Lunch ON! offers insights into working people of all kinds, by looking at their lunch. Discover what they eat as they strive to reach new heights!
Sky Bento that Keeps Businesspeople Full We document a company that produces 15,000 "sky bentos" a day to be sold at Haneda Airport. Sky bentos must taste good without being heated, plus they must last for a while so that people can buy them as gifts. The people who develop the bentos cook all sorts of dishes and taste them day in, day out. The lunch they have every day is an assortment of cold bento dishes in development, so their wish is to be able to have warm dishes like soba noodles and ramen noodles every now and then. Lunch on Overseas! Working adults sometimes have work to do overseas. This is a segment where we look at the photos and listen to the stories of the lunches and the work a businessperson experienced during their business trip abroad. Before a certain company employee sets out on a trip to Europe with his bosses for a week, we listen to him talking about the expectations and worries about his upcoming mission. And after he comes back, we sit down with him for lunch and listen how happy he is to be back, and also some stories from his time in Europe… We take a look at the realities of overseas business trips.
The Unknown Worker at Izumotaisha Shrine Mr. Yamasaki is a photographer commissioned by Izumotaisha Shrine to take official photographs of weddings and official events at the shrine. For lunch, he goes to a Chinese restaurant he frequents. As he once used to take photographs for a cooking magazine, he cannot help but take a snapshot of his lunch before he digs in. We take a look at the work and lunch of the unknown worker at Izumotaisha Shrine. Lunch for the Ferrymen There is a company that provides regular ferry service connecting the Oki Islands with Japan's main island. Throughout the year, 3 ferries and a high-speed ship are operated by the company. The crew is always served lunch on the ferry, and the men who prepare it always go to buy ingredients before the ferry heads out. And then, they cook meals in the rocking kitchen on the ferry. The Contemporary Master Craftsman Who Crafts Abacuses Izumo has always been an area that has produced abacuses. Last year, Mr. Uchida was chosen as the first abacus craftsman to be named Contemporary Master Craftsman, an honor awarded by the government. An excellent abacus is marked by how well its beads move. The abacuses Mr. Uchida crafts feature beads that move and stay in place like magic, and are therefore sold at high prices. At lunchtime, he eats together with fellow craftspeople and his wife, who manages the exhibit at the factory.
The Moby Dick is the only cruise ship in Okinawa Prefecture that provides dinner, and as such, many choose the ship as the place to celebrate special occasions and the stage to make marriage proposals. Most of the servers at the restaurant are young people in their 20's from a variety of countries, including Japan, Thailand and the Philippines. Server Ms. Tomoyo Gushiken teaches a woman from the Philippines important Japanese, and in return, she learns English from her Filipina colleague. Every day is a chance for the young workers to improve as professionals who provide comfort to the guests. Come lunchtime, staff members all gather in the break room, and those who are far away from their homeland are served employee lunch cooked by the chefs. Lunchtime on the ship is a fun one, where the multinational staff all talk to one another in both English and Japanese. We take a look at the lunches of the young staff members who work hard to provide a magical and happy time to guests. The Cafeteria with a Breathtaking View of Mt. Hakkai Mr. Shigehisa Miyasaka, who changed his job from one at a large electronics manufacturer to one at an electronic parts manufacturer in Uonuma, Niigata Prefecture, sent in a message saying that the lunch he has with the breathtaking scenery of golden rice plants with Mt. Hakkai in the background is like nothing else. With his family in Tokyo, Mr. Miyasaka lives in the company dorm for single employees. Living in the country brings him many surprises, such as discovering vegetables at his door left by local farmers, and running into a swarm of grasshoppers. Mr. Miyasaka cooks his own bento, using the locally-grown rice, and absolutely savors lunchtime, when he can have his meal while quietly admiring the view of Mt. Hakkai. We take a look at the "bento with a view" which keeps him going.
