Hassaku Fresh

January 31st, Thursday:


  • Yakiudon (Pork, Squid, Shrimp, Cabbage, Carrot, Onion)
  • Milk
  • Scallop Dumpling
  • Hassaku Fresh
  • Kcal: 701

In winter, we can notice many types of oranges. “Hassaku” is one type. The peel is very thick, so it’s hard to remove, but the fruit is tender and very delicious.


Early Mandarin

November 15th, Thursday:

  • Salt Ramen (Pork, Bean Sprout, Bamboo Shoot, Carrot, Onion)
  • Milk
  • Lots o’ Corn Patty
  • Early Mandarin
  • Kcal: 730

Satsuma Mandarins are generally shipped out in four different periods. September to October are the very earliest mandarins, October to December are the early mandarins. From January, regular mandarins make their appearance. So right now is the time for early mandarins.


Chinese Corn Soup

October 30th, Tuesday:

  • Chinese Corn Soup (Corn, Egg, Green Onion)
  • Pasta Salad (Spaghetti, Cucumber, Tangerine)
  • Chicken and Pork Patty
  • Koppe Pan
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 707

The color of the yolk of the egg is decided by the food the chicken eats. If they eat food that is mixed with red bell peppers, the yolk becomes a deep orange colour.

Chinese corn soup is like a mix between thin corn soup and egg drop soup. It’s fairly tasty.  Pasta salad is a somewhat unappetizing mix of thick spaghetti, cucumbers, and mikan tangerines lathered in mayonnaise. In fact, the only good thing about the pasta salad is the mikan tangerines, which were unfortunately entirely missing from my salad today. But mikan and mayonnaise go surprisingly well together.

  • 中華コーンスープ
  • パスタサラダ
  • チキンとポークのハンバーグ
  • コッペパン
  • 牛乳

2 Mikan Jelly Mix

August 29th, Wednesday:

  • Curry Rice (Pork, Potato, Carrot, Onion)
  • Mame Piyo
  • 2 Mikan Jelly Mix (Mandarin Orange, Sweet Chinese Grapefruit, Gelatin Block)
  • Oven Baked Edamame and Corn Dumpling
  • kcal: 998

The 2 Mikan Jelly Mix has both Satsuma Mandarins and Sweet Chinese Grapefruit in it. It is fun to try and savour the different flavours and textures, isn’t it!

Today, we ate lunch early (after third period) since there was a bus to catch to a special presentation of the musical “The Wizard of Oz”. The message of the musical–though your hometown may have nothing but cows and wheat fields in it, it is still precious as your beloved hometown–is relevant to my students here. That said, this special schedule meant we had less than 15 minutes in which to consume our curry lunch. My relatives, when I have seen them, have commented on the lightning speed at which I now eat. I firmly blame this newly developed habit upon the fact I eat school lunch everyday. Even on a normal day, the actually time for eating is on average 15 minutes.

Anyway, Mame Piyo (lit. Bean Chirp) is the brand name of the chocolate flavoured soymilk we had in lunch today. Usually, dairy being one on the  main products of my town, normal milk is served at lunch. But on certain occasions, fruit/vegetable juice or mame piyo is served. As I’ve mentioned before, I cannot drink milk, so I am always quite happy when soymilk is served in its place. When I was student in my hometown, we were also served milk with school lunch everyday. On special occasions we did get chocolate milk. I also seem to recall there was a juice option, probably POG (ie: Passionfruit, Orange, Guava), which came in a short plastic cup, rather than a carton like the milk did.


Crystalline Dumpling

July 12th, Thursday:

  • Veggie Miso Ramen (Pork, Bean Sprout, Bamboo Shoot, Chinese Cabbage, Carrot, Onion)
  • Milk
  • Shrimp Crystalline Dumpling
  • Frozen Mandarin

Japan vies for first or second place for the country that consumes the most shrimp. The Japanese can enjoy a plentiful variety of shrimp dishes like sushi and tempura.

Koppe Pan?

  • みそ野菜ラーメン
  • 牛乳
  • えびの水晶包み
  • 冷凍みかん

Kenchin Udon

June 7th, Thursday:

  • Kenchin Udon (Udon Noodle, Bamboo Shoot, Spinach, Shimeiji Mushroom, Bean Curd, Carrot, Daikon Radish, Green Onion, Plum Gluten, Konnyaku)
  • Milk
  • Pumpkin Mochi
  • Tangerine Jelly

Konnyaku is made by solidifying mannan found in the Devil’s Tongue plant. It possesses continuing popularity as a health food due to being high in fiber and low in calories.

