How are Japanese schools different from America’s?

29 Jul

The only experience I have with the American public school system is when I was a student in the ’70s – ’80s in West-central Florida.
But I’m sure Florida’s public schools aren’t too different from schools in other parts of America. And even though I graduated from high school in 1988 I guess American schools aren’t too different today (with the exception, of course, of fashion and music tastes. And there are probably computers in U.S. classrooms now.)

My experience with the Japanese school system is from having three teenagers who attended Japanese public schools from kindergarten to the high school they’re currently attending.

Some differences between these countries’ school systems are:

- In Japan, the school year begins in April and ends in March. In America, the school year starts in September and ends in July. Also, students in Japan have fewer days off than American students.

- There are no school buses in Japan. In Japanese public kindergartens, mothers take their kids to school (often by bicycle). Public elementary schools and junior high schools are close enough for the students to walk to* (*in urban areas, like Tokyo, students must walk to school…no bicycles allowed. But in more rural areas of Japan, kids are often permitted by ride their bikes to school.)
High schools in Japan require passing an Entrance Exam to attend…so these schools usually require the students to take a short commute by train.
(Private schools in Japan, on the other hand, aren’t usually within walking distance from the students’ homes…so kids who attend private schools (even elementary school) can be seen commuting by train with their classmates.)

- In Japanese public schools, elementary school kids wear street clothes to school (like in American schools), but starting in junior high, they must wear a school uniform.

- In Japanese schools, everyone must remove their shoes at the entrance and change into 上履き (indoor shoes).

- In Japanese elementary and junior high schools students and teachers all eat the same school lunch. There are no choices.
In most high schools, students and teachers are required to bring a 弁当 (packed lunch) from home.
And very few Japanese schools have a cafeteria. Students eat lunch in their classroom at their desk.
In American schools, there are “lunch ladies” who prepare the school lunches and then serve the students, but in Japan, the “lunch ladies” cook the lunch but students take turns serving lunch to their classmates.

- Japanese school children don’t take a shower after gym class.

- There are no janitors in Japanese schools. The students clean their school everyday.

- In junior high and high school in Japan, almost every student joins a after-school club or team.

- 夏休み (summer vacation), which my daughters are currently on, is about five weeks long in Japan. It was about twice as long in America, if I remember correctly.
And during summer vacation, Japanese students have to go to school many times for their school club / team practice. Also, Japanese students must do a lot of homework during summer vacation.

- In American schools, there are no 入学式 (“School Entrance Ceremony”), and 卒業式 (“School Graduation”) isn’t until high school has been completed.
But in Japan, there are both 入学式 (“School Entrance Ceremonies”) and 卒業式 (“School Graduations”) for kindergarten, elementary school, junior high school, high school and college.

- In America, school grades are counted as 1 -5 for 小学校 (elementary school), 6-8 for 中学校 (junior high) and 9-12 for 高等学校 (high school).
In Japan, 小学校 (elementary school) is six years (grades 小1-6), 中学校 (junior high) is three years (grades 中1-3), and 高等学校 (high school) is also three years (grades 高校 1-3).

There are many other differences…such as the way homework and tests are administered and checked, the manner that classes are arranged, the fact that Japanese students stand and greet their teacher at the beginning and end of each class, the way that students are trusted in empty classrooms alone…even in kindergarten.

I’d say that schools in Japan and America have more differences than similarities. And I think education and school life that my children are getting in Japan is superior to what I had in America.

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441 Responses to “How are Japanese schools different from America’s?”

  1. Blue Shoe July 29, 2010 at 1:51 pm #

    Interesting post. I don’t have much experience with Japanese primary school, but the two high schools I work at both have cafeterias with lunch ladies and a few choices.

    I feel bad for Japanese students. I guess it’s fine for them because they all go through it and it’s what they know, but the fact that they essentially have no vacations is rough. As you mentioned, the homework is piled on and students must still come to school for club activities. Seems like there really is no life and no friends outside of school for them.

    • tokyo5 July 29, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

      >Interesting post.

      Thank you.

      >both have cafeterias with lunch ladies and a few choices.

      At my daughters’ high school, there is no school lunch like they had in elementary and junior high. The students all bring a 弁当 (packed lunch).
      Just as most Japanese mothers do, my wife wakes up early every morning and prepares their lunches.

      >I feel bad for Japanese students.

      I don’t think you need to.

      >homework is piled on and students must still come to school for club activities. Seems like there really is no life and no friends outside of school for them.

      Believe me, Japanese kids enjoy their school life and their clubs. And they have more than enough time for a social life.

      American schools give too much holiday time. Every year when I was a kid, my friends and I would be excited at the start of summer holiday…but it was so long we’d finally get bored and into trouble!

      • Alina Shalisa March 24, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

        Barefoot?
        That would never happen in either Japan nor America!

        # I guess it just happen in my school, in my class also ^^”

        By “they”, do you mean “American students” ?

        Yes, summer vacation is long at American schools.

        #Nope, I mean the Japanese student. At June, they have a holiday or at the school already?

        Private schools in Japan are often affiliated with a unlversity… the students continue all their education from kindergarten to unlversity there.

        #Private Schools are better in Japan I think :) University? It just like schools in Singapore. Our schools in Indonesia, public school expecially don’t affiliated with university. We use our national exam marks to enter the Unversity. Start this year, they’ll be no entrance exam to University. I guess because of that, we must work hard since grade 10 in high school -_-

        Question:
        1. Are your children in highschool too?
        2. What kind of extracurricular do they take?
        3. Can you tell me about the extracurricular in Japanese school?
        4. How are the Japanese school rules about uniforms? I mean in my school, there are some rules that we can’t wear a very-short socks to school, and we must wear a black shoes in monday – friday and free coloured shoes in the Saturday :D tell me about it

        Sorry if the questions are too much, thanks for reply and answering my questions :D

      • tokyo5 March 24, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

        School is still in session in June here … summer vacation is in August.