Honda's plant in Yorii, Saitama Prefecture is a state-of-the-art factory that began operating in 2013. The unsung heroes who keep the factory running and able to manufacture 250,000 cars every year are the 17 employees at the facility maintenance department. It is their job to distribute electricity, water and gas to all corners of the factory, and to perform maintenance on related facilities. Whenever there is a problem somewhere, the team must head over to that spot immediately. That's why they are the only team permitted to ride bicycles on the premises. Team member Mr. Takashi Machida explains that his job isn't appreciated much, as for most workers, it is a given that the factory is always functional. Mr. Machida looks forward to eating the curry udon noodles at the cafeteria, which is deliberately served on Fridays so that employees can wash off the curry stains on their white work clothes over the weekend. Every day, when the bell that signals lunchtime rings, he hops on his bicycle and pedals hard straight towards the cafeteria. Onigiri of Different Seasons and Regions: Black Bean Rice Balls of Sasayama In a village deep in the mountains, Mr. Yoshihiko Ogura grows black edamame, the area's famous produce. After his son quit his job as a Web designer to inherit the family farming business, the harvesting work has become one conducted by Mr. Ogura, his wife Yaeko, and his son. For lunch, they look forward to the rice balls Yaeko rolls with rice cooked with just black edamame, konbu kelp and salt. She explains there is no need for additional seasoning as the black beans offer rich flavor. We look at the family's onigiri rice balls that feature local autumn blessings.
On November 23, right after the harvesting of new rice, the Niinamesai, or Harvest Festival is held at Kasugataisha Shrine in Nara Prefecture to show appreciation for the rich autumn harvest. We follow 2 young rookies at the shrine who busy themselves preparing for the big event as we look into the lunch on the job at the shrine, and take a behind-the-scenes look at the big event. In the next part of the episode, we visit a hot spring inn deep in the mountain of Kurobe, Toyama Prefecture. To get there, one must ride a train for 25 minutes from the foot of the mountain, and then walk the mountain path for another 15 minutes. All necessities at this inn such as food and other supplies are brought up the mountain by carriers. We follow the carriers on the inn's last business day before winter break, to see what they do for lunch, and to see how tough their job is.
There is a staff cafeteria-cum-tavern in Osaka, run by an IT company that has an average employee age of 28. 2 years ago, the president rented property near the office and opened a staff cafeteria so his employees can eat healthy. At night, that cafeteria is opened to the public as a tavern. We visit this unique dining space which is treasured by employees as it is where they hold parties and dine with clients. In "Let's go see a bento", photographer Satoru Abe visits a plant in Arida City, Wakayama Prefecture that has exclusively produced grilled eel for 50 years. At the plant, we witness the extraordinary skills of masters who process eels. What do they eat for lunch? Do they eat eels? We visit them during lunch.
When in winter, humpback whales migrate to the waters around Okinawa Prefecture, veteran whale watching boat captain Mr. Masuda and rookie captain Mr. Kamada set out to sea to guide guests to the breathtaking view of wild whales. It's serious business, as if they fail to spot any whales, they must give the guests a 100% refund. Let's see what these two do for lunch on their boat. In a different segment, we meet Mr. Sato, a company president who cooks lunch every day for his employees and the clients who come to the office for meetings. We visit the company's dining hall to sit in on their family-like lunch.
We crash in on the lunch of a family-run seafood wholesaler in Fukui Prefecture. In "Onigiri of different seasons and regions", we visit Suzuka City, Mie Prefecture, which was once a production center of sumi inksticks. Today however, Mr. Kido Ito and his son Harunobu are the only ones there upholding the tradition. As the craftsmen's hands are all black from kneading ink, they always have rice balls in plastic wrap for lunch. Our new segment "Lunch IN Entirety" attempts to peek into people's lives by watching them eat lunch. Why? Because the way a person eats lunch says a lot about who they are!
Mr. Mitsuoka, an employee at an IT Company in Nagoya City, is given the job to produce a staff cafeteria that would provide employees healthy meals. His task is extensive, as he must lead his project team to design the cafeteria's interior, atmosphere, menu and even the taste of its dishes. Photographer Satoru Abe visits an established wooden furniture plant of a city long known for its wood crafting, and discovers that the craftspeople there tend to eat alone in silence, and quickly at that.
The first winery in Miyagi Prefecture has recently opened. As the only unmarried man at the winery, Mr. Takane, in charge of wine making, only brings rice balls he makes for himself for lunch, but the other men always share their bento dishes with him. Although Miyagi's seaweed farming was devastated by the 2011 disasters, it is recovering fast. When seaweed harvest begins, work is hard. However, it is also the time when seaweed farmers get to fully enjoy the goodness of what they grow for lunch.
We look behind the scenes leading up to the summer tournament of professional sumo wrestling, which is enjoying newfound popularity recently in Japan. Sumo ushers are the unsung heroes of sumo, as they usher wrestlers to the ring, build the ring, and on the day before the tournament, go around to sumo stables in a ritual to notify wrestlers and others that the big tournament is about to begin. We follow the protectors of sumo traditions to look at what they do, and what they eat for lunch.
