Osaka School Meals Disgusting, Mayor Suggests Adding Topping

An example of a school meal in Osaka.

An example of a school meal in Osaka.

One of the most talked about stories today on Yahoo! Japan was the news that school meals at Osaka municipal schools are apparently disgusting.

Mayor Hashimoto Toru chimed in with the suggestion that if the food tastes so bad the school should just add a topping to the rice, known in Japanese as “furikake“. But this suggestion has been met with a variety of responses, including that furikake shouldn’t be added to children’s rice because such toppings tend to be very high in salt.

Netizens see both the problem and Hashimoto’s response to it as being a consequence of the way he has been governing the city.

From Sankei Shimbun:

Mayor Hashimoto Surprised That School Meals Are Disliked, “Can’t You Just Add A Topping?”

Regarding school meals at Osaka Municipal Middle School, where wasted food is causing a problem because pupils complain “the food is cold and doesn’t taste good”, Mayor Hashimoto Toru and the City Education Committee had a heated discussion over whether students would allow the school to use “toppings” on the rice. Would it be unacceptable because of the importance of the amount of salt and nutritional balance of the food, or would it be the trump card that would make the kids eat their rice? Mayor Hashimoto said that it “should be left to the discretion of the principal”, but in the 10 minute discussion no conclusion was reached.

“There are a lot of children who leave their rice…if we put toppings on it they would probably eat it”. When one of the teachers made this remark during a discussion about subjects taught in school, Mayor Hashimoto responded in a surprised manner:

“Couldn’t you use toppings?”

School meals for middle schools in the city employ a delivery system to distribute school lunch boxes, but the side dishes in particular are disliked, with children saying they are “cold” and “don’t taste good”, and the percentage of students leaving food has risen to 70%. At this, the trump card that emerged was “toppings”.

However, school meals are made in accordance with the national guidelines for nutritional uptake, and salt levels per meal must be in the vicinity of 3 grams. Since there would be too much salt if toppings were applied to the rice, members of the education committee were of the opinion that they could not recommend this.

From teachers and committee members there were also positive opinions, such as “we could think about adding toppings to the menu provisionally” and “How about developing a topping that was low in salt?”.

Mayor Hashimoto claimed that “If we don’t at least leave a decision over toppings to the school, then that’s the very epitome of centralized power”. It was decided that they would continue to consult on the matter based on the opinions of experts.

Comments from Yahoo! Japan:


But what about cold rice that tastes horrible?
If 70% of the kids aren’t eating it, then I kind of feel that it’s not as simple as children being picky.
I think they should get the opinions of cookery researchers?


I hear that they’re still better than they were in the old days, but if they are talking about “food education”, then it’s not just about nutritional values and cost, I think there are other things that they have to see as important.

Innocent Citizens:

I don’t really care either way, but I suppose that the government have to do something about it.


“The side dishes in particular are disliked, with children saying they are “cold” and “don’t taste good”, and the percentage of students leaving food has risen to 70%.”
??? Before there were school meals they just had bento, right?
Weren’t the rice and side dishes always cold in schools where they didn’t have anything like a microwave?
Why is it a reason to leave food behind when it’s a school meal but not when it’s a bento?
I wonder if they did some simple survey they might know what the students really think?
If they did that, they might realize that it’s not something they can resolve by just adding a topping.


These are just my feeling as a parent, but there is something frightening about letting your children work in an environment where everything is being attended to like that. I’m not saying that I’d like them to make the rice cold on purpose, but I think I’d like my children to learn that whether it’s your school work or your life, that even when there are things you don’t like or things that aren’t quite enough, you get by with a good frame of mind and with your own ingenuity.


Actually I’d like to know why they’ve ended up getting such disgusting food.


The school I went to cooked everything on the premises, so it wasn’t cold or disgusting.
It might be rational to have a delivery system, but how does this work from the perspective of “food education” that the government are always talking about?


We also had things made at school, so I don’t know how the stuff that comes from the school meals center tastes.
Is it really that awful?


It seems to me that if the number of pupils eating their school meals will go up by adding a topping to the rice, then it’s a good thing. It’s not good to have an extreme amount of salt, but if it’s only the same amount of topping that’s in a small bag then I don’t think there’s enough salt in that to cause concern, right?

Comments from Twitter:


Does this mean that Osaka city is treating its children as “prisoners” or “the sick”? This reeks of The Restoration Party [a political party started by Hashimoto]. It’s a joke.