        My youngest is in high school … the older two have graduated.

        In Japanese schools, clubs and teams vary slightly at each school … but common ones are:
        Baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, tennis, volleyball, kendo, judo, brassband, computer, art, track-and-field, etc

        My daughters were in the Cooking club, Guitar club, and Basketball team respectively.

        And, of course, there are rules about dress code.
        For example, Japanese students can’t change their hair color or get a perm.
        Boys must have short hair … boys on the junior high baseball team are expected to have very short hair.
        Jewelry, watches, etc are forbidden.
        Cellphones are also forbidden.

      • half japanese half american December 1, 2013 at 5:02 am #

        I live in America and go to school im the summer. Life there isn’t that bad. but I still don’t want to live there. The only thing terrible ist that since American, everyone wants to know MORE ad MORE.

      • tokyo5 December 1, 2013 at 7:53 am #

        You go to school in the summer in America?

        What do they want to know more and more about?

      • Anonymous January 17, 2014 at 11:21 am #

        american schools are pretty bad there are some smart kids but alot of bullys im a 10 grade high school student from Florida and im interested in going to japan do you have any suggestions for learning japanese

      • tokyo5 January 17, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

        >alot of bullys

        Are you a victim of bullying? Be sure to tell an adult (teacher and/or parent) about it!

        >from Florida

        Do you live in Florida? Which part? I grew up in the Tampa Bay area.

        >im interested in going to japan do you have any suggestions for learning japanese

        Have you talked to your parents and school guidance councilor about it?
        Maybe you could do a student-exchange. Or maybe take Japanese-language classes.

    • M.Brito October 18, 2012 at 11:52 am #

      @Blue Shoe

      Hello, I just had to reply your comment.
      I am an exchange student in a high school of the south of Japan. Is a technical high school kind of famous around here, but most of the students don’t go to university, they usually just go to an specific training course for kind of 2 years and then find a good job. They sad it is because the population of young people are reducing in number.

      Please don’t feel bad for japanese high school students. It is true that we don’t have that many vacations, but we do have once at time a day with no school in the middle of the week. And like at anywhere in the world, exist the students who like to study a lot and don’t go out that much, and are the students who like to go out with friends.

      Most of the people I met do enjoy themselves with friends at the karaoke or taking purikuras (a instant photo). They usually do have friends from others schools and they meet at the weekends to have fun or eat out.,They have friends from the middle school time, they have to take exams to go to high school, so many of them cant manage to go to the same school, but they still keep in contact.
      The school is not that difficult, I think, but my classmates do complain a lot. The thing I hear the most is “imi wakaranai” (I cant understand the point of this).

      Math is really easy, I think the level is kind of low at this point, but I heard that do exist schools with high level disciplines that are preparing students for good universities.
      Life is fun, we are really busy. But we are with friends all the time, so it is fun.

      Japanese high school students are normal, and they have enough time to relax. But I heard from my exchange friend from the U.S that the school in Japan is hard. I think that maybe the level of the school she went at U.S was low. I cant say. (because in this exchange company they care to the schools of the students in Japan are close between each others although we live in different places)

      • tokyo5 October 18, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

        >don’t feel bad for japanese high school students.

        Just as I said. ;)

      • Patrick April 16, 2014 at 6:05 am #

        American schools are definitely very low level education. I am a US citizen, born and raised in the Southern California, Los Angeles area. I can safely say that US public education is the worst. The school work is not challenging at all, and the students by enlarge are undisciplined, lazy, and lack work ethic. They have it easy yet they complain bitterly about the work load. Our school NEED more academic rigor or the amount of low skilled labor in the US is going to double. Also I dont know how it varies in Japanese schools, but in US schools in the area I lived in, students were all very violent. Fighting almost proved everything, and in some cases the campuses would break out into full on gang riots, where swat and police had to pepper spray and arrest several students.

      • tokyo5 April 16, 2014 at 7:49 am #

        SWAT teams and pepper spray?
        Dangerous!

        No, nothing like that in Japan!
        There are almost no fights at all in Japanese schools.

    • kchoze September 9, 2013 at 11:45 pm #

      Don’t feel bad for Japanese students. Clubs are optional in high school, but most will choose one still because they offer opportunities to meet friends and for social life. All around the world, teens’ social life tends to be built around schools, which are communities of people of similar age to them. The densely built Japanese cities and the lack of school buses also offer students more freedom of mobility, something suburban students in North America severely lack (suburbs are prisons to those without cars).

      There is a reason why it sometimes seem all of Japanese pop culture is obsessed about their school years, it’s their golden years. After that, they get locked into the soul-crushing Japanese job market, where overtime is expected of everyone, because no one wants to leave before the boss. Social life disappears because of the time spent (often wasted) in the office. And for the women, many become housewives and are bored because of a lack of stimuli.

      • tokyo5 September 10, 2013 at 12:06 am #

        Even adults have hobbies and social lives. Most of them, at least, I’d say.

        > The densely built Japanese cities…offer students more freedom of mobility, something suburban students in North America severely lack

        You’re comparing cities to suburbs. The country is irrelevant in that comparison.
        In less urban areas of Japan, though there are still train stations, there are much less than in the cities.
        And…in big U.S. cities such as New York, there are trains and subways.

