World’s Best School Lunch ★ ONLY in JAPAN

Japanese School Lunch Experience
Created and Produced by John Daub
Japanese schools have a reputation for serving up
some of the world’s best lunches.
Japan has a very low child obesity rate
which made me wonder what kids are actually eating here.
Non-students can’t eat at a Japanese elementary school so –
I found the next best thing.
This is Kyushoku Toban which literally means
“school lunch duty!”
It’s a restaurant which serves authentic Japanese school lunches
and a great place to try out a lot of things.
Inside on the first floor,
it looks like a normal restaurant in Japan.
But if you go up to the second floor … you’re in for a surprise.
This is a Japanese school themed restaurant!
This place is really cool because it gives you a chance to eat
Japanese elementary school food
which we can’t do normally because ー
we can’t go to a Japanese elementary school.
and joining me on this report to help explain
the Japanese point of view is …
Wow Look! That blackboard! This desk!
So nostalgic!
Oh, I’m sorry about that.
Hi, I’m Misato.
The second floor is a 5th grade classroom
with a lot of the same interior items you find at many Japanese schools
from the wall clocks
to the small desks and backpacks
to the classroom duty wheel.
The menu has some photos
and there are recommended courses.
Misato and I places our order.
The agepan or fried sweet baked bread is a Japanese school lunch regular
that is simple to make.
It starts with a plain long baked bun
that is placed in hot oil.
It’s not dunked so it doesn’t get saturated in oil.
It just floats there like a boat!
Flip it to cook the bottom.
Japanese school lunch calories are well regulated.
This entrée was developed right after World War 2
to increase the daily caloric intake of students
at an affordable price.
It’s traditionally covered in sugar
and a topping like kinako, roasted soybean powder.
To older Japanese, it’s a nostalgic food they can share with their kids
and still on many school lunch menus today.
Kubota-san and the staff prepare our order.
At Japanese schools, everyone eats the same thing.
Kids don’t have a choice,
but here, there’s a menu and they’ve got to be ready for any order.
They sometimes have regional school foods off menu
so ask if you’re curious about something.
Rice, miso soup, noodles, meat sauce and curry or stew.
The order is placed on a tray and taken to us on the second floor classroom.
The classroom was starting to smell a whole lot better!
Before eating, you have to do one important thing.
Say ITADAKIMASU or Bon Appetit!
So, what’s the deal with Japanese school lunches?
The Japanese School Lunch program started in 1954 nationwide.
Before that, kids brought a bento to school.
Caloric intake and nutrition value is regulated for every scheduled meal.
Kids can’t chose what they want to eat.
Everyone eats the same thing.
If they hate something, you still have to eat it
or stay until you do.
There’s no cafetreria in Japanese elementary schools.
Kids eat in the classroom
and there’s no sushi, for safety reasons.
Milk is served with every meal.
Meals are paid for each month by parents
which usually cost around $40 to $60 a month.
Nearly all ingredients are locally produced
with meals usually made from scratch.
Learning about nutrition starts with what kids eat in their own lunches.
Are your schools the same way?
Here’s the ultimate school lunch!
A little of everything.
Soup, meat sauce, curry stew, salad, and noodles with agepan and milk.
These noodles are called SOFTMEN.
Curry rice is a school lunch favorite.
A side of miso soup.
Here’s one with a pasta salad,
vegetable soup and rice with furikake flavoring.
and agepan, of course.
Furikake here is seaweed, a little salt and sesame.
Here, the softmen is accompanied by meat sauce and a salad.
Here’s a controversial one. Whale.
It’s not served these days in schools
but it’s possible to get a little here.
Whale was cheaper than beef and chicken
and could feed thousands, nothing ever wasted.
A frozen mikan orange for dessert.
Kids sometimes cant use chopsticks so –
there’s a SPORK!
Who doesn’t love a spork.
Wow! Check this out!
So what do you think of Japanese school lunch?
This looks really good!
So this is an authentic Japanese lunch.
This looks like the real thing, right?
It’s really similar!
Misato has softmen and meat sauce with dessert.
