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!
We go to an expressway rest area in Japan to find workers we could follow to their first task of the afternoon. Luckily, we find 2 men chowing down on big lunches who let us do just that. Their job is to apply markings on road surfaces and parking lots, and we follow them to examine their superb skills. In a different segment, photographer Satoru Abe visits one of Japan's biggest envelope manufacturers, established in 1954. Each worker exhibits extraordinary skill to carry out their assigned phase in envelope making. When the employees gather round for lunch, we are surprised to see that they all are treated to hearty homemade soup, cooked by the company president every day.
The coastal city of Toba, in Mie Prefecture, Japan is home to female ama diver fishers, most of whom are in their 60's or 70's. In the morning, Ms. Matsui puts on her wetsuit, goes out to the sea to dive for abalones, and then has lunch with her fellow women divers. After that, she drives to a pub owned by her sister-in-law, where Ms. Matsui spends her evenings satisfying customers with the dishes she prepares as the pub's chef. In a different segment, we visit Ms. Makino, who is in charge of designing the taste rice cookers in development will ultimately provide. As her job demands her to sample rice all day, Ms. Makino has about 5 bowls' worth of rice every day, but she still chooses to bring rice in her bento for lunch!
We get on one of the largest crane ships in Japan to see what the operators of the massive crane do for lunch. Mr. Yamada, the head chef on board, explains that he cooks meals placing utmost importance on not boring the crew with the same meals all the time, as there are times when the crew must stay on the ship for 3 months straight. Jump aboard and discover the meals that keep the heavy-lifting personnel pumped and fueled. In another segment, we travel to a grape farm in Yamanashi Prefecture, run by 2 bachelors who used to work together as government employees. We sit down for lunch with the duo to learn what they emphasize most when growing grapes.
The kumade is an auspicious item said to rake in good fortune, sold during a November festival at certain shrines and temples in Japan. We visit a company run by 5 brothers that crafts and sells this lucky item to find out how the siblings get along, and to see what they have for lunch on the day of the big festival. Then, we go inside a gigantic freezer warehouse for storing food, where it is 25 degrees below zero! As the extreme subzero environment gives workers the chills, Ms. Ito, a veteran worker of 30 years, continues her lunchtime tradition of cooking warm soup for her colleagues every day. However, when it comes time to eat, we find Ms. Ito eating all alone in a small room. Check out this episode to find out why.
The Sapporo Clock Tower is one of the best-known landmarks in Hokkaido, Japan, telling time since 1881. Mr. Shimomura is in charge of its maintenance, and he winds up the weight that keeps the clock running manually. When it is lunchtime, he eats the bento lunch he makes for himself, and in a very particular way at that! In another segment, photographer Satoru Abe visits a factory in Hiroshima Prefecture that produces beads for use on accessories and clothes. You'll be amazed to see the craftsmanship that goes into making beautiful, quality beads. Satoru checks out the bento lunches of the hard-working craftspeople there!
America's Cup is the oldest international yacht race. We visit the edition held in Fukuoka Prefecture to tag along with Team Japan. Mr. Sofuku, the team's manager, is also a part of the team as a sailor. At age 50, he is the oldest competitor in this edition of the competition, and even if he is not as physically strong as his teammates, he brings a wealth of experience to his team of international stars. And Mr. Sofuku is particular about the lunch he chooses for his crew! In another segment, we visit a boarding agricultural high school where the students actually raise and produce about 70% of the food they eat. We take a look at their school lunch wherein the students eat with appreciation towards the food they produce.
We tag along with a bus tour guide in Miyazaki Prefecture, southern Japan, to see what her job is all about and also what she does for lunch. While the tourists are busy enjoying local delicacies, the veteran tour guide often orders delivery lunch and has it with the bus driver. In another segment, photographer Satoru Abe visits a factory in Ibaraki Prefecture, central Japan that produces 100 thousand utility poles every year. Inside the factory, we get an in-depth look at the skilled craftsmanship that makes it possible to create safe and reliable poles. When it's lunchtime, we take a look at the homemade bento lunch people bring from home.
