Kyushoku: The Making of a Japanese School Lunch

I’m the principal of Umejima Elementary School
in Adachi-ku, Tokyo. My name is Atsushi Ebara. Not at all. Students from grade 1 to 6 have the exact same duties. They all dish out food, but with grade 1 and 2’s the teachers sometimes support and assist. But by the time they’re in grade six, they are able to do everything. – Put your hands together.
– Okay. Itadakimasu (I humbly receive). The purpose and the role of kyushoku (school lunch program) are for the students to learn that to have a healthy body, eating is very important. Secondly, to experience our own food culture through kyushoku. Lastly to appreciate the hard work of many people
who are involved in making kyushoku from farmers, to kitchen staff, to anyone who helps. All the homeroom teachers eat with their students in the classroom. Teacher, what do we have next period? Teacher, teacher! A test. Teacher, the camera is facing towards you, so do like this. I wouldn’t do such a bad manered thing. As a principal, I have to eat and check the food
before it’s served to the children. So I barely have the chance to eat with children. I’m Rie Kuwabara, the school nutritionist. In our school, we have a staff of 12. But with me, there are 13 people working on the school’s lunch. There are 634 children in the school, but we have lots of staff, so we make 690 meals in total. We have food from all over, but basically the vegetables are domestic and come from the Kanto and even Shikoku areas. Today I’m introducing food from Kochi prefecture. Ginger chicken. In Kochi they grow ginger. Ginger’s essence prevents us from being sick. Guruni (stew). In Tosa dialect, guru means friends getting together. This stew is called guruni because various vegetables are gathered and cooked together. Basically, ingredients are domestic, but on some occasions, some ingredients are processed in foreign countries. But basically, fish, meat, vegetables —
fresh ingredients — are domestic. We buy local ingredients, it’s delivered, and we cook it. They pick it like this, all four of them. How is it? Hard? Difficult? Difficult. Yeah, difficult. I teach kids that by eating, we take life from vegetables so that
we can live (and we must appreciate this). Students don’t help cook the food, but the 1st and 2nd graders help peel vegetables like broad beans, corn, and green peas. Today, 8th graders came to my farm to do their work experience. Tomorrow for their kyshoku’s edamame rice dish, the edamame they’re working on will be used. Ah, thank you! It will be used in the school lunch’s salad. Ah. Is it okay if I eat it? Yes, go ahead. Yes, very sweet. These are called fruit tomatoes. Every month I plan the menu one month in advance. First of all, I write down what vegetables are in season so that I can cook food that’s in season. Secondly, there is event food every month. For example, next month is Tanabata (seasonal festival). So I’m planning food for the event. Lastly, we don’t want to use meat many days in a row. For example, I don’t want to offer chicken today,
and then pork the next day, so I try to put on the menu fish,
then meat, then egg, then tofu. I try to take turns using those ingredients. And the basic thing is that I have to
offer a certain amount of nutrition. This is regulated by the city. So I try to hit 100% of the required nutritional targets. Are there any ingredients or menus that the kids don’t like? And do you repeat those items
or do you try to change them? Because they’re young chidren,
there are things they don’t like, and there are so many things they’ve never
eaten before, so they don’t want to touch it. So on the day they see ingredients for the first time, they can be very honest and there’s a lot left behind. Then that day I get so down, but when they get used to the food,
they’ll eat it, and I want them to expand their expsoure to different types of food. However I try not to be down, and I’ll
once again offer the food they don’t like, trying to change the flavour a little bit, change how it’s cooked, trying different approaches. Do you offer dessert? Dessert, yes I offer it, but it’s not everyday. It’s on special occasions. And so, one thing we do is use fruits
to mark the change in seasons. For example, this month it’s
watermelons and cantaloupes. And at our school we have birthday lunches. So each month the birthday kids
get jelly for their special dessert. So I think dessert can be something
they look forward to. At Umejima Elementary School,
what’s your favourite school lunch menu? What would you say? Today’s hard worker, Kasuya-san. Fried rice with sweet sauce. Really? And so…. Ou-san. It’s curry. Ah, me too! Ahhh, curry! We don’t cook the same menu item more than once a month. For example, curry and rice is very popular, but I can’t make it every week. I can offer it once a month, or once every two months, but I wouldn’t offer it twice in the same month. But compared to other menu items,
I schedule it more often. I can totally understand how people would think that. In reality, it’s nothing like that, it’s like any other public school in Japan. It’s not like there are a lot of wealthy people living here. When the school was rebuilt, Adachi city and the local people wished for a nice school (for the children). The rebuild happened during the bubble,
so they had a good budget, but it’s nothing special,
it’s a regular public school. But isn’t this school’s lunch special? Is this school’s lunch special?
No it’s not special. As for the families that can’t afford
the school lunch fee, basically for low-income households, in Japan we have a social welfare system that will provide the fees. Adachi city has an Oishi Kyushoku
(tasty school lunch program) because the percentage of adults living in
Adachi with obesity and diaebetes is high. So with kyushoku we want to educate kids that to have a healthy body,
eating healthy is important. So Adachi city started the program so kids could
learn the importance of healthy habits by eating and enjoying tasty food. In Adachi, once a month there’s
an Oishi Kyushoku meeting that nutritionists from the
104 schools in my city attend. We gather altogether in one place to
exchange ideas and menu plans. As part of their summer homework parents and
children design their own bentos at home. We pick out the best ones and include them
in the kyushoku menu. We then invite the community to come and
eat the chosen menus together. Thanks for the food. Look left! Even if I have to work harder, struggling to come up with good menus, when the kids react well and say tasty, when they say they’re able to eat
food they previously didn’t like, that makes me feel like it was worth the effort.

