Ten Days of Japanese School Lunch 給食

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Though I may not be teaching elementary school anymore, while I was there I found that there were some interesting differences between a Japanese, public elementary school and an American one. One of the major differences was public school lunch (I’m sure that’s no surprise). In the US, I knew of kids who brought lunches from home (more often than not, I was one of those kids) and those who at the school-made lunches. When I was teaching public school, I never saw anyone carrying a lunch from home. Everybody eats the school-made lunches. Having eaten both, I have to admit that I think Japanese public school lunches (給食, kyushoku) beat the pants off the lunches I remember at my elementary school (except for pizza day). So to give you a sense of what Japanese school lunch is like, I wanted to just show you pictures of ten random, days of Japanese school lunch. ITADAKIMASU!!

**The reason why I just say “soup” in each of the pictures is because I honestly don’t know the names. I apologize for that in advance. If anyone knows…there’s a comment space below just begging for your to post :D your info!**

Japanese School Lunch Day One: When you mix the vegetables, rice, and meat from this dish (which most kids do), it's like eating the Korean dish, Bibimbap.

Japanese School Lunch Day Two: Soup, Rice, Meatballs, Spinach and Corn Salad, and Milk. Those meatballs were my second favorite dish at the school. Whatever sauce they were using was slammin'!

Japanese School Lunch Day Three: Bread, Fish Filet (with tartar sauce), Tomato Soup, Salad, and Milk. I think some meals are universal.

Japanese School Lunch Day Four: Rice, Soup, Chicken Patty, Salad, and Milk

Japanese School Lunch Day Five: Rice, Soup, Meat Dumplings, Milk and I'm not exactly sure what the main course was, but it was tofu pork and vegetables. I don't know about the how it looks, but it's really quite good.

Japanese School Lunch Day Six: Softomen (soft noodle), A Boiled Egg, Miso Soup, Vegetables and Milk. You add the noodles to the soup, little by little.

Japanese School Lunch Day Seven: Fried Chicken, Vegetable Rice, Corn/Pickle/Cucumber/Carrot Salad, Soup, and Milk

Japanese School Lunch Day Eight: Natto, Fish, Potato/Carrot/Sprout Salad, Rice, Soup, and Milk

Japanese School Lunch Day Nine: Chicken, Curry, Nan, Broccoli/Corn/Mayo Salad, and Milk. My favorite lunch days were always the curry and nan days. They also had a creamier style of curry which was even tastier. おいしい!!

Japanese School Lunch Day Ten: Fish, Rice, Soup, Sweet Dumpling (I'm not sure what they're called but they taste a lot like the sweet tofu wrap on Gomoku inari zushi) and Milk

The typical Japanese style lunch consists of rice, some form of protein (fish, chicken, beef, etc.), vegetables, soup, and milk. Overall the meals are well balanced and often really tasty. IF you’re a teacher here in Japan, what are lunches like at your school? I’d love to see pictures :D . If you’re unable to post pictures in the comments section, feel free to pictures to me via email: thejapanguy@gmail.com.

See you soon,

Donald Ash

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  • Anthony G

    Lunch day #10 looks delish, Reminds me alot of the usual bento boxes I would buy

  • http://www.facebook.com/balelia.rossini Valeria Rossini

    Aw, Japanese school lunches are soooo good! When I was at school in italy, school lunches were terribile… And here in Japan they also serve NAAN! OMFG, I wish I was still a child just to eat that lunches!!!

    • thejapanguy

      You could dress up in a Japanese kid’s school uniform and just walk in, lol. No, on second thought maybe you shouldn’t do that. They are REALLY tasty. I don’t know if it’s the same from school to school, though.

  • DL

    Fish filet! With tartar sauce! Mmmmm….
    I shouldn’t have read this article right before lunch though, ’cause now I’m VERY hungry…

    • DL

      I forgot to ask: You guys have a 10-day week?

      • Donald Ash

        No, no, sorry about that, I should’ve explained. School is still Monday to Friday, I just took pictures from two random weeks of school lunch.

    • Donald Ash

      Yeah, pics of food do it to me, too. Aw man, I wasn’t trying to torture you before lunch. Stay strong, DL!

  • Nanami

    I enjoy Japanese food alot. The day-tod-day dishes seem to be really good and healthy too. I made gyoza last night from scratch and it turned out yummy. Does that count?? I has pictures..!

    • Donald Ash

      That absolutely counts! Gyoza are sooooooo GOOD!

  • AccessJ

    Cool post. It was fun to compare what I ate with another prefecture. :) How deep are those rice dishes? Ours came in a big pot and the kids dished it out. The girls all refused to eat more than four bites, so the boys’ bowls were always LOADED with way too much rice. http://www.accessj.com/2010/10/5-random-school-lunches-from-japan.html

    • Donald Ash

      Niiiicee! I really enjoyed your photos Access J. There are quite a few similarities, huh? The rice dishes? I don’t remember exactly, but I’d say about an inch deep or thereabouts. It wasn’t all the girls at my elementary school, but many of them didn’t eat so much either, especially as you start to go up in grade level. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Jennifer

    This is amazing! What a great pictorial! Thank you! This is why most children in US are obese and have diabetes. It’s so sad…

    • ugh

      I ate pizza and chicken nuggets and old oranges in school. I was never fat. There is something else wrong with the big picture. Sheesh.

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