite foods it seems:

hamburger patty (with liver added) with a tomato sauce and bun, german potatoes, jellied fruit dessert, milk

raisin roll, panko'd deep fried salmon, Chinese style salad with harusame noodles, cabbage, cucumbers, and carrots, peach compote, milk

spaghetti with meat sauce, rolls, corn salad (with cabbage and cucumbers), milk

pork curry, barley rice, kiriboshi (dried) daikon and cucumber salad, milk

chilli con carne (with soy beans and macaroni), shokupan (white bread), cabbage salad and fruit with yogurt, milk

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#24 Hiroyuki

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Posted 17 April 2004 - 02:56 AM

I loved whale cutlets. How much I miss them! Good old days are gone...

***
A mistake, again. It's one of those days. Not whale cutlets but whale kara-age, tatsuta-age, or something like that. I wonder if non-Japanese people like whale meat and if they have ever eaten it in the first place... I don't want to raise political issues, though.

Edited by Hiroyuki, 17 April 2004 - 05:33 AM.


#25 Toasted

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Posted 17 April 2004 - 03:54 AM

Amazing lunches. It all looks so healthy-quite different from the stuff that my children are offered. You're so lucky that they have the option of buying lunch. I make all the school lunches here and it gets tedious after a while.
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#26 torakris

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Posted 17 April 2004 - 03:28 PM

not all places have those options, it depends on where you live. Currently in Yokohama no jr. high schools offer hot lunches they are all bring your own bento, hopefully this will change by the time my daughter hits jr.high in 4 years! :biggrin:

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#27 Hiroyuki

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Posted 18 April 2004 - 12:09 AM

I loved school lunch...except for the disgusting milk.

I never felt the milk served at school lunch to be disgusting. It was our understanding that the milk was watered down. I'm not sure whether it was really watered down. Proccessed milk tastes different, doesn't it?

#28 Hiroyuki

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Posted 18 April 2004 - 01:19 AM

Today, I asked my son what he thought about the school lunch. He says that the only thing that he dislikes about the school lunch is that the lunch period is too short for him to finish. He says he needs 30 minutes to finish his plate. He is really a slow eater, even at home.

The lunch period at my son's elementary school is 45 minutes from 12:10 to 12:55, but the actual eating period is 25 minutes:
- Preparations: 15 minutes from 12:10 to 12:25
- Start of eating (say "Itadakimasu") to end (say "Gochisousama"): 25 minutes from 12:25 to 12:50
- Toothbrushing and clearance: 5 minutes from 12:50 to 12:55

#29 Hiroyuki

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Posted 18 April 2004 - 01:51 AM

History of school lunch in Japan:

In 1889, school lunch was first served for those pupils who could not take their lunches to school because of poverty in a private school in Yamagata prefecture.

http://www.nikonet.o...i/nirekisi.html
(Japanese only)

Rice balls, broiled fish, and tsukemono (pickles) were served at that time.

#30 Hiroyuki

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Posted 18 April 2004 - 06:55 AM

In Japan, there are two types of school lunch systems:

自校方式 Jiko system (Lunch is made at the school)
センター方式 Center system (Lunch is made at a "center" and delivered to the school and other schools as well)

It's hard to say which is better, but I prefer the former. Shiozawa town, where I live, adopts the former system, but it may be replaced by the center system in the future. A special committee is currently discussing this matter.

An explanation of school lunch systems:
http://www1.jca.apc....stem/data1.html
(Japanese only)