Early Lunch Rebels

The life of a Japanese high school student can be quite hectic. With exams, extra-curricular activities, not to mention cram school, their schedules are already packed. To make things worse, breakfast sometimes gets skipped to make extra time for studying. More likely in the third hour before lunch, students' thoughts often turn to their bento 弁当 (boxed lunches) and sometimes the temptation is just too great. That's when desperate students may resort to haya-ben 早弁, which means eating your bento early.

Haya-ben during the five minute break between classes is easy, but doing it during class time is not easy to pull off. Moreover, since eating or drinking is usually not allowed during class, the consequences of failure may involve public humiliation, confiscation, or worse.

Nevertheless, as seen in a new video just released on YouTube today (Oct. 23, 2018), students at Clark Memorial International High School seem to have found a very creative solution to the problem, with a few helpful contraptions that look like they might have been inspired by Inspector Gadget.

Haya-Ben Stealth Tech

Let's take a look at these ingenious devices:

The Sleeve-Fork

Perhaps the sneakiest of all, the sleeve-fork allows you to pocket away a morsel of food and deliver it to your mouth without drawing attention. A spring-loaded mechanism quickly extends and retracts once you remove the food. Since you can pretend you're simply resting your hand against the side of your head, it's difficult for teachers to detect. Of course, how you manage to chew and swallow after that while remaining incognito is up to you.

The Tabe-Tie

A clever play on words, tabetai 食べたい meaning "I want to eat," this device hides conveniently behind your standard-issue Japanese high school boys' tie. With the push of a button at the end of a cable which you can hide in your pants pocket, a flat robotic "arm" will curl up to your mouth, delivering a piece of food that was attached to a fork at the tip of the tie to your awaiting mouth. Although it's a bit slower and less stealthy than the sleeve-fork, it can be used even in summer when you have to wear short-sleeved shirts.

The Secret Feed Arm

Perfect for students with desks near the window or the wall where there's a blind spot, this robot can quickly feed you from the side, leaving your hands free to study as usual. What it loses in size and portability, however, it makes up for in stealth technology. Equipped with cameras, it recognizes and tracks the teacher's face, immediately hiding when it detects that the teacher is looking your way.

The Anpan Pitching Machine

If it's a whole classroom you need to feed, it's time to bring out the heavy artillery. This robot will open your window, then with precision and speed, send tasty anpan breads filled with sweet red bean jam flying on a perfect parabola into the mouths of the students in the classroom. While not exactly the stealthiest of robots, it's surely more efficient and cheaper than equipping each student with their own personal feeding gadgets.

The Moving Text Shield

When your pangs of hunger are so strong that you need to eat a whole bowl of food in class, the Moving Text Shield has you covered, literally, as it allows you to shift the position of a strategically placed textbook to shield you from the teacher's view. Stealth slurping skills are also a plus.

The Haya-Ben Delivery Drone

What if you don't have any food to supply the stealth gadget you own? No problem, as long as you have the Haya-Ben Delivery Drone to fly your lunch in through an open window. Not recommended for hot soup, especially if you're flying over the school yard.

Haya-Ben Hackers: The Video

As you may have figured out, this video is actually a promotion for a drink. Joie, from Yakult, has beneficial lactic acid, and is enriched with calcium and Vitamin D, making it a good source of nutrition, which is a common concern for busy students who may not always have time to eat properly.

At the end of the video, we see a robot plant a straw in a bottle of Joie, with the question on the screen: "Are you getting enough nutrition?" There's also a message in fine print warning students not to practice Haya-Ben, an opinion we also wish to second.

After all, your attempts at haya-ben may not always be successful, as these students learned:

You can watch this behind-the-scenes video to see how much fun the students had being actors in the commercial:

For more information on Joie, please visit their official website (in Japanese) here.

By - Ben K.