Tuesday 11 September 2012

Dietary Education in Japan

Hello everyone, Doni is here.

Today I talk about the commonly scenes in daily school lunch time and dietary education in Japan.

There are no dining room in our school. Most of school in Japan don't have dining room, because Japan is small country, Some rebuilt schools or private schools have lunch room. But it is very rare.

But we Japanese turn it into positive. School lunch is sent up to each class rooms. Upon arrival every pupil in the class hase a role to play.

Firstly all students lay dining space in the class room. Some class mates put apron and take the place of servers. They are responsible for serving lunch to the other class mates.

I think it is funny and also have a pride in our school lunch program.

In Japan, the present school lunch program has been implemented under the "School Lunch Act" enacted in 1954. The main purpose of the school lunch program is to promote healthy development of the minds and bodies of school children.

Later, "The School Lunch Act" was revised in 2008 and its aim was changed to "promoting Shokuiku".

Shokuiku means "dietary education". As of May 2009, approximately 10 million school children participate in the school lunch program. This program itself is an educational activity.

People with good manners do that every meal when they eat with their family or when they are invited to other people’s houses as we

Meals in Japan traditionally begin with the phrase "Itadakimasu". Also it is customary for pupil and student to say "Itadakimasu" all together before eating lunch at school. Upon finishing a meal, we also use the polite phrase "Gochisosama-deshita"

It is originally meant to show our appreciation to life, nature, a person who cooks a meal, farmers, serves the food or makes money to feed us,

Lunchtime discussions focus on community, friends and every child’s social responsibility. Lunch is a lesson in itself with many of the issues over spilling into the curriculum.

They could also learn proper manners, by having meals together with classmates. Furthermore, understanding of balanced diet and food culture can be enhanced through learning the menu of each meal.

Sometimes teacher also guide to sit up at lunch time. And say, "Don't put your elbows on the table", "Keep your back straight." or “Hold the bowl in one hand, and the chopsticks in the other". Teachers need to play a role similar to parent at home. Thanks for a job well done.

I remember that a teacher used to anger to me "Doni! Don't talk with food in your mouth!" It is good memories for me. ;-)

This unique manner of eating in Japan is unusual in the world, even in the same cultural area where people use chopsticks for eating, such as China, Korea, and other South East Asian countries, where people recuse themselves from holding a plate to eat something.

On the other hand, recent advance of Japanese cuisine overseas is gaining foreigners' understanding of Japanese table manners.
Teacher should to eat school lunch because it is one of education. Especially a principal of the school must eat that lunch for inspection of meal in advance.

Oh... There is a question to you from Doni

In your country, does a teacher eat school lunch with pupil at a dining room ? Please advise.

OK. lunch time is coming. I introduce our school lunch menu for Tuesday;

Cooked Rice with Taro (Eddoe), Clear Soup with Mozuku seaweed, Egg Rolls, and Milk.

Food-o-meter- 8/10
Health rating- 7/10
Bites- unknown
Courses- Rice, 2 sides,
Price- JPY234yen (Approx. US$2.9 £1.8 )
Pieces of hair- 0

Today my friend, a veteran school dietician sent a picture for Martha.
Never second? Please don't mention it.

Mixed Rice with Soy Bean, Miso soup with Deep-fried Tofu and Autumn Vegetable, Mackerel Teriyaki, Kidney Beans Salad, and Milk.

Are you stuffed already? If you say yes, there is a question for you.

Where does your food go after you eat it?

Excuse me. This is a special apron to teach for pupils that a good appetite and regular motions are the signs of good health. It is one of the dietary education, maybe. ;-)

Do you want it?


  1. The miso soup looks so good. When I am sick with a cold, miso soup from our local japanese restaurant is my favorite thing to eat.

    When I was a student (about a million years ago, lol!), our teachers ate in the same lunchroom with us, but at their own table with the other teachers.

    I just have to say, I *love* the apron!

    1. Oh really? I want to give you a present my miso paste.
      This is my video of how to make miso.
      It takes half a year to ferment and mature in a butt.
      I usually make miso paste in winter.

    2. Thank you SO much. I am definitely going to make some :)

  2. Great posts from Japan, and such wonderful insight into the culture of school meals, dietry education and teh food itself.

    Great job!!

    1. Thank you for tour comment.^^
      I'm grateful. It will encourage me.

  3. This brings back fond memories! I remember being so surprised when I visited Japan, that the children ate in their classrooms. We were a group of visiting teachers; at one school we ate with the students, and another we ate with the principal.