  2. Earnest Mercer July 30, 2010 at 12:02 am #

    I generally agree that the discipline and curriculum exceeds the quality of that in the U. S., but on my visits to classrooms during my stay in the 1970s, I noticed what I believe to be shortcomings: 1) the use of rote; 2) the low emphasis on non-academic development: 3) and the lack of encouragement for individual challenges. (A proverb paraphrased: “The nail that sticks out must be driven down.”)
    My daughter attended the American High School in 1975/6. She had to ride a bus, then a train, then another bus. One time, what seemed to be an urgent announcement came over the train’s intercom, the train stopped and everyone exited. Unable to understand Japanese, she had no idea what the incident was all about. But, my levelheaded daughter simply hailed a taxi, gave the driver her meishi and went home. Her long blond hair seemed to attract lots of help from other teenagers.

    • tokyo5 July 30, 2010 at 12:33 am #

      Did you visit Japanese schools while you were in Japan? They’re quite different from U.S. schools, aren’t they?

      And it’s true that Japanese schools focus on rote style learning more than U.S. schools do but it seems to work…my kids learned a higher level in math, science, history , etc than I did when I was a student.

      And they say that American schools foster individuality more than Japanese (and other Asian countries’) school systems…but I’m not sure that I agree.

      And regarding the proverb 「出る釘は打たれる」 (“The protruding nail will get hammered down”)…this is often quoted in the west as a kind of proof that Japanese culture stifles individuality and free-thinking.
      But that expression is meant to describe the situation of someone unwilling to follow society’s rules…not someone with a unique personality.

      Anyways, that’s good that your daughter was able to take care of herself in such a situation.
      How long did she attend school in Japan? Was it the “American School In Japan” that she attended? Did she learn the Japanese language well?
      And…did she carry a business card?

      • D_Sie March 19, 2012 at 3:59 am #

        I would like to note that the fact that your children learned a higher level math than you did is not indicative of how advanced Japanese schools are compared you your American learning. In fact, I have found that a higher class of learning seems to be an overall trend in the world, as the same has happened to me (a former American high school student) compared to my parents, who also learned from American schools. Otherwise, I agree with your reply and have found the initial post above very informative.

      • tokyo5 March 19, 2012 at 10:51 pm #

        >I have found that a higher class of learning seems to be an overall trend in the world

        Really?
        Well, even if that’s the case, I still think Japan’s school system is superior. My reasons aren’t only academic…the school system in general is better.

        >..post above very informative.

        Thank you.

      • Alina Shalisa March 23, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

        i’m here to comment about this topic :) sorry before because my english not so good. Actually, the schools in my country have much similarity (I’m Indonesian). 6 years for the elementary school, 3 years for junior high, and 3 more for the high school. The difference is:

        1. We must wear uniforms since elementary school (kindergarten too, actually)
        2. We wear shoes in the class, but we always clean it everyday
        3. In elementary school, most of them dont have canteen, but in junior high they have it.

        Yeah, we both do the extracurricular and we have fewer days off too. We have 4 weeks off too in Indonesia. 2 weeks at the end of year (December) and 2 weeks at July. Our school starts at July and end at Juny.

        I really want to hear comments, so just reply please?

      • tokyo5 March 23, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

        Do elementary schools in Indonesia have uniforms? Even public schools?

        In Japan, private elementary schools have uniforms … but public school students don’t wear them until junior high.

        And students in your country clean their school too?
        But they wear outdoor shoes inside?
        It’s easier to keep the school clean when indoor shoes are worn inside the building.

        The school year ends in June there? It’s similiar to America.
        In Japan, the school year has just ended.

        And … of course I reply to your comment!
        Please comment often.

        By the way, are you a student now?

      • Alina Shalisa March 23, 2013 at 10:15 pm #

        Do elementary schools in Indonesia have uniforms? Even public schools?

        Answer : Yes, even the public school :) There are national uniforms that wear by all students in Indonesia ( white top and red skirt/pants for elementary school, white top and dark blue skirt/pants for junior high, white top and grey skirt/pants for high school). But every school have their identity uniform too. The private schools and public schools are almost same here…

        In Japan, private elementary schools have uniforms … but public school students don’t wear them until junior high.

        #Understood, I often see them in manga or anime :D

        And students in your country clean their school too?
        But they wear outdoor shoes inside?
        It’s easier to keep the school clean when indoor shoes are worn inside the building.

        Answer : yeah, we always clean our school everyday, but the strange is, well, we wear outdoor shoes inside -.- Youre right, sometimes after cleaning the class, the students in my class take off their shoes and follow the lesson with bare foot ^^

        The school year ends in June there? It’s similiar to America.
        In Japan, the school year has just ended.

        #And they got a long holiday, right?

        And … of course I reply to your comment!
        Please comment often.

        By the way, are you a student now?

        Answer : Yup, Im a highschooler now in Indonesia. And I go to public school. In my city the quality of public school are much better than private school [its a small city :)] How about Japan?

      • tokyo5 March 24, 2013 at 2:10 am #

        >students in my class take off their shoes and follow the lesson with bare foot

        Barefoot?
        That would never happen in either Japan nor America!

        >they got a long holiday, right?

        By “they”, do you mean “American students” ?

        Yes, summer vacation is long at American schools.

        >How about Japan,?

        Private schools in Japan are often affiliated with a unlversity… the students continue all their education from kindergarten to unlversity there.

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      • tokyo5 May 25, 2013 at 2:02 am #

        Thank you.

        What project is that?

  3. M garcia July 30, 2010 at 4:03 am #

    Another big difference is that parents can visit US school at any time so they can get involved in the daily life of school together with their children. In the other hand, Japanese schools are closed and lack enough technology to teach computer and other stuff to their kids as American School do. Kids at any age need free time as this is the way that they learned more instead of memorizing bunch of chinese characters and mathematics formulas.

    • tokyo5 July 31, 2010 at 12:42 am #

      >Another big difference is that parents can visit US school at any time

      Parents can visit their kid’s school in Japan anytime, too.
      But I think kids, especially teens, in both Japan and the U.S. wouldn’t want their parents visiting the school except on Parents Day when all the parents come.

