Let’s Have Lunch!
Lunchtime in Japan
In Japanese companies, the lunch break is almost always 12:00am to 1:00pm. All work stops and everyone goes to lunch at the same time. Large companies have multiple cafeterias so that everyone can get a full hot meal almost simultaneously. It is not a particularly leisurely meal. Once everyone gets settled at the table, everyone stops chit-chatting and starts eating. No one talks about work. In fact, while eating sometimes no one talks at all.
“Eating Out of the Same Pot”
You might ask, why, if Japanese do not discuss work, or even talk much, why is it important to take lunch all at the same time? To the Japanese, there is a kind of solidarity and camaraderie in everyone leaving their desks at the same time and eating at the same time. Eating the same food together is also important. In Japanese, there is the expression, “onaji kamameshi wo kuu,” which means literally “all eating out of the same pot,” but it means something more like, “we are all in this together” or “we all understand one another.” Of course, I am not talking about actually eating off one another’s plates. But being physically at the same table at the same time eating from the same menu is a way to connect with the Japanese, even if nothing much is said.