    It was an excellent trip. And lunch was delicious, both times :)

    1. Oh you have came to Japan. 2 times?? Thank you very much.
      How about hospitality in Japan? We always welcome you.

  4. Hi Doni, thank you for sharing what school lunches are like in Japan! I like that they send home ingredients lists and teach the students good eating manners and good nutrition.

    I live in Florida, USA. In the public schools where I grew up, the teachers had their own separate room to eat their lunches away from the students.

    When I was in elementary school, we had a reward program that chooses one student from each class every month for good work and excellent behavior. That child was allowed to each lunch with their teacher that day and was given a treat of a McDonald's sundae with their lunch. That was in the early 1990s, and I'm not sure they still do the sundaes, but they do still have the reward program.

    1. Wow. Thank you very much or your information.
      I noted it.

  5. Hello Doni, it is so interesting to learn about Japanese lunchtime culture. The food looks absolutely delicious and healthy at the same time. It is amazing how serious schools in Japan take proper dietary education and I think so many schools should follow this example.
    Thank you for this great post, I'm looking forward to read more from you. Oh, and the apron is hilarious!!! Best wishes from London

    1. Thank you for your comment.
      I tell my associates, dietician and dinner ladies.
      It will encourage us for tomorrow.
      Arigato gozaimasu!

    2. Hello Sarah,
      Thank you for your comment.
      I wanna make pupil to enjoy the lunch time at school.
      To do this, I'm always thinking what shall we do.

      Oh... You like the apron? i like it, too. hehe.

  6. I think that it is great that the teachers eat with the kids and model proper eating habits and table manners. I live in GA (southern part of the USA) and the teachers do not eat with the students as the students go to the cafeteria and the teachers go to the teacher's lounge (a small room where they can eat). A few times a year the teacher and students eat together in the classroom, but the teachers turn on the TV usually when this happens. This arrangement having the teachers eat separately from the students is called a "duty-free lunch" for the teachers and there would be much unhappiness if the teachers had to eat with and instruct the students during lunch time!

    1. Thank you for your information.

      Lunch time is just a break from working time for teachers?

  7. I wish our school teachers and principas in the USA ate the same food as the students! They most often bring lunch from home and eat in a room for teachers only. They can buy school lunch if they choose, but most do not.

    1. Tank you for your information. I noted.

      I would like to know the reason why teachers don't have lunch with students.
      Teacher's union deny that...?

    2. Teachers do not have lunch with students mainly because it is seen as a break time from work. Break times are required by law for all full-time workers, not just teachers. If a teacher wanted to eat lunch with the students, he or she could. I am not a teacher, so I shouldn't make suggestions as to why they do not choose to do so, except that it is not the custom here.

  8. When I was in grade school sometimes the teachers ate with us in the lunchroom, I know that in the lower grades we could earn a lunch with the teacher and our teacher would sit with us at our lunch table. In high school teachers did not eat with us they had their teachers lounge or ate in their classroom. Sometimes they would monitor the lunchroom activities and talk to students if they had already had their lunch.

    The apron is a fun way to learn about how your body digests. I would think it would be fun to have in a school.

    1. Thank you very much for your comment. I noted.

      I'm glad you like the apron.
      It must to be so fun if we put it at class room.

  9. Those meals look really tasty and healthy.
    And that school lunch program should be exported to as many countries as possible.
    Education about how to eat healthy (and some table manners..) can't be learned too early.


    1. Thank you for your comment.

      Yes I think it is harder than protocole school in Monaco. ;-)

  10. LOL I love that special apron. Those meals look delicious especially the mackerel meal.

    1. Dear Abligail,

      Thank you for your comment.
      I tell it to the dietician who planed that menu.

  11. WOW! What an informative article, Doni! I love the concept of eating together and educating the students about manners and healthy eating. The apron is so cute!

    1. Thank you so much for your comments.

      Arigato gozaimasu!

  12. I love how you learn proper manners at lunch. We could use more of that in the U.S! I'm curious about the "Kidney Beans Salad". What ingredients does it contain? Thank you for you great posts.

    San Diego, California

    1. Dear Nancy,
      I'm Doni. Thank you for your request.

      Ingredient: Kidney Beans,Carrot, Corn, and Ham.
      Dressing: Apple Vinegar, Olive Oil, Salt, and Black Pepper.

      After boil Kidney Beans, dress the ingredients. thats all.

