All the students eat together in the lunch room.
The crockery is designed to be hard to break.
The best thing about lunch time is, of course, lunch! Shinanodai has an area set aside for eating lunch, so the teachers and students all gather there to eat together. Some weeks the students eat in grades, and some weeks students from all six grades eat together in groups of about 15.
On the day that Kids Web visited, the lunch menu was rice cooked with matsutake mushrooms, boiled spinach, fish simmered in soy sauce and rice wine, a light soup, and milk. Most main dishes feature rice, but sometimes the students get to eat bread or noodles. In many Japanese schools, school lunches are eaten on metal plates, but at Shinanodai all the plates are made of locally produced ceramics. The students eat with chopsticks, not knives and forks. Several times a year school lunch is eaten buffet-style so that the students get to practice taking food with a good variety of nutrition for themselves. There are also "world cooking" days when the menu features dishes from foreign countries and days when the menu is decided based on requests from parents.
On the first and last days of each term and on special days like sports days there are no school lunches, so the students bring bento (packed lunches) from home. The first-year students, who are not used to school life yet, eat with their teacher in their classroom, but the other students are free to eat on the school terrace, sports ground, or anywhere they like. On days like these lunch can feel just like a picnic!
Each student has a job to do at cleaning time
During lunch a school radio program is broadcast over the speaker system. The program features news stories, riddles, the weather forecast, and other items, and is one of the highlights of lunchtime. The students who produce the program ask a teacher to look on the Internet in the morning to get the latest news, but apart from that they do everything themselves, including taking requests for music, gathering information, presenting the program, and controlling the equipment. After lunch there is 20 minutes of cleaning time, during which the students make the classroom they use nice and clean by moving their desks and vacuuming the floor. The school grounds, the toilets, and the corridors are cleaned by all the students working together. As there are not very many students in the school, each student has quite a lot of cleaning to do!
(fourth grade, radio committee member)
As one of the students who produces the school's radio broadcasts, Saori broadcasts at lunchtime every Thursday. "It means I start eating my lunch later than everyone else, but that doesn't bother me," she says.