Sunday, September 13, 2009

the plight of the kyuushoku cook

I'm quite curious about the cooks behind the magic of kyuushoku, and would like to interview them when my Japanese is better. In the meantime I did come across this study, published by the Japan Society for Occupational Health. It points out that kyuushoku cooks' jobs are, uh, not the greatest--their work is literally "backbreaking":

"The median of the values for Japanese school cooks' workload, derived by the Visual Analogue Scale method ranging from 0(easy) to 10(severe), was 8.5. Concerning the possibility of occurrence of musculoskeletal problems, 83% of the respondents pointed out that the occurrence of musculoskeletal disorders was certain, and 17% of them estimated that it was probable...The participants also pointed out that Japanese school lunch cooks were exposed to various problems, i.e., excessive workloads for women, and too few replacements of manual work by machinery. On the other hand, the cleanliness of the school kitchen, quality of meals, and conscientious cooking work were evaluated as very high."

Ouchie! What comes next? Shall I lead a kyuushoku workers uprising? For starters, next time I see a cook, I'm going to squeeze their hand gently and gaze into their eyes with sympathy and appreciation.


  1. Hello, Kevin.

    I hope you will have a chance to interview people behind kyuushoku soon. Where does your kyuushoku come from? Some public schools have kitchen and cooks in their schools. Others get kyuushoku shipped from Kyuushoku Centre run by their cities. The latter was the case of my kyuushoku. We had a field trip (shakai kengaku) to Kyuushoku Centre and a bread plant in the first or second grade. Your schools may have similar field trips and let you join them.


  2. Good question! Most of the schools I teach at are quite large, and every morning when I look into the kitchen I see about 5-10 workers preparing food, chopping hundreds of things into huge piles, and so on. The rice cookers, etc are also industrial/military size! So I think they must make most of the food at the school.