Oh, The Nostalgia! Care To Try a Japanese School Lunch?

What is "Kyushoku"?

Have you ever seen scenes in Japanese anime where students in white robes serve food to their classmates during lunchtime? That’s kyushoku (school lunch), a system implemented in almost all elementary and middle schools in Japan. It is said to have begun in the late 19th century as a way to provide all children the opportunity to eat nutritious meals.

Being from Taiwan, I also started to get curious about Japanese school lunches after watching anime. Upon coming to Japan, I got the impression that school lunches were a profoundly memorable experience for more people than I had imagined. Let’s take an in-depth look at the Japanese school lunches I thought were particularly intriguing!

Not all school lunches are the same?!

Even within Japan, there are a lot of regional differences when it comes to school lunches. Typical lunch menus include fried bread, soft noodles, and milk, but there are menus with an added local touch which include dishes made with ingredients found only in those regions. School lunches also serve the purpose of showcasing the local charm and culture to the children. We got to hear many memorable stories about school lunches from the att.JAPAN Editorial Team!

From Okayama Prefecture:

Soft noodles were a typical lunch meal. We used to take them out of their packaging and mix them with meat sauce. Another fond lunch memory of mine is how we used the paper caps from the milk bottles to play menko (a traditional Japanese game)!

From Chiba Prefecture:

In Chiba Prefecture—the No.1 producer of peanuts—they used to serve the local miso peanut dish, commonly known as “miso pea,” for lunch. The sweet and salty combination of miso and peanuts was perfection!

From Shizuoka Prefecture:

Shizuoka Prefecture is one of Japan’s largest green tea producers, making up roughly 40% of the country’s tea plantation estate. Aside from milk cartons, we also had tea served in kettles.

From Tokushima Prefecture:

Our local dish, sobagomejiru (buckwheat porridge) was served for lunch. It is a comforting, gently seasoned porridge made with sobagome (dehulled buckwheat) prepared by drying and peeling buckwheat which is boiled in saltwater. The sobagome is then simmered in broth along with vegetables and meat.



If you want to experience Japanese school lunches...

Why not try some for yourself?

Even if you went to school in Japan, you rarely get the chance to eat school lunches as adults. Here, we’ll introduce three restaurants where you can try classic school lunches found throughout Japan!

Private Izakaya: Rokunen Yonkumi (Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya)

This izakaya franchise will transport you back to school. Inside, you’ll find a Japanese elementary school replicated to the last detail, even the hallways.

You can enjoy soft noodles and other popular lunch menu items, and why not take a commemorative photo sporting a randoseru backpack? There are “bunko” brunch campuses (branch restaurants) in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya, and are all easily accessible – within walking distance from the station.

The otoshi (small welcome dish) are all-you-can-eat Japanese snacks (530 yen/tax excluded)!

【Shibuya Campus】

Address 4F Assorti Shibuya, 32-12 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Access 5-minute walk from Shibuya Sta.
Business hours (Weekdays) 17:00-23:30, (Weekends and holidays) 12:00-23:00
Regular holiday Open 365 days
URL https://www.6nen4kumi.com/

Oishii Gakkou (Hokuto City, Yamanashi Prefecture)

Enjoy a Japanese school lunch from the good ol’ days while you sit at a timber school desk inside the classroom of a wooden Showa era (mid-20th century) school building.

Even the plates are the same ones formerly used at the school. For lunch and dinner, you have a choice of curry rice, stew, koppepan (bread rolls), and hoto noodles – a Yamanashi specialty. After 2:30 p.m., you can use the restaurant as a cafe.

Address 3058 Shimotsugane, Sutamacho, Hokuto City, Yamanashi
Access 20 minutes by taxi from Kiyosato Sta.
Business hours 11:30-14:30 / 17:30-20:00 (please check the website for winter opening hours)
Regular holiday Wednesdays
URL http://www.oec-net.ne.jp/en/

Cafe Bar BOULEVARD (Bungotakada City, Oita Prefecture)

From fried bread to napolitan (Japanese ketchup pasta), you will find standard school lunch menus served on classic aluminum lunch trays. You can casually stop by for coffee – not just for a meal. The popular fried bread is also available for takeout, so you can munch on it while strolling down the retro “Showa no Machi” shopping street.

Address 3-992-23 Shinmachi, Bungotakada City, Oita
Access 1-minute walk after disembarking the bus at Bungotakada
Business hours 10:00-17:00 *Reservations required for dinner
Regular holiday Irregular holidays
URL https://www.city.bungotakada.oita.jp/site/showanomachi/1232.html

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The information herein is as of June 2023

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