25 May 2012

Personal Safety Alerm ★ 'bouhan' (security) bell/buzzer ★ One of the most essential items for Japanese school children

There is a list of things that parents have to prepare for the Japanese primary school... a school rucksack, called 'randoseru', 'bousai zukin' (a cushy head cover) for the earthquake emergency as well as a school uniform, a school hat, and PE clothes. But most importantly, 'bouhan' (security/crime prevention) bell/buzzer is what people cannot miss out!
It is probably known as a personal safety alarm outside Japan. You may be surprised by a selection of personal safety alarms in large supermarket throughout Japan. It is a gadget, sometimes with cute characters, but it has a style.

My 8 years old daughter has two safety alarms. One is for school which she puts on her school rucksack and the other for outside school whenever or wherever she goes after school. It could be a key holder and a neck holder with a long strap.

Unlike the other countries, children go to the local Japanese primary school by themselves without parents' drop-off . It is because Japan is relatively safe (mind you, it is up to now!) and it is usually a walk distance from home to school in a small community. 

Please watch and listen how the personal safety alarms work.
(Mind you, they make a huge beep! Please turn down the volume before you play.)
Children tend to play with their personal safety alarms rather than what they actually need to use for emergency. It is just like a tale, 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf'.

Whatever reasons, the personal safety alarm is a little charm for Japanese school children from parents.

11 May 2012

Yummy & Healthy Japnaese School Lunch ★ Book Review: ''Tokyo Adachi Ward School Lunchroom'' in 2011

'How was your day at school?'
I ask my 8 years old daughter who goes to a local community (public) school everyday.
She always replies, 'The school lunch was yummy!'

That is good!
The boring and tasteless school lunch is an old story and even a recipe book called, ''The School Lunchroom in Tokyo, Adachi Ward - well-balanced meals with the key 12 nutrition, aiming for No.1 in Japan'' was published last year (Japanese language only).
The recipe book is a little arranged for home use but it has the same concept for school meal: good for well-being with balanced nutrition; good for dietary and mental education -  practise respect for the nature and the people who cook, cleanliness and proper table manners.
According to the recipe book, the school lunch in a manciple, Adachi Ward, offers three to four different dishes for each lunch - the main (rice, noodles, and others), a soup, the main/side vegetables, and a  dessert (often fruits).

There are three key points that the school nutritionist cannot miss out:
1) Well-balanced with 12 nutrition - Protein, Liloid, Carbohydrate, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin, C, Dietary fibre;
2) Calorie around 650kcal per meal with less than 5g of salt;
3) Less than 300 yen per head per meal.
This book also introduces the ingredients of the seasons in each chapters.
The daily school dishes are listed in a handout that children receive from the head nutritionist at school, as well as the local government HP, along with useful information on food and healthy eating habits.
Each children are appointed as lunch staff in a team and take responsibility to look after school lunch for their class: prepare, serve and clean up after lunch which gives school children a real work experience. It also gives a chance to build a sense of service and a spirit of harmony.
Good-bye to a colourful lunch box in Japanese kindergarten which was even introduced in BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16069217 as well as in Jaimie Oliver's web http://www.jamieoliver.com/au/news/japan-s-school-lunches-a-new-artform, and big welcome to school lunch in Japanese primary schools.

The children cannot wait for school lunch tomorrow - Korean bibimbap, gelatin noodles soup, pineapple jelly, and milk - an international cuisine.

Thank you for yummy, yummy school lunch, wishing I was there, too.

07 May 2012

Fun dining at Sushi Train ★ 'Kaiten zushi' in Tokyo

People may have different expectations for sushi. Some may prefer sitting at a wooden counter, overlooking the disciplinarian sushi chef and appreciate the subtle flavour and its presentation at upmarket sushi restaurants. Others may just enjoy sushi as a type of fast-food in family-friendly sushi restaurants.

The latter is well known as 'kaiten zushi' (literally means 'rotating sushi', often translated as 'conveyor belt' sushi bar, but more familiar with the terms as 'sushi train' or 'sushi belt').
The 'kaiten zushi' restaurants in the suburbs often have a large space of car parking and there are more than 100 seats including tables and counters in the restaurant.

The 'fast' food means more for this type of restaurants. It is the 'speed'!
First, you make orders by touching iPad sized touch panel menu. Of course, you can just pick up the plates of choice rotating on the belt if you are starving.
Don't worry too much about the price. Almost all the sushi plates which come with two sushi pieces only cost 105 yen in this type of restaurants. It is really family-friendly, or perhaps parents-friendly dining out.

The electric orders are sent to the kitchen in the back room and here they come ... by a fast train!!!
There are three layers which carry sushi; the ordinary sushi conveyor belt at the bottom where you can pick up any plates as you wish, and the middle and the top layers are the rails for the fast trains which bring the orders at your table. Not only children but even grown-ups enjoy watching how they come.    

The great part of '105 yen kaiten zushi' restaurants is not only they offer sushi but a various type of dishes like chicken fries, chips, noodles, sweets, ice creams and lots more.
The highlight of all for children is the slot game on the touch panel when people order some designated menu.
It is obviously not in the course of the city tour, but '105 yen kaiten zushi' restaurants is a place you fill up your stomach as well as fulfilling your heart with eye-opening Japanese fast-food culture.