April in Japan is a month of changes. As well as the beginning of the new tax year, the new school year begins, staff are rotated between departments, and new employees enter companies wearing plain black suits and fixed smiles that are betrayed only by the thin layer of sweat on their foreheads and nervous, darting eyes. It’s also the time of year that millions of university students experience life away from home for the first time, installing themselves in halls of residence or nearby apartments with no one to check up on them.

In an effort to help their students settle in and start their studies off on the right foot, a university in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan, is operating a free breakfast initiative, inviting all new students to stop by the cafeteria from eight o’clock each morning to eat a nutritious, home-cooked meal, thus ensuring that they consume at least one meal during the day that hasn’t come out of a plastic cup or a convenience store microwave.

Tochigi Prefecture’s Hakuoh University’s newest students will be able to enjoy their breakfast for free from now until 26 April, after which time they will be charged the regular price of 100 yen (US$1), which is still an absolute bargain if you ask us. As well as a steaming bowl of nutritious miso soup, the morning meal includes rice, salad, vegetables and Japanese staples like atsuage thick fried tofu and tamagoyaki rolled omelettes.

The menu may sound a little peculiar to Westerners who are accustomed to eating things like toast and cereal (or, dare I say it, pop tarts) for breakfast, but it is not uncommon for Japanese families to sit down to meals of soups, salads and even leftover vegetables and curry each morning. As well as being low in fat, the meals typically include plenty of protein and are generally enough to keep you going until lunchtime.

Home to around 4,800 students, Hakuoh University has been offering its freshman students free breakfasts for some 14 years now, making the meal one less chore to worry about, and helping to ensure that students actually turn up to their morning classes.

Speaking to NHK News, a first-year student from nearby Fukushima Prefecture said: “I live by myself, so [the free breakfasts] really help me out financially. It also helps me to focus during my classes right from the start of the day.”

Never underestimate the power of a good, hearty breakfast, kids!

Source: NHK News