In our "Taxi Lunch" segment, we go to Kanazawa City, which is now bustling with the opening of the new bullet train line. We assume taxi drivers must know where all the delicious spots are at, so we join them for lunch to find out what lunch in Kanazawa is all about. In another segment, we are surprised to see the extremely skillful portrait bento sent in from Ms. Kitamura in Hokkaido. She deftly crafts seaweed cutouts and puts them in her husband's bento. How does he feel about it?
The Gion Festival is the main summer event in Kyoto, Japan. It features many hoko floats, and the most noteworthy one, as tall as an 8-story building, is assembled with just rope, without the use of even a single nail by a team of carpenters. Mr. Hirose, who leads that team has bento cooked by his wife for lunch. In another segment, we talk about eel. Since the expensive fish isn't something people usually consider for lunch, we ask eel lunch eaters the reason they're having eel lunch.
We visit a family-run workshop that produces traditional Nishijin fabric in Kyoto, Japan. The wife in charge of preparing lunch for all at the workshop cooks healthy dishes with local vegetables, and the family of 9 all sit around the table to eat together. In a different segment, we follow workers as they go back to work from lunch break. In this episode, we find 2 men scarfing down a gigantic plate of fried rice. We follow them to their workplace to see what all that energy is used for.
We kick off this episode with Ms. Aoki, an office worker at a trucking company in Nagoya, Japan. A few times a month, she makes bento lunch for 10 young men who work as truck drivers, and she just loves watching them chow down! In another segment, we go behind the scenes of the famous Tanabata Star Festival wherein local shops of Hiratsuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture, compete to craft the best festival decorations. We observe a crafter with decades of experience get to work, and also what he does for lunch.
We begin this episode with Mr. Suzuki, who works for a beverage company. He analyzes water quality by examining the condition of the mountain whose water his company uses. So it's his job to climb up the mountain for research, but what does he do up there for lunch? We follow him and find out. In another segment, we visit rock band Chatmonchy while they are cooped up in the studio rehearsing for a very big show. The staff who handle stage direction and lighting nibble on bread or rice balls whenever they get the chance, but what do the rock stars eat for lunch behind the scenes? Come rock out with the band, and find out!
In Japan, each fire engine is custom-made and delivered to local governments. We visit a factory that builds about 300 fire engines each year to check out its cafeteria, which is used mostly by men. In another segment, photographer Satoru Abe goes to Gojo City, Nara Prefecture. The city is Japan's top production area of persimmons, shipping out up to 200 tons per day. There, he visits a fruit sorting center, where most of the predominantly-female workers on the sorting belt bring bento for lunch.
Every day, a few young people walk with food through the allies of a posh Tokyo shopping district. The food they carry is lunch for the staff at a hair salon. Stylist Mr. Yamamoto personally cooks lunch for everyone at the salon's storage flat. We visit him to witness just how particular he is when it comes to cooking. In another segment, we go to the seas around Iwate Prefecture, northeastern Japan, to meet Mr. Aramaki, who gave up his successful career at a major corporation in Tokyo to become a professional fisherman. At first, he couldn't stand being scolded as the lowest-ranking member of the crew, but now he has become to enjoy his new job and the delicious seafood meals that come with it.
Mr. Hirao, who handles publicity at a railway company, has the job to write a lunch blog on the company website. Each restaurant featured in his blog is one he can go to, eat at, and come back from in his hour-long lunch break. Despite his limitations, Mr. Hirao has gone to about 3,000 restaurants so far, all in hopes of vitalizing the communities around his company's lines. In another segment, we go to Akita Prefecture, northern Japan, to visit a company that develops and sells fungi, which are essential in producing fermented foods. We observe how the fermentation professionals develop fungi, conduct quality control and also what they do for lunch.
We go to Fukuoka City, southern Japan, to visit a bus company's team that designs and updates control diagrams, which determine the schedules of bus routes. To combat traffic congestion, team leader Mr. Ishibashi personally goes to bus stops, observes the flow of people and buses carefully, and heads back to the office to fine-tune the diagrams based on his findings. And at lunchtime, he enjoys the bento lunch his wife prepares for him. In a different segment, we sit down for face-to-face lunch with Ms. Eri Nishida, who is a prosecutor. Through the conduit of lunch, we take a peek into the judicial world.