What School Lunch Looks Like In Japan

Jun 16, 2016 By Michael W. Pirrone

We’re all human beings. We all eat, sleep, and love and care for our children. But around the world, different cultures can have different definitions for certain things, including what caring for children looks like. In most of the world, education is certainly one aspect of caring for our kids. It’s not only useful in keeping them safe, it helps prepare them to be adults.

But what does education look like around the world? Well, in many ways it’s very much the same as it is anywhere else. In American schools, we teach our kids to read and write. In Japanese schools, they do the same. We have gym class; they have gym class. We have band practice; they have band practice.

When it comes to lunchtime, though, the public schools in Japan do things pretty differently. You see, they don’t view lunch as a “break” from school, but just as much a part of their education as anything else. So, after thanking their teacher for teaching them, the students head downstairs and begin bringing serving dishes and other items right up to their classroom. Assigned students then serve the other children before sitting down to eat themselves. Their teacher eats with them, but also informs them about their meal. When they’re finished, they spend a little time afterward cleaning up their dishes, the classroom, and even the hallways. In fact, most Japanese schools only employ adults for more potentially hazardous work like building maintenance and biohazard sanitation.

The service and cleaning portions are meant to teach students how to work together, but also how to be responsible for one’s own life. After all, when a student arrives in a dorm room in college, they won’t have a janitor showing up to vacuum their floors or wash their clothes.

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