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.

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100 Responses

  1. Life Where I'm From says:

    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. Emanuel Castillo says:

    If boomers were raised like this maybe they wouldn't leave their tables so disgusting wherever they eat.

  3. greenbanana1001 says:

    Meanwhile when I was In school in the uk it was either turkey twizzlers or pizza shoved down our throats at all times…

  4. Josue Villasante says:

    5:56 OMG how old are you,, little Japanese nutritionist. YOU ARE SOOO CUTE.

  5. Dax arms says:

    Japanese school children eat like kings compared to American schoolchildren

  6. Dax arms says:

    American School administrators can afford to take a page out of the Japanese school luncheon program

  7. frisco says:

    They all got their masks on even in warm weather with short sleeves. Bit over doing it?

  8. Mori Brown says:

    What I really love about Japanese is that they are so organized and smart people. They are so respectful even kids. My respect and love to these nation. 🙂

  9. xMiscStarx3 says:

    Australia: pies, chocolates, packet chips, nachos yep at 1 point the college served apples or well bring ur own lunch well i hav to say i wish i had grown up in japan

  10. Lounge E says:

    I can eat that as my lunch at least 3 times per week. Not too shabby foods and at least healthy. The serving is too little for me because they serve it to children.

  11. cass ava says:

    How many hours the student spend the time along at school

  12. Old timer hot shot says:

    I was 8 years old in Japan in 1968. We American kids went to a local Japanese school off base for field trip. I specifically remember the cooking of giant mounds of the most delicious smelling noodles. I absolutely love Yakisoba even to this day. Schools were much different looking back then. But I do remember the children were dressed in uniform had leather back backs and were very well behaved . Much better than us I think.

  13. 6OJlbWA9l_WuWKA says:

    Хм таким способом прививают уважение к еде и труду поваров это очень хорошо !

  14. Nick Lounsbury says:

    I've never seen a school where the students serve each other lunch. It just seems so bizarre to me from an American standpoint.

    Edit:And the principal taste-testing the food himself before students eat it crazy too.

    Edit 2: And how do they make school lunches that are only 261 yen (~2.50 USD) that is also healthy and tastes good?

    Edit 3: Also students and the teacher brush their teeth in class after a meal? Damn, Japan is super organized. I also find it crazy that they spend so much time making kids serve the food and clean up and brush their teeth for lunch break. Wouldn't that take up a lot of time?

  15. すゆ says:

    When I was in school, I was served many kinds of food. So I’m not picky eater now:)

  16. Chris Sean says:

    My kids ain’t doing this . I ain’t paying taxes so my kids get to work. They in school to learn.

  17. doofy perry says:

    Most comments here blaming the school in America for not provides this to the students but it needs to be mentioned that the school in Japan only pay for the staff and the establishment. The parents are the ones who pay for the foods. I'm not saying the school is faultless but the parents need to contribute to if they want their children grow up like the Japanese.

  18. ĢAME MASTEŘ says:

    Japenese is the best country to live in if want a healthy life.

  19. yukke2999 says:


  20. generasi idiot says:

    Kuwabara sensei so cute

  21. Crimson Tangerines says:

    Yet kids in the USA get meals taken away. Our country is letting our children fail.

  22. MUHAMMED KH says:

    2:05 looks like surgery room 😀😀😀

  23. theTongueTwister Guy says:

    gureen peasu.

  24. tuti kanin says:


  25. ahtan2000 says:

    The nutritionist seems to really care… ❤️

  26. RAR6 says:

    im 21 years old, and i dont mind at all if i eat those school lunch every single day

  27. Julian says:

    I would have actually stayed in school if I had these lunches. they would have been more of a motivation to attend classes

  28. chino soto says:

    The nutritionist is pretty

  29. Rae Lee says:

    ketchup is literally a vegetable in america

  30. あるふぁ。Aq says:


  31. The Road to Cosplay and Comic Con says:


  32. M Dwi Kurnia Lubis says:

    In Indonesia each child normally given pocket money which around 10k to 15k rupiah, that translate roughly around 70 cent to 1.07 cent or so.
    So rich kid get nice food, and less fortunate kid get crap sometimes they don't eat or eat junk food.
    The food itself tend to be ranging between unhealthy or lacking in nourishment unless you paid more for it. I remember only getting like 1k-2k rupiah when it was 10 years ago as 1k rupiah literally only gives you a single 100gram junk food which roughly around 0.125 cent USD.

    Typically some kid bring their own lunch for home but not all parents has time to prepare the meal. What about the kid? Well same as the parents and they mostly don't even know how to cook.

    School Lunch obviously going to be vary in each country and I am sure as someone who live in a developing country. There is a huge contrast between Modern Country and developing one.

  33. Zero Danger says:

    Bruh, my country doesn't even have school lunches like that. We usually go to the canteen and spend our money there since elementary.

