Hospital catering isn't generally known for its culinary excellence. While patients on the NHS are often grateful for whatever sustenance they can get, the quality can perhaps best be described as, er... variable. (If you've paid to go private, on the other hand, expect champagne to toast your newborn's arrival in the maternity unit.)
So prepare to feel just a touch of envy when you see the fare on offer in Japan. A woman who recently gave birth in the country shared her delectable-looking meals on the photo-sharing site Imgur – and awoke the green-eyed monster in people the world over.
The delicious, fresh meals looked more like something one might be presented with at a trendy Japanese restaurant than on a maternity ward. Japanese cuisine is known for its immaculate presentation and it seems even the country's hospitals take pride in creating Instagram-worthy dishes.
On the menu during the woman's stay were elaborate meals ranging from chicken fingers with shredded cabbage salad, bitter melon stir fry, agedashi tofu, carrot salad, rice and miso soup; to mushroom pasta with potato salad, broccoli, bacon salad, chicken soup, fruit bread and green tea; to salmon with tofu, spinach salad, natto, miso soup, rice and milk.
After the birth, the woman was even reportedly served a celebration meal of camembert and raisins, roast beef, mashed potatoes, kabocha and green tea.
After posting on Reddit, her images attracted the attention of commenters from all over the world. "I wanna give birth in Japan. And I am a 60 year old man....," said one. Another said the food "looks better than overpriced restaurants I have around here," while another added damningly: "I work in an US hospital and the food we serve our patients is the kind of stuff that most likely landed them there in the first place."
Meanwhile, others sounded even more impressed by the crockery. "The food looks wonderful– but the PLATE WEAR OMG it's porcelain! You get crappy plastic Tupperware in the US at best," said one commenter.
Japan's public-private hybrid healthcare system is among the best in the world, according to some commentators. The government covers the cost of 70% of all health procedures, which rises to 90% if you're a low-income elderly resident. Private health insurance covers the remaining 30%, which could be either sponsored by your employer or bought privately.
Writing on Reddit, the woman said the total cost was “around $4,000 (£3,000) for all prenatal care and delivery/hospital stay, but it was completely covered by national insurance”. Anyone else fancy Japanese for dinner later?