Every day I am subjected to the mega healthy, perfectly balanced meals of the Japanese school system. Each day is the same routine as well. Students portion out all the meals and set the tables. While they do this, they wear smocks, hats, and mouth coverings. Usually they all eat together in one room, but I have seen on other schools that there is a lunch cart that makes its rounds to each room. After all the food has been divvied out, and the bell tolls, lunch starts. Someone stands up and reads every thing on the menu and what region of the Japan it came from. Then they read some fabricated advice about how we need to eat everything, even what we don’t like, and leave nothing on our plates. Then, we close our hands say thanks for the meal, and then begin.
Everything is a bit quieter than American schools, but it is still a relaxed atmosphere. Students generally always sit in the same places and usually keep conversation within their vicinity. It really is expected that people finish their entire meal, which is hard for some people. Usually it is a non issue, but I saw students gathering to offer their well-wishes to a student who soon started crying a bit. It was only then that he was permitted to leave the remaining food.
When done, we close our hands again, say thanks for the meal we just ate, and then it is clean up time. Dishes are stacked, and put in boxes to be taken to the kitchen. Every bit of trash is put in a bag corresponding to type to be recycled, or burned. The food itself is good, and when students are absent, their portions need to be eaten as well. I always try to consume mass quantities, though delicates like milk and desert generally go to the winner of rock, paper, scissors.
Here are a few pictures. These are technically the lunches of another JET, though the nature of them is no different from my own and I didn’t feel like taking more pictures.
I don’t think that students in America would get behind whole minnows and seaweed soup…
Rice and veggies are always on the menu, and some sort of soup makes a frequent appearance. I am really happy with these meals. At first I was thinking that paying for these wouldn’t be worth it, (about 3 dollars a meal), though it was quickly apparent to me that the best thing about this meal is not having to cook it or worry about it killing me later.