What I Think of the Japanese School Lunch System


Personally, I don’t agree with the Japanese school lunch system because I think it’s unhealthy and processed. For example, nothing raw ever features on it. This is, I was told by one of the teachers because someone once got sick from fresh cucumber. Which is why everything is pickled, fried and lathered in perservativey sauces. Also, last week they ate whale and that really fucked me off.

Alas, like all things, there are two sides to the system. One of the good things about school-lunch is that everyone starts eating together. Which is a really sweet sight, to see ravenous kids politely waiting to commence demolition with their pals.

The other positive about school lunch is their attempt at internationalizing the dishes. I say attempt because some of the things that show up are plain ridiculous. “hot dogs”, “hamburgers” and “gratin” which are nothing like you’d expect. Today, school lunch was “Indian” curry served with naan bread which brought so much excitement to everyone’s faces that two teachers even took photos of it (yeah yeah, I know, it’s Asia, everyone photographs their meals but no, not school lunch guys, that’s one thing that’s not worth the click. Sorry lunch chefs :/). So yeah, I think that aspect of school lunch is a positive, especially for these inaka (countryside) kids. Cos God forbid they turn out like my Kiwi high-school math teacher and try Chinese food for the first time at 55!

If you are blessed enough to have an abundance of food choices, you should totes venture out. Food is culture, guys!

Image stolen from HERE. Hope you don’t mind, Miss.


  1. Whale. I’d heard that’s served at some schools for lunch. I think it’s mainly because they can’t get anyone else to eat it. With the controversial whale hunt “research” going on, it seems very few people actually like or want to eat whale. It certainly isn’t profitable. My wife defends it, saying it’s cultural. Well, I’m from Canada, where we used to hunt whales decades ago. The Inuit still hunt whales, but they don’t really have much choice, being so isolated and having few food choices. But the culture aspect doesn’t convince me at all. It was culture in Japan to use swords, but they’re illegal now. Things change.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Unfortunately, people in Japan are reluctant to change. My own wife is reluctant at times. We’re moving to Canada in two months, and she’s often worrying that she can’t adapt, and criticizes how many things are done in Canada. And she’ll have to accept that Canadians are totally against the whale hunt.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. She will be fine in Canada I think because in Canada it’s okay (moreorless) to have an opinion and a DIFFERENT way of seeing things than your peers. Whereas the social pressure is SO strong here to stay the same and to follow the same route as they have always that it’s hard to be the only one to go against the system. I have many Japanese friends overseas whose personalities are so different than to those living here. Also, many who have come to Japan after living overseas and noticing themselves become more reserved!


      3. Well, the thing is, she’s a bit more set in her ways, and she’s really disliking how people are more open. She doesn’t want to have to deal with shop staff talking to her or strangers starting a conversation with her. That’s very Japanese.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think the quality of kyushoku really depends on the local government. In some areas, schools try to prepare lunch by using locally grown foods or make traditional dishes… it’s a pity that your school provides unhealthy kyushoku… :<

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, it’s always with white rice and white sugar bread.. “salads” always pickled with excess sugar and salt and the meat is greasy and processed (Sausages, meatballs etc).


  3. wow sounds almost as bad as the US. It hard to beat US school lunches in the unhealthy food department though. I remember school lunches being a lot of fried stuff and canned vegetables. I don’t think I saw a fresh vegetable ever! A good reason to pack a lunch…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wait…

    In the anime I watch and the manga I read, the students bring their own bento to school.

    And if a girl likes the male protagonist, she makes a homemade bento for him.

    Isn’t this how it is supposed to be? Whatever happened to everyone-brings-their-own-bento-to-school?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting, I had no idea about the “no fresh foods” rule for the school lunches. I think it’s silly, considering how easily one can get sick from a wrongly processed food as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s interesting to get your perspective. I was born and raised here, but other than kindergarten, I attended a US Air Force dependents school, so I didn’t deal with Japanese kyushoku. However, my daughters did, and I don’t remember any “nothing fresh” rule! It’s sad that you have such a rule in your area, since Okayama is famous for fruit. I’m a pastor, and we’ve had numbers of ALTs in our church over the years, since we do everything bilingually, and I’ve heard all sorts of tales from them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi! Yes, apparently there used to be fresh food for school lunch but after one student became ill they made sure everything was cooked/pickled! Anyways, it’s not the worst food in the world and the Japanese seem to have a good metabolism for it! I myself can’t handle white rice or white bread everyday, that’s all! And as I’ve mentioned, there are good points to it too! Thanks for sharing your story! Very interesting, too! Much love xx


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