What’s this?
Well, it’s called softmen. Ramen? Softmen.
What’s different about it?
Well …
The one I remember eating was a little thicker
but it’s not udon. It’s not ramen.
It’s kind of unusual.
It’s softmen.
I love softmen!
It comes cooked in the pack.
Misato likes to cut it up with her fingers,
smooshing it like this
then eating it in the meat sauce.
After she divides it up, she opens the pack.
Her style is to eat it directly out of it like this.
Dip it in the sauce. Cover it really good.
To get more sauce, open up the softmen like this.
And eat!
Of course it’s good!
Maybe even better than spaghetti?
I’ve gotten into a little trouble with mine.
Agepan is a main dish – and it’s a little messy.
I can imagine kids everywhere have the same problem.
Your mouth is filthy, isn’t it?
Agepan is just filled with sugar!
and Kinako!
But when it’s loaded with kinako. it’s super good!
Yeah, it IS really good but it just doesn’t seem healthy to me.
Mine came with a curry stew and salad. I’m confused.
Is agepan the dessert?!
It’s dessert, right?
No, it’s not!
Come on! It’s like a donut!
It;s got sugar, kinako, fried bread …
It’s dessert!
So you eat dessert first?
Agepan isn’t dessert (you fool!)
It’s food. The main course.
I’m started to like Japanese school.
There’s the milk.
It’s served in glass bottles here but in schools,
it comes in cartons.
On special days, kids got this flavored powder.
I chose strawberry over caramel, coffee and chocolate.
Simple put it in the milk like this
and stir it until it turns pink.
Yes, delicious!
All in all, a great lunch!
It really was a unique experience to eat a school lunch
in a classroom like this.
Mr Seiichi is my 96 year old neighbor
and I came to ask him what he ate as a student
before World War 2.
Noriben (Roasted Seaweed Lunchbox)
This is a convenient store noriben.
Rice, a little soy sauce and fish flake with roasted seaweed on top.
Today’s noriben comes with luxurious fried foods on top,
not the noriben Mr Seiichi’s ate in his school days.
It starts with rice
then top it with seaweed
Katsuobushi (fish flakes) on top
then add another layer of seaweed.
They didn’t have a school lunch?
That’s right. They didn’t have it.
School lunches started after the war.
Before, we had a big piece of seaweed
roasted, put it in the box
then a layer of rice on that
and another piece of seaweed.
What did you drink?
Did you drink milk?
No! No! No! No! No!
Milk was a luxury item
Did you eat a noriben everyday?
I think so. Everyday, yes.
Because other things …
… we just didn’t have it.
(We didn’t have many) things to eat.
So you only had noriben for lunch.
Well, we also had sardines. Iwashi.
We had sardines
That’s about it.
The sardines were dried.
Did you eat any vegetables?
Vegetables … well, they were expensive.
Back in the day, bentos were prepared in metal boxes
which roasted on top of the old daruma stoves.
In the classroom, you could smell the bentos.
There were so many of them!
Probably smelled so good, right?
It really did.
Next to recess, school lunches are the best part of any kids day
and that’s what Kyushoku toban is all about.
Those smiles.
Food brings people together no matter your age.
Kubota-san has been working here for a long time
and I wanted to know the recipe to its success.
School lunches … when we were
elementary and junior high school students
everyone had a lot of fun.
At the time, everyone ate with a smile.
From that. we wanted to make this place.
I have to agree.
I can now see what makes Japanese school lunches so amazing.
If you want to be a Japanese student again
or let’s say a transfer student from a place far away,
this is where you can experience it a little
and have a great lunch too.
Next time: The Japanese Manhole Uncovered
I go to a factory to see how they are made
and why they have such designs.
We go all over the country.
Thank you so much for watching. If you
liked it, hit that SUBSCRIBE BUTTON 🙂
and watch another one of ONLY in JAPAN’s shows.
Produced by John Daub
Follow me on Instagram: onlyinjapantv


  1. A few days after you posted this video, I showed it to a class of fourth graders in the United States, and they loved it, especially seeing the differences between here and schools in Japan.
    Keep those videos coming! They are wonderfully informative and provide an easy way to learn interesting things about Japanese culture.

