- Kenchin Udon (Udon, Bamboo Shoot, Spinach, Shimeji Mushrooms, Bean Curd, Carrot, Daikon Radishes, Green Onion, Plum Gluten, Konnyaku)
- Local Squash and Mincemeat Fry
- Baked Pudding Tart
- Kcal: 724
A Year of Japanese School Lunch
February 4th, Monday:
Today is Risshun, the first day of Spring. The first Southern wind after Risshun is called “Spring No. 1″（春一番）When will Spring actually come to Hokkaido, I wonder…
Today, I have a cold. But at least it’s not influenza. So many students were absent from my class today, that the remaining students couldn’t eat all the meatballs, despite having seconds.
The other thing interesting today at lunch was the student across from me forgot his chopsticks. Instead of borrowing from the teacher, he decided obtain two of the milk straws and ate his entire lunch with them. It was amusing, but he succeeded in completely cleaning his plate.
January 28th, Monday:
Meat contains lots of protein which we need to build our muscles and bones. It cannot be done without to make a healthy body while we are growing. It also is useful for recovering from fatigue and preventing anemia.
I don’t really eat meat (outside of school lunch), so obviously I don’t really see its necessity in one’s diet. In fact I grew up not eating meat (pork and beef, but we ate chicken), and haven’t suffered worse for it. Actually, I am a little short for a haole person, but that is a fact which ① I am immensely grateful for and ② is probably genetic because my grandmother and aunt are both shorter than I. That said, some source of protein is important.
Something I am concerned about is the unsustainablity of the modern world’s eating habits. This includes eating so much meat, over eating in general, eating non local/out of season foods, and throwing away uneaten but still perfectly good foods.
For this reason, I feel really bad that not only did I leave half my rice uneaten as usual (for I really can’t eat that much food!) but also hardly touched my Spinach Jaco Salad, for the merely selfish reason of I hate Jaco. Now, Jaco look weird and have a strong taste, but that would not be enough of a detest them as I do. The true reason I hate Jaco–and I think this is a very good reason and one that fully justifies my reluctance to put them anywhere near my mouth–is that they look like goa’uld.
Goa’uld are lovely little parasite aliens that enter their hosts through the mouth or neck and burrow themselves into the brain. My Japanese students may be innocently unaware of these malicious creatures and therefore able to stomach mouthfuls of goa’uld like Jaco… but I cannot. The psychological strain is simply too much. And if you compare the photoes below, you too will begin to wonder how long the Japanese will remain free from the Goa’ulds parasitic control.
Actually, I have a theory. The Japanese started eating Jaco goa’uld babies long ago in order to develop a resistance against full grown goa’uld parasitism, and that is reason the host of the only Japanese-ish goa’uld overlord is clearly not of Japanese descent:
October 29th, Monday:
The history of milk in Japan is old, extending about 1400 years ago. It was treated as a precious medicine, and it’s high nutritional value was known from old.
This weekend was the annual community Halloween party we hold in conjunction with the public library. Unfortunately I caught a cold and felt rather poorly, but that aside it was a nice success. In the morning we had carnival style games, including ring toss, bean bag toss, a relay racing game, and shooting gallery, as well as a table for colouring and origami. Before lunch we had the costume parade, which prizes for everyone who dressed up, and in the afternoon, the haunted house. The haunted house has become really popular, with too many kids wanting to go through than we have time for. That being said, it was quite scary with a lot of kids breaking into tears and wails. I enjoy the haunted house the most because as a ghost it means I can dress up in historical clothing and practice my classical Japanese. And really, that is the sort of thing I like to do.
Relatedly, I noticed an interesting thing about some of the children’s reactions. The younger kids, if overly frightened merely cry, but often the older kids, when frightened would close their eyes and say 「ごんなさい！許してください！!」or “I’m so sorry! Please forgive me!!” I was wondering why they might say that to ghost. I think it is an unconsious reaction of theirs, but my theory is it is due to the influence of buddhism, specifically, the concept of karma. Maybe they feel the ghosts are punishing them for some sort of bad deeds in their past life.
That said, I did have a couple sweet little girls who politely asked my ghost persona for directions as well as kindly trying to address her obvious distress. うれしゅうございます<3
October 2nd, Tuesday:
Mustard Spinach is a top class source of calcium among vegetables. This is a vegetable you definitely want to eat for making strong teeth and bones.
I got tasty omiyage today!!!! My Jukai teachers are so nice. 😀
Also, fire balloons are ingenious in a way only the 1930s can be.
August 20th, Monday:
The new dish “Tofu and Miso Meat Paste Wrap” has a base of tofu and surimi with carrots and seaweed that enwrap the miso meat paste.
July 24th, Tuesday:
The “German” in “German Potato” means “Duits”. The German Potato is a a potato dish made in Germany.