  34. Jeel Eso says:

    Isang malaking SANAOL

  35. Hay Wing Pong says:

    That's why Japan has produced a relatively high quality of nationals on the whole in Asia, abeit I know there are much imperfection in many other cultural aspects of that country too.

  36. Mr. Person Humanson says:

    The nutritionist looks like she's not even out of highschool yet

  37. Rolando Cuayzon says:

    Japanese are discipline and respectful!!

  38. MrCreepjo says:

    Their school are big but it looks like my country playgroup/ nursery

  39. -- says:

    Wow, Kuwabara sensei was really kind and helpful, it was really great and educating to see such a different school lunch system! 🙂

  40. Goos says:

    My school doesn't even provide lunch. You gotta bring your own food. We don't even have a cafeteria/canteen where you can buy food

  41. Elios0000 says:

    US schools could learn from this

  42. urotsokidoji69 says:

    I'm in love with the nutritionist. 😍

  43. Ryu nasdang says:

    Kapan di INDONESIA bisa seperti ini…#sangatberharap

  44. Sonila Kar says:

    Not a single obese kid

  45. Plus Size Princess says:

    I.wish i can send my 8 year old daughter in this kind of from Philippines

  46. sonickchri says:

    Those school lunches look so much more appetizing to me now than the garbage I remember them serving in grade school (especially elementary school) lunches in here in the US. Except maybe the sub sandwiches I ate everyday in high school, those were pretty dang good.

    No, actually these are better overall. They seem more fresh with definitely a lot less processed trash. Much more nutritional, too.

  47. AleB says:

    In my school we didn't have lunch but we had stores that spelled junk food so it was better is you bring lunch from homw

  48. Louise Coffey says:

    Eating McDonald’s while watching this 🙈

  49. b. b. says:

    In the US we get frozen pizza that may or may not contain real cheese. We also get hamburgers that may or may not contain real meat.

  50. my life says:

    Kyushuku program is nice

  51. CrazyMonkey 0117 says:

    The meal planner lady is really pretty, she's cute

  52. Elfan Virnandi says:

    thanks for Indonesia Sub..

  53. Kalvus says:

    America has gotta take some notes from japan ngl

  54. boss Ambedkarite says:

    Japan: we should give kids healthy lunch.
    India: 1lt of milk is enough for one school.

  55. linda yang says:

    I love how well thought out their meals are. It should their community really cares about the kids.

  56. gabe says:

    my school has homophobic and racist teachers. not exactly sure if things are much different in japan, xenophobia towards foreigners etc., but they sure seem to care a lot more about their students than teachers in my district.

    i live in the sacramento area, in california. why are things so bad here?

  57. Peaceful Kitchen says:

    Love this country💕💕💕

  58. Sentinel says:

    @5:23 wow the principal gets the first bite sounds kinda badass. like these children are mine and if this food is badly prepared or poison I will be the one to die first for them.

  59. Synchronized Shuffle says:

    Meanwhile in America, school lunches are frozen pizzas, fries, and chicken nuggets. School lunch over here is frozen reheated garbage, that’s why I bring my own.

  60. 이윤중 says:

    Nuclear lunch detect!!

  61. Ashton Lyons says:

    Anyone remember those “uncrustables”? It was the healthiest thing about my school lunch menu

  62. Mr Reedling says:

    That looks delicios for being school food. In sweden the school food is litterally the most disgustang thing in the entire world

  63. Anushree Das says:

    We have many institutions which feed the people in India. The government policy for school children is commonly known as "mid-day meal". In some states like West Bengal they serve eggs and meat too, even though the budget allotted is very small. Mid day meals have actually help in decreasing the %of school dropouts and also malnutrition and anemia, which was very high initially. India also has many non-government organizations like Akshaya Patra who are excellent, and are known worldwide. Also we have a whole system of feeding any human being regardless of his/her background, free of cost, which our Sikh Guru Nanak Sahib ji started. Similar setup is organized by others spiritual organizations like the Ramakrishna Math and Mission started by Swami Vivekananda.

  64. Übermensch says:

    This is what Homogeneity of race and culture and high IQ gets you.

  65. Sebastian Santillana says:

    Porque youtube me recomienda videos que ya vi 😠☹

  66. bebeprawns says:

    More than anything, I am surprised the classrooms don't have any walls and yet the kids are so well-behaved and civilised. Pretty sure it would be a recipe for disaster anywhere else.

  67. Mansi ghanekar says:

    how can people dislike this video? what for?

  68. Neshe Pooh says:

    The lunches look very nutritious 😃and way better than what my kids ate at public schools in the us my kids are now home school so they are happy to be able to eat home cooked meals now they would always say they felt sick after eating at school so I don’t have to deal with that no more.