They should just get rid of school meals, there must be loads of autonomous schools in the country who don’t have school meals, and these are cold and horrible? The lunchboxes our mothers made for us were cold, but they were delicious! Ah, I guess there are some families who can’t make them, huh!!? That’s the same in other places too.


Our public elementary and middle schools were far away from the school meal centers, but the rice was never cold…We also had toppings. They tasted really good too…regional discrimination?


Come on, this is far too indulgent isn’t it? You shitty kids should try eating plain white rice with a pickled plum for lunch! ()


When I opened up my web browser, this news caught my eye. Thanks to Hashimoto’s governance, the school meals — that now get delivered to schools — have been slated from the start, but now they’re “so disgusting you can’t even eat them unless you add a topping” (・・;)…?


I think that maybe there are too many national nutritional guidelines. To be told to eat things that you can’t manage to eat, that’s already torture. If they’re not eating because they’re picky, then they should educate the children better.


You can eat rice that’s not very good when it’s warm, but when it’s cold it’s really horrible…But if it’s a rice that tastes good even when it’s cold then it’s fine.

yasuki :

This is such a trivial discussion.
If they’re being told it doesn’t taste good, then make it better!
Shouldn’t they just give the children tasty school meals?

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  • death_by_ivory

    Looks pretty nasty.Same thing for my daughter,her school meals are even smell gross.Solution,parents pack your child’s lunch.At least you know what goes in it.

  • UserID01

    That looks quite good, actually. Now, it might TASTE something awful, but it looks to me like chicken, rice and vegetables. Unless everything on the plate is spoiled, even if the food us under seasoned it should taste rather good.

    • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

      Problem isn’t that it’s spoiled but rather cold. Like most asian foods that are cooked ‘hot’, they quickly lose taste when they cool, so getting cold ‘hot’ food has little of the original taste.

      • Ali

        Cold food for school lunches? It certainly explains now why Japan has so many food poisonings in their schools. Every year, thousands of Japanese school kids suffer from serious outbreaks of food poisoning.

      • UserID01

        Aaah, I see. I suppose there are way, way too many kids to just nuke a meal just before it’s served, so maybe keeping it on the burners until just before it’s served, or keeping it under hot lamps would do a lot to keep the food tasty.

  • Sum Ting Wong

    They do look very dry and the soup doesn’t help much.

  • master chief

    where are jamie oliver and gordon ramsey when you need them

  • I’d eat that for lunch all day everyday

  • WTH

    All they have is carbs. Where’s the protein?

    • Butsu

      That’s Japanese food for ya.

  • cb4242

    I guess it depends on the school, for the most part, I have eaten a lot and I mean a lot of school lunches, the problem is NOT the food really, but 1) needs more salt a lot of the times and 2) a big problem is by the time the kids get their food, it’s already cold. Since the kids do all the preparing and serving their classmates and for the kids to settle down and sit down, you are looking at 20 min. that just passed by, therefore the food is already cold and that’s the part that sucks! Other than that, it’s a lot better then the Sloppy Joe’s and Tuna sandwiches we used to get at school back in my day.

  • Korean1Wizard1

    Osaka mayor, mentally messed up.

  • Hiz Oku

    looks healthier than the crap we feed kids here in the US, a little salt won’t kill them.. all we ever looked forward to in my schools was very greasy pizza, potato chips, soggy french fries/tater tots, spaghetti(with extremely bland sauce and meatballs with the consistency of cardboard), nearly frozen pb&j sandwiches or very dry chicken nuggets.. and to wash it all down, Gatorade, soda, or milk.

  • J Michael Carter

    At least it seems to be actual food…some American lunches are unbelievably gross.

    • Butsu

      This is just sad.

    • Smith_90125

      Vomit inducing. A McRotten’s regular hamburger and salad would be “healthier” and cost the same, and that’s not saying much.

      It would be far cheaper and healthier to serve plain cooked vegetables boiled in water and a tiny bit of meat. And yes, kids would eat it, especially the poorer ones who depend on school lunches. But the US in it’s idiotic “wisdom” lets corporate interests decide what “food” to serve in schools.

  • John Snow

    I love my school set lunches. 260 yen a meal and its a bargain! I do admit sometimes food that should be hot comes cold. But you cant really help it when its -14 degrees Celsius outside… Furikake could help but there are non salty furikake out there that people can use. Maybe just a pickled plum or something.

    had this a few weeks ago when the crab season started

    • Blank

      OMG I WANT ONE T^T I love crabs~

  • jonny

    it’s like those train bento. absolutely horrible

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