I just had my first Japanese school dinner. And, contray to the reports from most JHS ALTs, it wasn't that bad either.
The whole process is quite interesting too. The food is cooked off-site and delivered in big, steel, wheeling cabinets. At 12.40pm, preperation starts. A group of students arrive at the lunch room with some supervising teachers. Between them, the students and the teachers (and today, me) set up the tables and chairs, put a tray before each seat and then load each tray with the meal. Some students, the ones wearing aprons and white hats, dish the food into bowls. The others take the bowls and put them on the trays. By 1pm, everything is done and the rest of the school is allowed to come into the lunch room and take a seat. When everyone is sat, we all say 'itadakimasu' and start.
I was sat with a group of students. I introduced myself to them, but they were too shy to reply. So I sat and eat my meal, catching the odd Japanese word so I could tell they were talking about me. Eventually, one of them plucked up the courage to say 'Hello' to me. I replied 'Hello, how are you', which sparked a conference between the students as they tried to work out the right reply. 'I'm fine' they eventually said, and then they went back to their meals. So that's my baseline, by summer I want them telling me what they did at the weekend.
The bell went at 13.20pm; the signal for end of lunch. The students that had been chatting a bit too much hadn't finished so they started ramming the food down. The students that had finished said 'Gochisosama deshita' and started stacking empty bowls and plates ready to take them back to the steel cabinets. Another bell went at 13.25pm, and lunch was over.
So that was lunch. I'll have two of those a week until summer, so plenty of time to broaden their English and plenty of Japanese listening practise for me too!