      >so they can get involved in the daily life of school together with their children.

      Parents are very involved in their kid’s school life in Japan.
      In kindergarten, kids have a small notebook that the parents and teachers keep notes in about what the kid’s temperature was, how / what he ate, how he acted, etc.
      And even in elem, JHS, SHS parents call their students home and talk to parents if the student is absent, and teachers often send notes home for the parents.

      >Japanese schools are closed and lack enough technology to teach computer and other stuff to their kids as American School do.

      Why do you think so?
      As I stated above, the schools aren’t closed to parents, and although Japanese schools don’t usually have computers in the classrooms (because writing by hand is important too), they have Computer Class.

      Also, Japan has “technical high schools” where kids can begin learning a skill while they’re in high school.

      >Kids at any age need free time

      Japanese kids have plenty of “free time”.

      >as this is the way that they learned more instead of memorizing bunch of chinese characters and mathematics formulas.

      It’s true that learning social skills in important, I wouldn’t say it’s “more” (or less) important than learning to be literate and how to do arithmetic.

    • kyle May 30, 2012 at 10:49 am #

      uhmmmmmm ok you are so wrong and retarded . as you can see moms cant visit us school eneytime are you retarded and why would you want tht you have to have additional time as well as japan . i hate america so much i hate .. im moving to japan soon . cus america sucks balls and thers no eduacation.

      • American student May 30, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

        One you have serious issue’s with amercia. Two it depend on what state u went to school in because some States do things differently & it depends on the kids in your school. And third amercia does not sucked it has its faults yes but there are some great things too my country as I’m sure there is to yours. We have changed a lot over the years you know.

      • tokyo5 May 30, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

        >you are so wrong and retarded .

        No matter who you’re addressing with this comment, there are better ways to express a difference of opinion than with insults.

        >i hate america so much

        Why?

        >im moving to japan soon .

        Are you really? What will you do in Japan?

        >thers no eduacation.

        Are you purposely using incorrect grammar, spelling and puncuation to make that point?

      • tokyo5 May 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

        >you have serious issue’s with amercia.

        No, I don’t.
        If you’re replying to a comment by another visitor to my blog, please address them in your comment…otherwise it might appear you’re “talking” to me (the blog’s owner).

        Thanks.

        >amercia does not sucked…We have changed a lot over the years

        As I said, the “anti-America” comment that I believe you’re replying to wasn’t written by me.

  4. Casey July 30, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

    For what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure nowadays most American elementary schools, middle schools, etc., have graduation ceremonies.

    • tokyo5 July 31, 2010 at 12:44 am #

      Really? Do they have “Entrance Ceremonies” too?

      Also, Japanese schools have 「運動会」 (“Sports Day” events).

      And beginning in elementary school in Japan, kids take “swimming class”.
      I never swam in school in America…not even in high school.

      • Nitro November 12, 2010 at 8:17 am #

        There aren’t entrance ceremonies that I’m aware, but most American schools do have graduation ceremonies.

        Swimming is considered a sport in U.S. schools. It’s an option in many high schools for the students to join a swim team, as well as various other sports teams. Some middle schools have sports teams, too.

      • tokyo5 November 13, 2010 at 1:35 am #

        >There aren’t entrance ceremonies (in U.S. schools)

        Yeah, I’ve never heard of that in the U.S.

        >most American schools do have graduation ceremonies.

        Including kindergartens, elementary and junior high schools?

        >Swimming is considered a sport in U.S. schools. It’s an option in many high schools for the students to join a swim team

        Japanese schools have “swimming class” in the summer (even in elementary school).

      • blissflower1969 April 25, 2012 at 2:39 am #

        I can attest that the graduation thing in the US has gotten out of control. My daughter had a “graduation ceremony” for preschool, kindergarten, and elementary. She’s an 8th grader this year, and I haven’t heard if they’re having a middle school graduation as well, but she’s had ceremonies the whole way through. Kinda irritates me, personally, but it’s the trend now.

      • kyle May 30, 2012 at 10:53 am #

        they also do relays outside everyday. and they also study with partners sometimes in class. america sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and its nastey and disgusting and how the people behave ther ughh so many drug addicts and lo life and no job people. trash everywher. lol japan has none of tht

      • tokyo5 May 30, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

        @kyle…

        I wonder why you would make such a comment.
        Do you live in America? What part?

  5. unendingdreams July 31, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    Nice post!
    It seems that Japanese schools are tougher than American schools.

    • tokyo5 August 1, 2010 at 1:13 am #

      >Nice post!

      Thank you.

      >It seems that Japanese schools are tougher than American schools.

      Yes, more difficult…but I believe better—not only academically, but in general.

      • American student May 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

        That’s not true. We have things in our country that Japan couldn’t even compare to and all u guys are is a bunch of stupid snobs.

        (edited due to vulgar language)

      • tokyo5 May 30, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

        >That’s not true. We have things in our country that Japan couldn’t even compare to and all u guys are is a bunch of stupid snobs.

        You may have noticed that I edited your comment since you used rude language (I left the uncalled-for insults, though).

        Personally, I don’t have a problem with “bad words”…but since the internet is open to everyone of all ages, I believe people should use socially-acceptable language.

        So, I’d appreciate it if you kept your comments “clean”. Thank you.

        To reply to your comment—

        My post here is to show some examples of how Japanese and American schools differ. And that I personally feel that the Japanese education system is superior.

        If you feel otherwise, I’d be interested in some examples.

    • tokyo5 April 27, 2012 at 12:26 am #

      @”blissflower1969″

      >I can attest that the graduation thing in the US has gotten out of control. My daughter had a “graduation ceremony” for preschool, kindergarten, and elementary….Kinda irritates me,

      Do you think it’s too much? I have gone to both “Opening Ceremonies” and “Graduation Ceremonies” for each of my kids…for every school they’ve been to.
      It’s a lot of ceremonies…but I think it’s good.

