Japan’s mouthwatering school lunch program is a model for the rest of the world

Japanese school lunches aren’t synonymous with “mystery meat,” but rather, shokuiku. It means “food and nutrition education,” and it’s a vital part of the Japanese child’s early education.

Beginning in elementary school, kids come to understand that what you put into your body matters a great deal in how you think and feel throughout the day — and how you go about your life.

As a country, Japan prioritizes school lunch. If parents can’t front the $2.50 cost of a meal, free and reduced lunch programs help kids stay full.

“Japan’s standpoint is that school lunches are a part of education,” Masahiro Oji, a government director of school health education, told the Washington Post in 2013, “not a break from it.”

Here’s what it looks like to be one of the global leaders in lunchtime.

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 ​​​​​​​Japanese school lunches

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Lunchtime in Japanese primary schools is almost sacred. It isn’t hurried or hasty — kids get the time just to sit and eat.

(Toru Hanai / Reuters)

Kids serve one another in an effort to reinforce a culture of self-sufficiency. In many schools, there is no janitor. Kids…

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