      It is very easy to cook. Please try!

    2. Do you mean Green Beans? Kidney Beans are red like this: http://www.iknowlegumes.com/images/beans/original/kidney-beans.jpg

    3. Oh.I checked dictionary.

      Yes, You are right.
      The beans of the above picture is String Beans.
      String beans are young kidney beans which is in seed pod.

      Thank you very much for your attention.

  13. Doni - nope, teachers do not usually eat with the students in the lunchroom! I find it very interesting that the teachers advise the children on table manners as in most public schools here lunch is a free for all. Usually all the kids from all classes eat together in a canteen while the teachers stay in the classrooms by themselves.

    ~ Dani

    Las Vegas, Nevada

  14. Hi Veg, It is nice to coming Japan and tell their lunch at school.
    I'm Japanese and grown up in Yokohama where is half an hour from Tokyo.
    This is good chance to think about school dinners in Japan.
    Because it is totally usual thing for me and I didn't know other style when I was in elementary school.
    So it is very interesting to read your impression and comments.

    Well, is was 90's when I was in that age. So it might be little different to now.
    In my time, there were more bred (it's about 3 for beard 1 for rice and 1 for other in a week)
    About a menu, there were 2 kind of them in my school, one for our parents and one for us.
    Before lunch time, some of 5th or 6th grade kids made broadcasting to tell today's menu and ingredients.

    1. Konnichiwa. Eiko san,

      Thank you for your comment from Japan.

      Yes. I agree with you. School lunch is also changing.
      Now it s 3 for rice a week as the national average.

      Arigato gozaimasu!

  15. In our school in Austria there was school lunch as well, but it was for the attended boarding school for boys. Sometimes I ate there (it was a possibility for non-boarding students to get a lunch, but I was not a boarding student myself) and it was pretty good although it often looked as if somebody had eaten it before and then vomited it up again. Meat was always there, but on Friday it was either fish or someting sweet like kaiserschmarrn because Christians are not allowed to eat meat on Friday. It was a catholic private school and so we had to pray all together before the food was served.
    All the pupils were sitting on large tables were the food was served on platters by the cooks (grown-up people, not pupils). About eight students shared a table. From age 10-14 a teacher was the head of the table and shared the food, but the olders were responsible for themselves, so sometimes food time was war time because they fought over the biggest slices of meat etc ;). Sometimes there were rumours that a boy was hurt during lunchtime because he was staked with a fork in his hand ;) but I can't say whether these rumours are true or not. You see, manners were not very important although sometimes boys who were too rude were scolded.
    Most teachers were sitting on a seperate, prettier table with real glasses (students only got plastic cups for juice) and table cloth though.

    Nadja from Graz

  16. All the lunches and suppers just superb i wish i could be one of the student there.
    High School Diploma

  17. From years 7-11 we used to eat on round tables with our friends in the dining room, some of the teachers ate in the dining room but on their own table. My Dad went to boarding school, where a school master would sit on the table with them, so table manners were strictly enforced! I'm so jealous of the incredible food on offer - the nearest we have to Miso soup is from the Wagamama's in town!

  18. A late comment as I've only just managed to read this article. All the meal from the Japanese school this week have been excellent and so appetising and healthy. I agree with other commenters that the emphasis on nutritional value and education in school meals in excellent - specially the idea of sending detailed ingredients lists home with pupils to parents is an excellent idea, although I do worry that in the UK relatively few of those lists would ever reach their parents.

    Although at both primary schools I attended (in the UK, Scotland) I don;t recall if the teachers ate in the same room as the pupils, although I do perhaps think in the second school they did, but at a separate table. I do recall that the food at that school was good, whereas at the first school it was pretty awful (I'm talking about the late 1950s so a long time ago). I think one or two teachers were on duty in the lunch-room to supervise, but they ate elsewhere, I think.

    However, at both secondary schools I attended, the teachers did eat in the same room, although at a separate table and they were served, whereas pupils picked up their food from a counter - each course separately, though, not at the same time, so the pudding/dessert (usually hot) was freshly served, as it had not had time to congeal/cool on the plate whilst the main course was being eaten. Tables at secondary school were supervised by a 'prefect' (I was one, in later years) basically to ensure proper manners were observed. It seems old-fashioned now, but I think it contributed to a more civilised atmosphere, which was kind of normal anyway at all the schools I attended. We ate proper food, of course, not pre-processed, although of varying quality, but mostly perfectly acceptable.

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