      By the way, isn’t “pre-school” the same as “kindergarten”?

      I bet the graduation ceremonies are very different compared to a ceremony at a school in Japan.

  6. K@ August 2, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    I disagree that the students are at any higher or lower level than in America*. I think it’s a matter of motivation. I teach in several very rural schools in Nagasaki Prefecture, and in my experience, there are students who know and understand quite a bit–the motivated ones, and those who don’t–the unmotivated ones. Obviously providing some leeway for quality of teachers and schools, I believe it’s the same in America.

    However, I think it’s important to note the difference in urban education in Japan versus rural. For example, supposedly in Nagasaki-ken, every classroom should have a television inside it. Not in my schools. Also, there is a significant technological gap–my schools still use VHS in many cases, and many of my students find typing difficult. And I do find that out-of-the-box creative thinking tends to be discouraged. In most cases, students are given a specific, prescribed problem to complete. When offered something open ended, even the older/more advanced students flounder. I even encounter this in art classes (which, I must say, I am pleased that at least on the Middle School/Elementary levels are as emphasized as they are… not so in my schools in America). We go out for a day of painting or drawing, and the students bring back things that look identical.

    Another difference is that there’s no concept of being “held back” for underperformance. (And, likewise, no “skipping ahead” for overperformance.) Not quite sure how I feel about that, because it is important to keep peer groups together, at the same time, I have students who don’t go to school for a full year, and when they get back–well, they enter the next grade level rather than the one they didn’t attend. I think that adversely affects those students’ ability to succeed in classes.

    I’ve had a lot of other culture shocks with the school system, but I think I’ll stop there. :)

    * (exempting Math and Science, for which rote memorization is ably suited, and Japanese students, I would say, perform better than their American counterparts.)

    • tokyo5 August 3, 2010 at 2:24 am #

      Well, my kids are getting a better education than I had. And they’re more involved in their school life than I ever cared to be when I was their age.

      Even if the school that you teach at still uses VHS, I don’t see how that would matter. Japanese schools don’t use the television often in the classrooms anyways…and it doesn’t matter which video format they use (VHS or DVD etc).

      And it’s true that students who under-perform aren’t held back in Japanese schools…in Japanese culture, the belief is that every child is given the same opportunities to learn—how much they take advantage of the opportunity is up to them (that said, teachers and parents are involved to help motivate the kids).

      I still say that Japan’s school system is better than America’s. Not only the education…but they’re safer and easier for every child to be involved in school life (for example, in American schools, students who want to join a sports team must “try out” for the team and only the best are chosen. In Japan, every child is encouraged to join the club or team that they’re interested in…without “try outs”.)

      Anyways, are you in Nagasaki? How long have you been in Japan?
      Are you going to attend the “peace ceremony” in Nagasaki next week ( http://tokyo5.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/ww2-allies-in-japan/ ) ?

      • K@ August 3, 2010 at 11:18 pm #

        It’s certainly true that schools are safer here! And I do appreciate the sportsmanship and overall enthusiasm towards their classmates that usually occurs. (However, there are some halfies in my schools, and they get teased mercilessly, sometimes even bullied, because they act and/or look different. That’s always disturbing.)

        I was just using VHS as an example–there is a clear technological gap between many urban and rural schools, to the point where it feels as if my schools are still living in the late 80s/early 90s–when they were built. I’m fairly certain this is a budget issue, but it’s frustrating because their budgets are so often squandered. Case in point: the Board of Education recently purchased laptops for all the teachers in elementary and middle schools. That’s nice, except 1) most teachers already had laptops, and 2) five of those nine schools will be closing next year. Which means at least 50 laptops that didn’t need to be bought. That could upgrade an art lab, buy new instruments for the students, upgrade the computer labs, get new sports equipment–it’s ridiculous.

        Still, that sort of waste occurs in america, too.

        I am not in Nagasaki City, but the prefecture. I’m traveling now, so no Peace Ceremony, but I’ve witnessed it at my schools before. I’ve been living in Japan for about two years, now.

      • tokyo5 August 5, 2010 at 1:48 am #

        >some halfies in my schools, and they get teased

        Yes, sometimes children who are half-Japanese get bullied. But I don’t think it happens so much anymore…my children, thankfully, had no experience like that.

        Anyways, there are bullies in every country, unfortunately. And they pick on other kids for a variety of reasons…not only race.

        >there is a clear technological gap between many urban and rural schools

        I guess that’s likely true.

      • Ryan August 8, 2010 at 10:10 pm #

        > they’re more involved in their school life than I ever cared to be when I was their age.

        That probably says more about them than the school system.

        There has always been a huge amount of variability in the US system — and now there’s more variability in the Japanese system than ever.

        I taught in 4 schools in Osaka briefly — the best school was a *dream*. The worst a complete and utter dystopian NIGHTMARE.

      • tokyo5 August 8, 2010 at 10:24 pm #

        “Ryan”,

        Thanks for the comment.

        I think children in Japan and more involved in their school than kids in America.

        In Japanese JHS and SHS, nearly every kid is in a club or team of some kind.

        There aren’t “try-outs” in Japanese schools like American schools have to join a team.
        Japanese join the team or club that they’re interested in and practice to improve.

        My kids have been in a club every year in junior and senior high.
        But when I was a student in America, I never joined a school team…couldn’t have been bothered.

        Not only after-school activities, but also school field trips, lunch, and in the classes…the students in Japan feel like a part of their school.

        I never felt that way when I was a student. I enjoyed my school years enough but I the only feeling I ever had about school when I was a kid was that I couldn’t wait to graduate.

