As an American stepping into a Japanese public school, you’re bound to notice some differences. Especially at lunch time. Learn how the Japanese public school lunch program, called kyushoku, helps shape students from the very beginning of their schooling.
Kyushoku, the Japanese school lunch program, has been around for centuries, but became increasingly popular after World War II when the schools were tasked with providing nutrition for many students unable to receive it at home. Since then, kyushoku has been a part of local Japanese laws and is instituted in much of the country. Unlike the typical public school in the U.S., Japanese students eat in their classrooms, right at their desks! The meals are healthy and well-balanced, with a variety of meat, fish, vegetables and sea plants. These in-the-classroom lunch programs are designed to help school children understand what makes up a nutritious meal while also learning the fundamentals of proper eating and table manners. The children deliver and serve the food themselves, with each week a new group of students being assigned to lunch staff duty. This idea of taking responsibility to prepare, serve, eat and clean up after lunch helps build a sense of service and a spirit of harmony. A typical lunch consists of bread, rice or noodles, along with a meat or fish dish with vegetables and finally, dessert and milk! During the school year, students get to experience a full range of international cuisines, further driving home the teaching element to lunch time. What an amazing way to get the neccessary nutrition these little citizens need to grow and learn while providing teaching moments in the classroom.
When we traveled to Japan to shoot our fall catalogs, we met Jessica. Here you can see her eating lunch at her desk, using chopsticks. Looking for lunch inspiration for your little citizens? Head on over to our post about bento box lunches inspired by countries around the world.
And we just love this video…