Culture shock

Japanese sandwiches give culture shock to foreign journalists at Tokyo Olympics

While traditional Japanese dishes like sushi and tempura are well known around the world, once you get here you’ll find there’s a wide array of Western dishes to tantalize your taste buds as well.

Many of them are a little different from what you’ll find in Western countries, however, with an example being sandwiches, which are sometimes filled with fruit and cream, and other times packed in bags with their cut crusts, in what are called “lunch packs”.

Visiting foreign media covering the Tokyo Olympics were recently introduced to the Japanese packed lunch, after it was offered free to reporters at the press center.

▼ This reporter lists the two varieties available: strawberry jam and peanut margarine and cream.

The packed lunches were first described as a “culture shock” by a number of journalists, but like many surprising foods in Japan, once people tried the sandwiches, they turned out to be a hit. , the Peanut Cream Sandwich in particular earning its fair share. of supporters.


Packed lunches come in a wide variety of flavors, spanning some rather quirky toppings like Baskin Robbins ramen and ice cream, but it looks like Olympics organizers have chosen two of their most familiar toppings for outsiders in visit, who were probably trying them. for the first time.

▼ Combine these two varieties together and you have a third option: peanut butter and jelly.


The packed lunches offered at the media center are definitely sweet, and according to this Japanese reporter, all of the free food options were sweet.


Unlike sandwiches overseas, which usually come with the crust included and may have healthier salad-like toppings on wholemeal or multigrain bread, sandwiches in Japan are usually made with soft white milk bread and are often light on the ingredients, making them more like a snack than a hearty meal.

That doesn’t mean the media have to go hungry when reporting on the Olympics though, as packed lunches were one of the free food options on offer, along with heartier meals like bento boxes and ramen on sale at the press centre.


Turns out, this wasn’t the first time packed lunches took center stage at a major sporting event. In 2019, they became something of a “cult classic” among international media covering the Rugby World Cup, hosted in Japan that year.

▼ Peanut butter “cream” may be as controversial as the cooking pot, but it’s won everyone over.


Given the positive response they’ve received from overseas journalists during the Rugby World Cup, it’s no wonder packed lunches have made a triumphant return for the Olympics this year. And once it became known that foreign journalists had developed a soft spot for packed lunches at the Olympics, the Japanese were thrilled with the news.

“Japanese bread is soft and delicious – so glad foreigners love it!”

“The local media has been highlighting all the bad things about the Olympics, so it’s good to finally read some good news!”

“They’re great for photographers and reporters because they’re lightweight and easy to carry for a snack when you’re hungry and short on time.”

“A friend of mine from Germany said he likes peanut cream too!”

“Packed lunches and convenience stores do more to help Japanese diplomacy than politicians!”

The common love for packed lunches and convenience stores shared by Japanese and foreigners has truly bonded locals and visitors from around the world.

Source: Hachima Kiko

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– A Canadian journalist’s love of 7-Eleven steals the show at the Tokyo Olympics

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