        Anyways, do you live in Osaka?
        And what was wrong with the school that was a “nightmare”?

    • Loren November 14, 2010 at 3:22 am #

      I taught in Osaka prefecture and I had several students who were held back a year for underperformance.

      • tokyo5 November 14, 2010 at 3:38 am #

        Really?
        I guess it’s possible that Osaka’s school system is different from Tokyo’s, but I don’t see how…because in Japan the federal government makes the rules and standards for education, health care, taxes, etc.

        Was it a private school that you taught at?

      • Loren November 17, 2010 at 3:16 am #

        No, it was a public school. It was uncommon, but particularly from the 1st years there was a student held back every year or two.

      • tokyo5 November 17, 2010 at 10:27 pm #

        >It was uncommon

        Yes, it must be because I have never heard of that happening in Japan.

  7. Troo August 2, 2010 at 8:02 pm #

    Excellent post!

    I think too much credence is given in the West to this notion that children are “poor little things” who must be given lots of time off and mustn’t be put under any kind of pressure when the fact is that children are geared toward learning. The brain of the young human is a voracious learner, and we can learn faster and more accurately as children than we ever can as adults.

    Children need routine, and they need to learn. Giving them lots of free time to flop about in boredom does no-one any favours :D

    I also think it’s an excellent idea to have schoolchildren serve food to one-another, and be responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of their schools. It fosters respect for one’s fellow human being, and a humility that you can’t get in a culture where “the menial staff” do all the grotty jobs we’d rather not touch. In the West we tend to look down on serving staff, cleaners, and other such essential people as “beneath” us. And if you’re responsible for keeping your school clean, you have a pride in your school which deters you from vandalising it and which you will carry on with you in your adult life when you go out into the world and keep your offices and homes clean too.

    In short, I think your teenagers are indeed benefiting from a far superior education system :D

    • tokyo5 August 3, 2010 at 3:01 am #

      >Excellent post!

      Thank you.

      >Children need routine, and they need to learn. Giving them lots of free time to flop about in boredom does no-one any favours

      I agree.

      >I also think it’s an excellent idea to have schoolchildren serve food to one-another, and be responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of their schools.

      That’s true. Do schools in the UK do this too?

      >pride in your school which deters you from vandalising it

      There is very little vandalism in Japan at all.

      >I think your teenagers are indeed benefiting from a far superior education system

      I think so, too.

      • Troo August 4, 2010 at 12:00 am #

        > That’s true. Do schools in the UK do this too?

        Alas no. They do at nursery school, when you’re about three and “allowed” to hand out the milk or whatever, but once you’re five you have an education system which is sadly becoming more and more Americanised.

      • tokyo5 August 5, 2010 at 1:52 am #

        Is the UK education system changing to becoming like America’s?
        In what other ways?

      • Troo August 5, 2010 at 2:15 am #

        We seem to be trying to get rid of the old Primary School / Secondary School system and replace it with High Schools, and introducing holding kids back for a year if they do poorly.

      • tokyo5 August 5, 2010 at 2:24 am #

        So, England is currently like Japan…in that students aren’t failed and made to repeat grades if they don’t do well?

  8. Roxy September 4, 2010 at 6:04 pm #

    interesting, I go to secondary school in Ireland. In Ireland you can be held back, and you can re-do your final exam if you are not happy with the results(you have to go back to school for a year). In primary schools you bring a packed lunch and in my secondary school you have a choice of a packed lunch or to buy something in the canteen(only became available 2-3- years ago).Learning Japanese is a senior cycle thing (after JC) over here and is not taught in my school, though I am interested in learning it. I like the after school club idea, we only have sports teams (luckily even though there have been cut-backs)or/and choir at my school(which is bad if you are bad at sport like me). I get 3 months holidays except in exam years (there are 2 exam years, Junior Cert and Leaving Cert) as the exams are still taking place after others in the school have holidays. We don’t take showers after gym(though there are showers). There aren’t entrance cereimonies. We have cleaners and such. You can do after school study(for a fee) which means you remain in the school, supervised doing study for about 3 hours. I would like to go on an exchange to Japan but i doubt I can learn enough Japanese, or that my parents would agree. Thanks ^^

    • tokyo5 September 4, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

      I had no idea how the school system is in Europe. Thanks for explaining it.

      >I would like to go on an exchange to Japan but i doubt I can learn enough Japanese

      Do you study Japanese now?

      • Roxy September 4, 2010 at 8:52 pm #

        No, it’s not thought in my school so I think I might try to teach myself.

      • tokyo5 September 4, 2010 at 8:54 pm #

        Are you interested in Japan?

  9. Roxy September 4, 2010 at 9:56 pm #

    Yes, it’s an interesting country. The culture is very different from Ireland.

    • tokyo5 September 4, 2010 at 11:36 pm #

      What part of Japanese culture are you most interested in?

      • Roxy September 18, 2010 at 11:17 pm #

        I am not really sure . . . . the language, I have also recently started karate, which I enjoy

      • tokyo5 September 19, 2010 at 2:11 am #

        空手 (Karate)? Very good.

        Have you seen the movie, “The Karate Kid“?

  10. Daniel September 17, 2010 at 9:41 am #

    hello i’m a tenth grader in philadelphia i’m interested in going to japan but I don’t really know how to start learning the language, is there a highschool that teaches japanese in philadelphia or how would I face the problem of learning japanese.

    • tokyo5 September 17, 2010 at 10:56 pm #

      I have no idea what types of schools are available in Philadelphia.

      Do you mean that you want to come to Japan on a school-exchange? Or just visit Japan?

      You can visit Japan without be able to speak Japanese…but if you want to go to a school in Japan you should be able to speak Japanese.

      >how would I face the problem of learning japanese.

      Maybe you could ask your school’s student-counselor for advice.