A hearty lunch and German Potato is so tasty! Kyuushoku Center knows how to do tomatoes in soup right, too. A slight note on my above translation. The food “German Potato” is written exactly like that in katakana. But the normal term for “German” in Japanese is “Duits”, which is what Germany calls herself.
By the way, the oil server in my house started making unusual loud noises last night, but I figured I would wait a day or two to see if it wouldn’t stop. Today at work, I was informed someone at city hall had discovered my oil tank was leaking and kindly fixed it for me. So my problem was fixed before I even reported it. I don’t know who it was that someone was, but Thank You so much city hall person!!! I love you!
June 14th, Thursday:
One of the promises of good table manners is to not chew with your mouth open, because the very unpleasant “kuchakucha” sound. On the internet, this sound is described as “kucharaa”.
Today, I didn’t have school lunch, so I made a bento instead. What is pictured is the steam rice and takuan pickles that I packed. As okazu (side dishes) I packed last night’s chikuwa-jaga, ie: potatoes and chikuwa simmered in shoyu and mirin, and a daifuku mochi. I love daifuku mochi. They were on sale last night, so a package of eight cost a little about 60 yen. So cheap!
June 8th, Friday:
It is said that burdock root originally comes from China, where it was used as medicine. Only after that did it begin to be eaten as a normal vegetable. The fresh burdock eaten at this time of year was planted in Autumn and is called “summer burdock”.
Kinpira, which most basically consists of burdock, carrots, and sesame seeds, is a food I am quite fond of. It is surprisingly easy to cook, especially if you buy the burdock already sliced up. I like to add in surimi (yum yum!) when I make it home. It’s said that “kinpira” is named as Sakata Kintoki, who was famed from him strength and loyalty. The story of Sakata Kintoki–better known by the name of Kintarou–is a well known fairly tale in Japan. A poor boy raised by a single mother, yet as still a child, he becomes renowned for his strength through wood cutting and wrestling bears. He is noticed by a knight, and is taken into his service, to accomplish great deeds. While such stories are no longer popular, rural-born men–half outlaws, half noble knights–gaining their renown through wrestling were a common thing 200 years ago. Shichibei the Demon, who fathered the Hag of Adachigahara, immediately comes to mind, although his is a tale of caution, rather than virtue. The British story of Turin Turambar can also be counted as a tale similar to this. These outlaw knight stories are of a very different world than that described in aristocratic tales, personally easier to identify with, and one I would like to read more about. Finally, of random interest is that the main character from the Bakumatsu period anime, Gintama, is based off Sakata Kintoki.
May 29th, Tuesday:
This week, the schools have all been having their Sports Festivals (undou-kai). Anyway who is acquainted with me will surely be aware of my absolute abhorrence of anything that even smells like a “sport”. I could write an essay about the shallow meaninglessness of sports, but this is not the place. Rather, I would like to inform you about a surprising truth: I sort of enjoy (watching) the Sports Festival. Let me explain.
The Sports Festival in Japan has a long history, extending back into the glorious (and militant) Meiji Period. Students are divided up into red and white teams. Red and white are celebratory colours in Japan. If the school is large, other teams will be added, usually blue and yellow, based on Taoist colour theory (ask me for more details, I loved to talk about that). The main event of the Sports Festival is the competition between these teams in various activities. Some examples include relay race, hurdle jumping, giant ball rolling, tug-of-war, throwing bean bags in a basket, lassoing while riding a saw horse, and who can pick up the most trash within the time limit. These sorts of activities are manifold more useful and exciting than say…. volleyball. But please let me tell you about the true beauty of the Sports Festival. They are given a real meaning, completely lacking in modern sports. The teams are organized similar to vigilante outlaw groups of old. There is a commander and a vice-commander. When the commander shouts and all his followers reply “Osu!”, it is beautiful. When they march to their positions and perform the colour guard–spinning flags of their team’s colour and another painted with their chosen insignia–it is historic. When the commander throws out his long scroll, his vice-commander kneeling beside him, and yells out his challenge, how they will not again suffer the shame of defeat and will show that insolent aka-gumi what true strength is, I hear echoing the glorious deeds of the past!! –when, unlike this easy and lackluster age, life was hard but had real meaning.
In 5th grade, my grade level reenacted the American Civil War. It was absolutely wonderful. Through that, not only could we truly begin to understand the feelings and problems of our ancestors (not that I had any ancestors in the Civil War), but it is something I remember fondly even at this old age. We built battlements of newspaper stuffed trashbags and bullets of flour filled beanbags. I sewed a flag to wave triumphantly, or at least defiantly, at those bastard yankees. When the actual battle occurred, staged upon the grassy battlefield of the playground, I acted as a medic, dragging our wounded to rest beneath the shade of the stink pod trees. The Sports Festival is almost as awesome as that civil war, and it happens every year!