  2. So did you visit all countries and did try all school lunches ? With title like this I would like to say be honest with people. I understand you want make money on YouTube but because of this title I don’t trust you

  3. いつも見てます(*´∀`*)





  4. I went to preschool in Japan, I wish I remembered more from it but from what I do remember it was really cool! Sometimes in recess they’d let us swim in a pool

  5. Ha, I mustn't show this video to my children because they would say: "The old man never ate vegetables when he was a child, yet he has lived to sea 97 years of age, and mom, you keep telling us vegetables are vital!" – I wouldn't have a response to that… lol.

  6. Why can't japanese eat something else other than whale such a beautiful creature is on verge of extinction

  7. 60%= omggg Seiichi is 96 years old but he looks soooo young🤯😮
    39%= i wish my school could be like that😔
    1%=im hungry

  8. Ukraine also has one of the best healthy lunches in its school system for kids and students, very similar to Japan.

  9. School lunches here in California are sometime good or bad. At my school a lot of times the lunches are terrible. Except for only these.
    – chicken bowl
    Mashed potatoes, corn, cheese. Breaded chicken
    – mozzarella sticks
    Bread sticks literally oozing with cheese
    And that’s it

  10. My mum couldn’t afford much so we at a school lunch and although 99 percent of the food was fantastic the only one item I didn’t like was there mashed tatties, there wasn’t much if any salt in them and yeah. I know too much salt is bad for you but this was the60s and 70ts, oops I forgot to mention tapioca or as we called it in Aberdeen frog spawn

  11. 3:56
    So you have to eat everything? What if you had allergens to any of the food, or what if you were lactose intolerant?

  12. Who eats in the classroom!!?? Should have atleast been a replica diner hall or something………

    My bad i just got to 3:50 and it answered my question lol.

  13. I remember when I went to Japanese school and was amazed by the school lunch it was a step up from cardboard pizza and tasteless apples

  14. Meanwhile in America we have some plastic Mac and cheese, some hard bread , vegetables that taste like nothing and don’t forget the rock hard smiley face French fries

  15. No duh it’s good in my opinion every Japanese food is good! Sushi is my fav! American school lunch is bad… GO JAPAN 🇯🇵

  16. How it should be in the states. 25 to 99.9 % are over weight lil lards. Most are the parents fault though.

  17. Here in indonesia we must buy the food, some good some bad and some students like to bring their own food

  18. The school lunches look like a lot of carbs for the low calories. Healthier than a lot of American schools, to be sure. I'm American, and I eat healthy. No refined sugars and starches, no deep fried, but definitely no dried fish or seaweed. Matter of choices within opportunities. Why the buildings in this all so dark? They prefer few windows?

  19. America lunch: HAMBURGER, chocolate/normal milk, fruit

    Japan lunch: CURRY, milk, Softmen and much others

    I live in America, trust me I starve at school

  20. I love the fact that they cant choose their food or waste it. Absolutely love it. Japan does this so right.

  21. Wait $40 – $60 USD per month for a near restaurant quality fresh lunch in your school?! Many elementary school students in North America spend that much every 2 weeks or every month on vending machines and snacks. Japanese school students get wholesome meals while North American school students get sugar rushes and confectionary convenience. Glad one country, such as Japan, has their priorities straight while the rest of the world battle childhood obesity.

  22. see how respectful he was. still kept his hand behind while speaking to other. 96 years and still in full discipline.

  23. Parents pay for their kids food… The way it should be… So many entitled people in the USA demand their kids food be free…

  24. I don't agree anyone should have to eat what they don't like. I'd end up never leaving the cafeteria if that's the rule.

  25. I have been really excited to try this place since I saw you video. I finally planned my trip to Japan, and noticed this place is permanently closed. 😥I cant believe it. So bummed, I wanted to try that softmen noodle and anpan sugary bread.

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