  11. Roxy September 19, 2010 at 3:03 am #

    >Have you seen the movie, “The Karate Kid“?

    I have only seen a bit of the original and none of the others. Though I would like to :)

    • tokyo5 September 19, 2010 at 12:36 pm #

      The original one is the best. (Part II, III and IV were OK but not great). The remake with Jackie Chan is very good too.

  12. Unknown November 9, 2010 at 12:47 pm #

    I’m from California in the United States. I had a graduation in kindergarten, elementry, junior highschool, and I’m gonna graduate highschool in less than 3 years. Plus some schools have the same amount of years as japan. Like elementry 1-6 and junior high 7-9 and highschool 10-12. I got to a 4 year highschool though.

    • tokyo5 November 9, 2010 at 11:15 pm #

      >I had a graduation in kindergarten, elementry, junior highschool, and I’m gonna graduate highschool in less than 3 years

      Another visitor to my site also told me that American schools have graduation ceremonies in earlier years.

      I’ve never heard of that in America before. Maybe it’s because I went to school years ago or maybe Florida’s different. (That’s another difference between Japanese and U.S. schools—in the U.S., school systems are different in each state. In Japan, there are local Boards of Education, but big decisions such as school books and curriculum are decided for the whole country by the national Dep’t of Education.)

      Are you in the 10th grade? My second daughter is also in the 10th grade (高校1年) this year.

  13. Catherine November 11, 2010 at 4:21 pm #

    I’m currently attending high school (10th) in Arizona and I have to say school in Japan does seem hard but I think the school you attended in Florida is slightly different to mine…First of all we do have graduations (in which by the way be practice how to walk and how to sit for about a week -_-‘)…Second of all in here we enter school on August and get out of school on May…There is school in June and July that is summer school:in middle school you have to go to summer school if you are failing a class, and in high school you can go if you are failing a class or if you want to get a class credit but they is a certain amount of money a student has to pay(Credits are what determine if you graduate or not..Students require to earn 23 credits and some classes are half a credit)

    Something interesting about my school (which not many schools have)is the Honors, IB and AP programs…This programs require harder classes and more work than regular classes…I dont know much about the Honors I think its just more work than usual…Im taking the IB program this requires highers level classes that take two years to be completed, this program also requires a student to take 8 test in which you have to score a 70% or better, students are also required to write an essay, and do community service (-_-)…This classes leave tons of homework (even on vacations like spring break) And I heard that with the IB program you can earn credits for college…The AP program is slightly easier because it is just one class (i.e AP Spanish ^^)and then you take a test and if you pass the credits are instantly transferred to college..you can take both AP classes and IB classes but that is just more work…

    All students in 10th grade are required to take a state test called the AIMS, and in order to graduate we have to pass those test..AIMS include Reading, Writing and Math (this are graded as Meets and Exceeds which is like 65% and above) if a student doesnt pass on their first try they have to take it again and again until they pass them…When we get to our last year of high school we have to work on a “senior project” 12th graders stress a lot over this because it takes months of preparation because they need to give a powerpoint presentation on a topic they have chosen which is often something related to their desired careers (with a limit of time) write an essay, make a portfolio in which they write their notes, and do community service…Students get an assigned date, time and class and they have to present in front of three judges (which many of them are proffesors of another state or even country).

    About being held back:…In high school they often warn you about a possibility of being held back but once a student fails a semester they send them to a vocational school, students might drop off high school at age 17…I think it is really hard to fail a class because they give you opportunities of coming to tutoring (transportation is available) or passing the final exam *one for each semester* Other test depend on the teacher, some teachers will give quizzez randomly just to test a students knowledge…Here in my school a student writes essays on every class! (including math >..< and I remember my first year of high school I got lost several times.

    I wish that helped you get a better concept of American schools ^^

    • tokyo5 November 12, 2010 at 1:02 am #

      Very detailed explanation. Thank you.

      I’m an American and I went to school in America but I had forgotten about “summer school” and “credit points”.

  14. Catherine November 12, 2010 at 5:02 am #

    How is the grading system from Japan different from the US????

    • tokyo5 November 13, 2010 at 1:32 am #

      Well, first of all, a lot of classroom work and homework isn’t “graded” at all by the teacher in a Japanese school.

      The teacher will check it and mark mistakes…but there won’t be a score on it.
      The students will then review it and fix the mistakes.

      Tests and “bigger” assignments are graded and scored.
      A “failing” score is much lower than in U.S. schools.

      Also, there are no “credits” needed to move up a grade in Japan’s schools. Every child who attends school will move to the next grade in the Spring.

  15. Nitro November 12, 2010 at 9:54 am #

    Very interesting post. I’m 15 and homeschooled (in 9th grade), so I don’t know that much about the social aspect of U.S. schools, but my mother is a teacher and I know a fair bit about the more technical aspects of the school system. (By the way, I’m fairly certain most American high schools are four-year high schools now.)

    This is going to stray into political territory as well, because it has a strong effect on the school system.

    I noticed in one of your comment responses that you said you thought your kids were getting a better education than you did, and that’s understandable — as far as I’m aware (though I’m hardly an expert), Japanese schools use a much different curriculum than American schools, and more is expected of the students.

    In America, society has a very different mentality than in Japan. These days, everyone has to have an opportunity — which is a good thing, but their opportunity requires them to work for it, as nothing should ever be simply handed to you — and if they are unable to make money or be successful, the government basically supports them, no matter the circumstances. By this, the “consequences” for not working are virtually nothing. The poor, rather than working to become successful and take care of themselves and their families, often rely on the government for provision. I won’t say all of them do, as there are many homeless people who haven’t been provided for, but the way America is going politically, they probably will be given the house I live in soon enough.

