「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Even a woman can eat it

By Samantha Loong


Although Japan is an expensive place to live, something that makes it affordable is the set lunch. In Japan, these lunches offer much better value for money than lunches in New Zealand. For around ¥1,000 — about $11 in New Zealand — Japanese set lunches often come with a salad, main, drink and sometimes even a dessert.

However, I have to wonder if they'd be even better value for money if I were a man. One lunchtime, while waiting for another friend to arrive, a workmate and I decided to order for her. Upon ordering, the waitstaff asked us: "Is the third guest a man or a woman?"

I exchanged glances with my workmate and very tentatively said, "Female?" I felt as if there was a right and wrong answer. And it turns out my instincts were correct — had I said "The third guest is a man," my friend would've received a bigger portion of everything. When all three of our set lunches arrived, the three of us stared longingly at the trays of our male neighbours, who had noticeably more food.

In my last essay, I expressed my frustration at how businesses in Japan seemed to think women couldn't, or shouldn't exert themselves too much. And I now know why — maybe it's because some restaurants don't feed us a full serving of food, but rather a downsized version. Without those extra calories, it's no wonder we're unable to use a computer, assemble a bed or lift anything much more than a kilogram. Seeing as I'm not that much lighter than the average Japanese man, I'd like to be able to choose how much I'd like to eat, rather than have it decided for me.

However, I'm noticing signs that perhaps Japan's now seeing a shift in attitudes — although it may not necessarily be the healthiest one. On Japanese television, I've seen female celebrities whose job it is to go to a restaurant, order something that's meant for a party of six, and then eat all of it, proclaiming at the end "That was delicious!" I was recently directed to the video channel of a woman who films herself eating enormous amounts of food. The video I watched was of her making and eating ten servings of instant noodles. She polished it off without breaking a sweat. We don't see the after-effects of consuming all that sodium, but I'm sure it wasn't pleasant.

I wouldn't exactly call these women role models for healthy eating, but I hope that restaurants will take note of their appetites. And I hope they realise that when it comes to food: Yes. Even a woman can eat it. All.



The Japan Times ST: July 3, 2015

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




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