According to a 2012 survey of 2,000 Shinsei Bank employees, the average worker now spends 510 yen (US $5.79) on lunch every day. That’s down from 710 yen (US $8.06) in 2001 and 600 yen (US $6.81) in 2007. That’s a 30% decrease in twelve years.
Nikkan Spa, a popular magazine in Japan, conducted its own survey and found an even bleaker outcome. In a survey of 100 salarymen (office workers) and public servants in their 30s and 40s, a surprising 64 percent of workers admitted that they spend 500 yen (US $5.67) or less on lunch. An even more astonishing 24 percent of workers get by on just 250 yen (US $2.84) a day.
A measly 250 yen (US $2.84) won’t even buy a beef bowl at Sukiya, famed to be the cheapest lunch around. If these salarymen can’t even afford the cheapest meals available for purchase, what exactly are they eating? Let’s take a peek inside the slimmed-down lunchboxes of Japan’s typical worker.