My new office does not have a canteen and thus the employees have to resort to supermarkets, restaurants or – public lunch.
I didn’t even know before I moved to the new office that the ward offices around have canteens where anybody can go to. In the ward office you get a decent Japanese “teishoku” (rice, miso soup, one side dish, one main dish (you have the choice between meat and fish)) for 530 yen = around 5 USD.
I don’t go there very often, but sometimes I do. The clientele consists of ward office workers, some company employees like me, but also a lot of elderly people and young mothers with babies. You sort of cannot cook at home for that price considering all the ingredients, not to speak of the time it takes to prepare a meal like that by yourself.
I think it is very important to have such public lunch places especially for the elderly. It gives them a reason to get out of the house and it also provides some company and much needed human interaction, not to speak of the lovely shock on their faces to find also foreigners in the canteen 😉
I am rather sure that we pay with our taxes for places like that, but that’s one good use of taxes. May the public canteens thrive and prosper!