100 thoughts on “Kyushoku: The Making of a Japanese School Lunch”

    I have two English versions. The regular "English" only translates the Japanese portions. The "English UK" subtitles have captions for the entire video. If you don't know how to change your subtitle settings, check out

  2. 足立区の給食の取り組み、有名ですよね! 市役所で確か給食メニュー食べられた気がします。。 Adachi city is known for good school lunch program. Not pretty sure, but the school lunch is being served at the city hall cafe, perhaps.

  3. 給食当番の時自分の好きなおかずのところに行って自分の運んでくれる子が来たらちょっと多めに盛ってた笑

  4. In my school in the USA we have burgers, fries, chocolate milk, chips. We don’t even have to eat the vegetables

  5. 261 yen a meal?!!!!! Thats only $2.50 roughly…. no woner people in japan are not growing up right and having kids, they are malnourished. Put another hundred yen in there…no…1000! PWEEZ! T.T * brought to you by the starving artists of the world, whom starve more than make art, yet cant make good art, so they starve *

  6. From where i come from, feeding programs for public schools only include rice porridge or known as lugaw.

  7. Humm getting kids to serve the food to themselves now that’s a clever way so you don’t have to higher someone and give the a proper wage…

  8. In my country, schools doesn't have school lunches, instead we have a tiny shop-like thingy we buy snacks from during a 30 min break time and thats it

  9. Here in Indonesia, most of student got their pocket money from their parents to buy meals in the school cafetaria. Just that simple. Meanwhile, Bento is not a common.

  10. when I used to live in mexico, there wasn’t school lunch, but there was a lot of little puestos and u could buy from those people or bring ur own lunch

    when I went to school in California, there was school lunch, but it’s pretty crappy

    Seeing all these kids working together is just wow, Japan sees this different because here in America they see it as “business opportunity”

  11. Let's take a moment to appreciate this amazing program which it started a year AFTER the atomic bombs hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki…

  12. Brazil has a school lunch program in the public schools. For many students coming from very poor families this is their main meal of the day. It’s probably not as nutritious as Japan’s and students don’t help on anything.

  13. …食器とか全て持ってきてくれるとか…都と県の違いかい。しかも自分の分だけ!?食器集めるのじゃんけんは草自分の分だけさっさと片付けちゃえばいいのに。あら。言い過ぎた。これはこれは。自分の学校と違うのでちょっと嫉妬混じりの文が。

  14. Their classrooms are surprisingly very open. Where I'm from in the Philippines, classrooms had walls on all four sides with the wall facing the hallways having no windows.

  15. In philippines we used to have lunch programs too. Rice, Mung beans and stir fried tiny kind of dried fish. I forgot how it’s called. If I’m not mistaken it’s pandaka pygmaea. Those days were great!! We just wait for the parent who cooks it better like when they add coconut milk to it or fatty cut of pork! It was done randomly assigned by the teacher and then done by each student’s parents. So sad… today the kids don’t experience that anymore.

  16. WOW! This gives them such a better shot at developing healthy habits. The U.S really does have something to learn

  17. The only have the food once or twice a month while we have the almost the same thing every week. Im sick of pizza!!!

  18. ah ah sna jan nlng ako pinanganak,ng napasok kc ako kape lng sa umaga wla pa baon,wla pa lunch sa hapon na pguwi galing sa skul kakain ng nilagang kamoteng kahoy at kape,un ang every routine nmn mgkakapatid pg napasok sa skul

  19. im so proud that the harvest of japan's local farmers have a place to go. in philippines local farmers are struggling where to send the crops that are paying a good price.