Once a week a special lunch event is held at a university in Okinawa Prefecture, southern Japan, and its participants are students and researchers of the university from across the globe! The event is organized by a woman who usually teaches the participants Japanese, and the lunch is actually a session wherein students practice their Japanese while enjoying the food they bring. In another segment, we go to Saitama Prefecture, which is situated near Tokyo, to visit a foundry that produces manhole covers. The craftsmen work in unimaginable heat as they cast molten metal to craft durable and reliable manhole covers. At lunchtime, the entire staff gathers to have catered lunch together. And on some very special days, they are awarded with curry!
At a hot spring facility in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, 2 brothers work as fire knife dancers! That had been their dream since they were little, but the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 forced the facility to close for a long time. Yet, the brothers kept training, and their dream came true. Although they love their job, it demands a lot of energy. Find out what they charge up on at lunch. In a different segment, we visit a seafood processing plant in Iwate Prefecture, in northeastern Japan. The company president's son used to live in Tokyo alone, but the disasters of 2011 made him want to move back to his damaged hometown to help revitalize his father's company. The bento his grandmother cooks for him keeps him going.
We visit an insurance company in Fukuoka Prefecture, southern Japan. The all-women team of sales representatives has it tough, as its members mostly have to visit clients during lunch hours. So when they finally come back to the office, the reps are very hungry! To reward such hard workers with a nice, homemade meal, a whopping 200 servings of staff lunch are cooked several times a year, by the 10 ladies who work as office workers. In a different segment, we drop in on a farming woman in Chiba Prefecture, which neighbors Tokyo. Not only does this incredibly strong and healthy 83-year-old woman work out on the field all alone, she also eats lunch alone, and has been for the past 30 years, since her husband passed away. But on the day of our visit, we join her for lunch to hear her secrets for staying so healthy.
We visit a soy sauce manufacturer in Okayama Prefecture, western Japan. Once a month, the company president cooks a hearty lunch for his staff all by himself, using only the company's products to season dishes. He organizes this lunch to give his young staff the chance to actually taste what they make and sell. In a different segment, we visit a seafood processing company that has quickly recovered from the earthquake and tsunami of 2011, thanks to its passionate and loyal employees. The chairman's wife -- affectionately called Bappa, meaning "old lady" -- cooks staff lunch to show appreciation towards the workers.
We visit Iwate Prefecture in northern Japan to meet up with Mr. Saito, who works as a salesman for a company that sells a high-speed seaweed salting machine. At a glance, it only seems like he goes around from harbor to harbor to chat and eat delicious seafood lunch with his fisher clients, but whenever someone has an issue with their seaweed salting machine, he rushes over to save the day! In another segment, we meet a young lady who works as a baker in her hometown of Kitakyushu, southern Japan. Every morning, her father wakes up at 3 in the morning to prepare bento for his beloved daughter. However, as he can't really cook, the bento features a heavy serving of sausages every day.
Twice a week at the staff cafeteria of an industrial mixer manufacturer on Awaji Island, western Japan, employees have to sit at the table determined by a drawing. This unique lunch system was devised to encourage communication among employees of different ages and departments. We visit the company on such a drawing lunch day, which coincided with the first day of work for the 8 new employees who joined this year. Will the rookies be able to speak with the people they are seated with, or will they be too nervous? In another segment, we talk to a weather forecaster who utilizes the program he personally developed to release forecasts every year of when cherry blossoms will bloom in Japan. Will his forecasts prove to be accurate? Tune in and find out!
We go to Saitama Prefecture, near Tokyo, to visit the home/studio of Yasuo Otagaki, a popular manga comic artist. Using the latest computer technology and his fulltime staff, Mr. Otagaki produces his manga with efficiency. Come lunchtime, the children's room is changed to the lunch room, and the staff members all gather to enjoy the lunch prepared by a veteran cook hired specifically to make everyone a healthy lunch every day. In a different segment, we follow photographer Satoru Abe as he visits a tea field in Shizuoka Prefecture, in central Japan. The tea field spreads over a very steep hill, but a group of tough elderly women hit the field to harvest the first tea of the season. At lunchtime, the women have a good time sharing the homemade dishes they've brought.