  69. L A says:

    this is amazing 100000graduate

  70. B Andersen says:

    Student says: "Teacher, the camera is facing toward you. Make a face like this…" Teacher: "I would not do such a bad mannered thing." <<USA hangs its head in shame to think how things are done here>>

  71. Giezel Entong says:

    sila nag lilinis ng roon nila sobrang linis ng gawa sa pilipinas yan paunahan umuwi mga cleaners hahaha

  72. COco Yo yo says:

    Japanese prisons has better food than our schools here in the US.

  73. David C. says:

    I think this is awesome. How these kids put the needs of everyone first. These schools are great. It would be great if American kids were like this, but that would never happen.

  74. saravis56 says:

    Wonderful lunch!

  75. Oktaviando Huwa says:

    The next actor JAV

  76. Abisatya says:

    My school didnt even provide lunch. We scattered everywhere to get ourself lunches. Healthy or not, if its food we'll dig in.

  77. Petrichor says:

    We dont even have school lunch, when its break time we just go to the abang bakso or batagor wkwkw

  78. Mariya Yushkova says:

    If anyone of y’all could see school lunches in Russia 🤣 this is really horrible 😭 our parents also had to pay for lunches

  79. Arthur John Ashley Bernabe says:

    The nutritionist is so kawaii im in love

  80. Roses City says:

    In my country food also make from scratch.. but food court style.. u pay 4 what u eat tht day.. so students can choose their lunch meal, or bring their meal from home..

  81. Deku fan says:

    ( In Philippines if lunchtime you can go home (if its near)
    Or lunch in school or Karenderia
    I'm always going home when lunchtime🙂
    In Karenderia there's many choices of food
    But if you lunch in school
    Some students have bring there lunch) some classmates in my school go to Jollibee (because its near in school) after they eat lunch some of my classmate hang out (idk)

  82. MsLovegoddess says:

    Wow i'm a nutritionist and I feel so proud of her working in that school. Planning and making cycle menus and calculates enough nutrition intake of each student. Wow good job! ❤️

  83. James_Maverick Mendoza says:

    This is so nice

  84. holdmybeer says:

    we ate awesome food in the schools i went to in the US. too many people generalizing.

  85. Gisselle says:

    Now if the US were to be like this, there would be less obesity here.

  86. TortafritaNinja says:

    Japan: they made food and eat all together

    Argentina: They sell panchos and other shitty stuf for a lot of money that we don't have.

  87. 反社会的 Weeb Trash says:

    This food looks like it belongs in a 4 star restaurant, not a school. When I was those kids age I was eating cold chicken nuggets and runny potatoes on a good day.

  88. FlowerofDissolution says:

    The history of school lunches is very similar in my country. Originally it was a benefit for poor students, then it spread do include all students nationwide. It's tax-payer funded like school fees themselves, dental care for children, so it's free for all. We don't have to serve ourselves nor do we eat lunch in the classroom but in a cafeteria. But, the children do help out in the kitchen with the veggie prep.

    Since then we've improved the concept even further. Nowadays there are extensive vegetable sides to all lunches, vegetarian and vegan alternatives or dishes catering to other food needs, allergic or religious. There've also been trials of serving breakfast, with much of the same pedagogical succéss in that the poorest children tend to get neglected and have the most benefit if the school provides food to help them get through a long school day of learning.

  89. matty brother05 says:

    Good 😀 Thank yoo vidéo super love

  90. Mathilde Wesendonck says:

    I like that they have a balanced menu, and don‘t eat so much meat

  91. Hi People says:

    In indonesia?OMG

  92. Huong Ho says:

    Damn iv always wanted to live in Japan so bad

  93. Esmeralda De Leon says:

    Is this a private school or all public schools have these type of lunch?

  94. Lord Gremlin says:

    I'm jealous but they very well deserve it, such helpful students

  95. Liuhuayue says:

    6:10 261 yen per meal? That's quite affordable, and yet, this all looks pretty nutritious and healthy. The food is mostly made from scratch, no less! Some countries are definitely doing it wrong.

  96. JH says:

    I miss my Kyushoku-days in Japan!
    It was everyone’s favorite time in school days XD

  97. mino meow says:

    Пожалуй это лучшая система образования.

  98. Александр Иванов says:

    Они охренели там у себя в Японии? Я в школе вообще не ел

  99. arbaidi abay says:

    Ini yang harus dicontoh indonesia,, jgn full time tp gak ada makan siang,, anak2 pada kelaparan bagaimana bisa nerima ilmu yg disampaikan kalo lapar,, menggarap org tua jajanin anak mana mgkin dengan keungan kita sekarang tambah ekonomi masyarakat semakain menurun harga karet masih harga minimum,,dibawah standar

  100. Lalys CV says:

    Wow!! The menú Japan's is the best!! I love his food,and the most important on the school is the child care about nutrition.
    I from México!!

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