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Chefs helping spread washoku school lunches

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A group of chefs specializing in washoku traditional Japanese dishes is trying to help schoolchildren appreciate tastes passed down the generations in their school lunches.

In March 2014, the year after washoku was added to the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, eight chefs launched a group called “Washoku Kyushoku Oendan,” or a cheer squad for washoku school lunches.

The group is endeavoring to help children learn how to make the most of ingredients when they are cooked and enjoy the taste of “dashi” broth by offering washoku lunches, as well as giving dietary education and supporting menu planning by nutrition teachers.

Shinjiro Koizumi, director of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Agriculture and Forestry Division, visited a Tokyo elementary school in December last year to take a firsthand look at the group’s activities and praised their effort.

The cheer squad visited 50 areas across Japan in fiscal 2015, and the number is expected to reach 100 in the current year to March.

“I believe that children like washoku,” Yutaka Nishii, chief of the group’s secretariat and a representative of Tokyo-based joint company Gokoku Hojo, said. “I want them to experience and enjoy the real taste of the ingredients.”

The group hopes to visit more than 100 areas in the year that starts in April. Nishii said the group “wants to join hands with municipalities that are keen to offer more washoku in school lunches.”

On Dec. 8, the LDP’s Koizumi visited Taimei Elementary School, a public school in Chuo Ward in central Tokyo, and with students enjoyed lunches planned by Toru Okuda, a member of the group and chef-owner of Ginza Kojyu.

The theme for the day’s menu was winter solstice. Based on the Japanese custom of eating foods believed to bring good fortune on winter solstice, soup containing lotus roots and carrots was served, as well as “kogane yaki” grilled swordfish coated with egg yolk and topped with mushroom.Speech

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