For our segment "First task of the afternoon", we stop at a rest area in Shizuoka Prefecture, central Japan. At the restaurant there, we meet 2 interior renovators who are kind enough to let us tag along on their first task of the afternoon to conduct renovation work on an apartment room. We watch carefully and find out what the energy they stocked up on at lunch is used for! In another segment, photographer Satoru Abe goes to Kumano in Hiroshima Prefecture, western Japan, to visit a calligraphy brush production studio that has been around for more than 100 years. There, he sees the delicious bento lunches of local craftswomen.
The workers at a waste management company in the city of Niigata, Japan, all look forward to the pork soup day that comes around once a month. Office worker Ms. Horikawa cooks this soup for the men who go out every morning, despite any weather. They gather garbage from more than 100 collection points, scattered across the city. The soup not only warms up the workers' bodies, but their hearts as well. In another segment, we visit a factory in Osaka that produces windows and doors. The factory hires Vietnamese interns. 3 times a week, the company president's mother-in-law cooks staff lunch for all workers. And she does so with a hint of Vietnamese cuisine, to treat the interns with a taste of home.
Ryu Uchiyama, who lives in Wakayama Prefecture, south of Osaka, Japan, is an unusual type of underwater photographer, as he specializes in shooting freshwater wildlife. He's loved rivers since he was a child, and today, he spends over 6 months every year diving in rivers. Since the best time to take photos is around noon, when the sun is directly overhead, Mr. Uchiyama always has lunch past 2 o'clock. But before he eats, he goes into the river again to catch his lunch! In another segment, we visit the Wakayama Electric Railway's Kishigawa Line. The feline stationmaster of the line's Idakiso Station does an excellent job of charming customers. When the train company's employees have lunch, they always discuss new ideas to vitalize the areas around their line.
The patent office in Japan receives more than 300 thousand patent applications every year, and those applications are reviewed by examiners. There are about 1,900 examiners, and each one goes through about one application a day. Although the job is naturally tough, as it demands a thorough understanding of some very scientific and technical things, the examiners seem to be enjoying their job. In fact, they enjoy it so much that they get together to watch technology-related videos during lunch break a few times a month! In another segment, we visit the Minato City Hall in Tokyo. As we hang around in the cafeteria, we get to talk to city hall employees of various sections, each with different tasks.
We visit a famous whisky distillery near Sendai City, in northeastern Japan. There, we look at the work conducted by a team of 9 workers that together craft 10 thousand whisky barrels every year. What's interesting is that they don't actually make new barrels from scratch. Instead, they fix up and build barrels by combining different parts taken from old barrels. Since the quality of barrels greatly affects the taste and aroma of whisky, this is a profession that calls for a discerning eye. At lunchtime, the hungry barrel crafters go to the staff cafeteria where the rice is all-you-can-eat. In a different segment, we visit a public library in Aichi Prefecture, in central Japan to meet a librarian who has put up a special feature section there titled "Read ON!", which is obviously inspired by "Lunch ON!" The library users all seem to enjoy this section, but do they know the origin of its name? Tune in and find out!
We go to Ishigaki Island of Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan, to visit a pineapple farm. The island's pineapple farming industry once flourished, but today, it is faced with tough competition. However, the pineapple farmer we meet keeps producing tasty pineapples. Harvesting the fruits under the scorching sun is extremely hard work, but the farmers keep going as they hydrate themselves with the juicy pineapples they grow! When they sit down for lunch, we see the farmers all eat a unique local specialty. In a different segment, photographer Satoru Abe visits a mosquito coil plant in Wakayama Prefecture, which is located south of Osaka. For 120 years, the plant has produced mosquito coils, and although much of the production processes are today automated, there are still some things that are done the old-fashioned way: with gentle human hands. And at lunchtime, the break room is full of smiles and delicious-looking bento lunches.