  20. Yeah I transferred to Japan and Shook As af because Their lunch is like this well im half Japanese SO when I transferred to Japan I dont know anything about this

  21. I’ve been binge watching your videos because I miss Japan so much… I lived there for a while and seeing a fellow Canadian flourishing in my dream place makes me happy 🥰

  22. guys, believe me the video only focus on good sides of japan. Me as japanese, went thru all those japanese education from when i born to age of 20. do you really need to clean up the rooms by themselves at school? i dont think so. japanese educations are pretty much cracked up. they just focus on "making" useful tools or robots in japan society. they have no brain to think themselves.

  23. Radioactive contamination from the Fukushima nuclear accident is so dangerous that it is not only widespread in the Olympic host city of Tokyo, but also across Japan and the sea. More than a decade later, the Japanese government is lying, saying, "Although the incidence rate of cancer and malformed babies is increasing exponentially, the Japanese government is as safe as it always is." The Olympic Games in Japan should be prevented from being held by people around the world. It is a very dangerous Olympics that will be the proposal of mankind. Separately, Japan, the defeated and perpetrator of the Pacific War, has shown an unconscionable and senseless behavior without offering a genuine apology to neighboring countries that have suffered yet. How can a country like this be a festival of humanity?

  24. Amazing really, well made, attractive looking, well thought out menu's. these meals you would find it hard to believe are every day school meals, goes to show. good kitchen staff, a school staff member ( nutritionist )who really cares and makes an effort to design good menu's, getting in fresh ingredients, menu's designed around changing seasons. teaching the kids that good food is attractive,

  25. i dont really eat school lunch in the US so i replace it with study hall and just grab a snack from a 7-11 or royal farm🤧🤧 not the best diet

  26. I like how they wear masks and head nets.. very sanitary.. unlike my schools where they wore just hairnets and sometimes gloves

  27. On our campus the federal school lunch regulations killed our breakfast and lunch programs. 75% of the food is completely wasted and just thrown away. The only good days are when the cafe staff are allowed to cook 'homemade dishes' that are not just prepackaged crap. I would love to teach in Japan, the respect of the students is definitely something missing in US schools.

  28. ياليت لو مدارسنا زي كذا :(, والله خسارة الفلوس الي تنحط في وزارة التعليم

    حسبي الله عليهم

  29. Feels like seeing my childhood school lifei n Taiwan. School lunch program and had to clean the school (for both indoor and outdoor) on our own.

  30. It is pitiful that the Japanese have become idiots who cannot see the truth, as they are without freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Japan has no freedom of speech and freedom of expression and no opposition party to stand by the ruling party.Japan's ungrateful people in a shameful and thorough dictatorship!

  31. It is pitiful that the Japanese have become idiots who cannot see the truth, as they are without freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Japan has no freedom of speech and freedom of expression and no opposition party to stand by the ruling party.Japan's ungrateful people in a shameful and thorough dictatorship!

  32. You poor thing. The Nanjing Massacre, sexual slavery, forced labor, Unit 731 experiments on living by, massacre Pearl Harbor! Have you ever been educated about this history? Have you ever heard of it? You poor Japanese have become loners all over the world by forgetting history by not learning from some time the crimes you committed against humanity. That's why you guys are so poor. Have you heard of it? I feel sorry that my writings are not Hate Speech and that you have become Hate. Have you heard of it?

  33. アレルギーなんて命に関わる事なのに給食室に丸投げしてるんだな。親が責任もって弁当持たせるべきだと思うけどね。

  34. School lunch in the UK is absolutely terrible. Just a way for the schools to make money becuase some school services are underfunded (thanks government). We literally have terrible Pizza for break that costs up to £2 for utter garbage. Chips every other day, low quality heavily processed cheese, meats… Just to make the school run cheaper. School would have sugary drinks and beverages too. Fattest country in Europe.

  35. I lived and worked in Japan during the early 90's for 5yrs.When the time came that i have to go back home to the Philippines im really hesitant though i missed my family back home,im already used to japanese lifestyle.Japan is a beautiful country very clean and orderly…so with the japanese very polite,disciplined,honest and i wish our country will be like Japan too.a very good example.Miss Japan so so much!

  36. I love how they were gear special for cooking while in the US you would find hairs in your food from the lunch ladies

  37. In Russia our kids have got two meals. Soup and rice with chicken (like example) + seasonal drink. It's free if there are three kids in the family.

  38. Yummy. School food there taste better than the 5-star restaurants here in the united states. We live in a hell hole of a cesspool here.

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