An essential item that few in Japan go without is a handkerchief. Most westerners associate the word “handkerchief” with a thin white square cloth used by high-class, snotty people. (I feel so Heian, using puns!)

My own introduction to the handkerchief in intermediate school when I went through a head-kerchief wearing phase. This was followed by a phase during which I wrapped a kerchief around my arm as an armband. I can’t clearly remember, but this may have been a symbol of the Elven tree gang I helped found.

Anyway, a Japanese handkerchief is usually a patterned square of thin cloth. Fine handkerchiefs, of the type usually carried by kimono dressed women, might contain embroidery or consist of two loosely woven sheets bound together at the edges. Sporty women more often carry a handkerchief of terry cloth, that might be more accurately described as a washcloth. The chief purpose of the handkerchief is to dry your hands after washing them. This is both hygienic and eco, two thing for which Japan is known. It can also be used for covering your mouth to prevent breathing in smoke in event of a fire, and probably has many other uses as well. In any case, students at school are taught that a handkerchief is an essential item to carry everyday.

Vegetable Curry Rice

June 6th, Wednesday:

  • Vegetable Curry Rice (Potato, Eggplant, Carrot, Onion, Green Bean)
  • Milk
  • Mixed Fruit Jello (Block Jelly, Pineapple, Mandarin Orange, Jello, Nata de coco)
  • Spinach Omelet

Nata de coco is made from solidified coconut milk and is a traditional food of the Philippines. By sight, it resembles kanten gelatin, but you can easily tell it’s not by the characteristic gummy texture.

Although my beloved hometown is in the tropics and coconuts were bounteous throughout my childhood, I ate nata de coco for the first time in Japan. From what I understand, it first become very popular in Japan, and nowhere else, in 1993. Today, it is no longer a fad, but has an established placed as a dessert in Japan. Nata de coco is really quite delicious and I enjoy the texture, although I could see how some people might not. It seems to be made by fermenting the coconut milk. The name comes from Spanish, meaning “cream of Coconut”.

While, I didn’t eat nata de coco as a child, I did eat my fair share of coconut pudding. They don’t resemble each other in texture at all, but they are both desserts made from coconut, so I think it counts. Coconut pudding, which is made from coconut milk, water, and sugar and thickened with starch, is far better than it’s milk-based sister for two reasons. One is that it doesn’t leave that gross residue that milk-based products do in your mouth, and the other is of course that lactose intolerant people can eat it.

Salt Ramen

May 31st, Thursday:

  • Salt Ramen (Pork, Bean Sprout, Bamboo Shoot, Onion, Carrot)
  • Milk
  • Shrimp Potstickers
  • Taiwanese Tangerine  Jello

Taiwan Tangerine is called “Shiquasa” in Okinawan. The “shi” means sour, and the “quasa” means food. It has a very refreshing scent and taste.

All children–Japanese and not–love ramen. In Hokkaido various places are famous for different types of ramen. Sapporo is famous for miso ramen, often accompanied by butter and corn. Meanwhile, Asahikawa is famous for shoyu ramen, Hakodate is famous for shio (salt) ramen, and Tomakomai for curry ramen. Asked which ramen I like the best, I usually say shoyu. However, in truth, my heart belongs to saimin. Saimin is Hawaiian ramen. It has a crab or bonito based broth with wheat noodles that use egg in place of kansui, and is garnished with green onions, kamaboko, spam, and rolled egg. Oh, and often bean sprouts and char shiu, too. It is truly delicious. Of all the school lunches of my youth, saimin day was by far my favourite, the only contender being the pastrami sandwich day.

Other interesting facts for today: Ramen was formerly called “shina soba”, that is Chinese buckwheat noodles. Also, spaghetti was called “seiyou udon”, that is Western Wheat Noodles. Finally, I wonder do most Japanese people consider the inventor of instant ramen, Momofuku Ando, Japanese?

Corn Potage

May 29th, Tuesday:

  • Corn Potage (Corn, Onion, Parsley)
  • Macaroni Salad (Macaroni Noodle, Cucumber, Tuna, Mandarin Orange)
  • Meat Dumplings in Ketchup
  • Butter Bread
  • Milk

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!

Curry Rice

April 20th, Friday:

  • Curry Rice (Pork, Potato, Carrot, Onion)
  • Milk
  • Mixed Fruit Jello (Jello, Pineapple, Mandarin Orange, Coconut Milk)
  • Shaped Cheese

Notes: During the first term of school, it is easy to get conditions like stiff shoulders from being nervous. In that case, curry which includes lots of spicy ingredients is useful. Warming up the body from the inside, it heals the stiffness of the muscles.