    Because of this mentality — “work and success aren’t required because it’s the government’s job to take care of the citizens” — many young people seem to think they’ll be just fine if they don’t work all that hard, because why wouldn’t they be? All these other people are fine. They treat life like they won’t have to work to provide for themselves, and it’s not quite true. They also honestly believe that the government SHOULD provide for them.

    In the experience I have with getting held back (I was never held back, myself, but someone close to me was), the schools in America are probably much, much more lax about passing grades. I believe that below 60% is a failing grade (below 60 is a D, below 50 is an F), though I’m not certain about that. It’s true that tutoring is available, as well as summer school, but really a student only has to barely scrape by to pass — in a sense, “teetering on the edge of failing” is “good enough”. I’m pretty sure summer school or tutoring would still be required if the grade was barely passing, but actually failing is rare. The person who almost got held back that I mentioned was almost forced to go to the next grade despite the fact that his understanding of the mathematics of his grade was minimal at best. Thankfully, his father was wise about it and demanded that something other than tutoring be done. He had to retake the year, but he did understand it the second time through. If that hadn’t happened, he would never have caught up in math, because math builds onto itself — if you miss something, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to understand the more advanced things. That applies with other subjects as well, but primarily with math. Not holding a student back can be damaging to their education, though holding them back may cause resentment or lack of motivation. My friend felt both, but I still think it was ultimately for the better.

    I have little love for the American public school system, but I disagree with the statement that the education in Japan is better, or even seems to be. The sheer diversity of both the people and (in the case of the U.S.) the schools makes it difficult to make such a general statement. I agree that having too much free time results in eventual boredom for most people, but this also depends on the person — I often find that I’m more industrious when I’m bored than when I’m occupied!

    The quality of education in America depends on the location of the school, the teachers, and, surprisingly, the students. Location isn’t as big of a factor, but it does make a difference as some cities and states have different standards. Teachers vary widely — my mother will testify to that — and their method of teaching depends on their predisposition, background, and where/how they were taught. Some teachers are stern while others are laid-back, and some are authoritative while others try to be the students’ friend.

    Students probably vary the most, however. There isn’t any one pupil that’s the same, though that’s true in Japan, as well, I’m sure. In some cases, though, there’ll be drastic differences in IQ or education levels in the same class, and it’s very difficult for any teacher to keep the more advanced students advancing and get the ones who are below average up to par. The lessons come out somewhere in the middle, and while the below average students may struggle, the advanced ones can become bored with the lessons, depending on their personality. Some students who are advanced aren’t quite advanced enough for the school to put them in any special class. That was how it was for me in the one semester I attended school, and I did get a little bored with the lessons. Some will say that it’s a strength in American schools that all the students are treated the same, but that’s not true. The students have to be handled differently because they are different.

    I don’t think it’s a fair statement to say that Japanese schools are better in general, either. Again, it depends very much on the child and what is required to meet that student’s educational needs. As a rule, though, I don’t like the American school system and I’m in no way eager to return to it, especially not now that I’m in high school.

    There are computers in many schools, but as far as I know they’re not for general use. We had three computers in my classroom when I attended, and I only used them once when I had a bit of free time for whatever reason. Most of the time, my teacher had us read if we finished assignments before the rest of the class, but I think I had forgotten to bring my book that day… In high school, I believe that computers are used more, but many things are done on paper. I’d go so far as to say most things, even.

    As a homeschooler, pretty much everything is hand-written with the occasional exception of final drafts on papers — in fact, my dad usually makes me hand-write the final drafts, too. There are frequently practice pages in the work books on which we have to practice proper letter formation and such. I would imagine that this is considerably easier than it would be with kanji, although I suppose I wouldn’t know.

    Anyway, I’m very interested in Japanese culture in general, as well as the Japanese language, but I don’t want to make this much longer than it already is. Hopefully I’ll be able to visit Japan someday and see a bit of what it’s like first-hand.

    Thank you for the interesting and informative post! I enjoyed learning a bit more about the cultural differences. :)

    • tokyo5 November 13, 2010 at 1:55 am #

      Such a long comment!

      >I’m 15 and homeschooled

      Really? That has become popular in America, hasn’t it?
      When I was growing up in America, I never even heard the term “home-school”.

      In Japan, home-school is almost completely unheard of.

      >I’m fairly certain most American high schools are four-year high schools now

      That’s how schools in Florida were (are?) when I lived there.
      Japanese high schools have three grades (because elementary school is six years, not five like in America).

      >as far as I’m aware (though I’m hardly an expert), Japanese schools use a much different curriculum than American schools, and more is expected of the students.

      Yes, that’s right. The school work and homework that my kids do is much more difficult than what I had to do at their age.

      >I believe that below 60% is a failing grade (below 60 is a D, below 50 is an F), though I’m not certain about that.

      If I remember correctly, 70% is just passing (69% is failing) in America’s schools.

      >I don’t think it’s a fair statement to say that Japanese schools are better in general, either.

      I think they are. Not only academically. But the social aspects of Japanese schools are better too.

      >I don’t like the American school system and I’m in no way eager to return to it

      Don’t you like being in a school with other kids your age?

      >There are computers in many schools, but as far as I know they’re not for general use.

      Don’t they have computers for students?
      Japanese schools have computer class (and a computer club).

      >we have to practice proper letter formation and such. I would imagine that this is considerably easier than it would be with kanji

      Do you practice writing the alphabet in American high school? Isn’t that elementary school level?
      But, as you said, Japanese kids must learn the proper why to write Japanese kanji characters (there are 2000 to learn by the end of high school).

      >I’m very interested in Japanese culture in general, as well as the Japanese language

      Really? What parts of Japanese culture do you like? And do you study the Japanese language?

      >Hopefully I’ll be able to visit Japan someday

      Yes, I think you should, if you get a chance.

      >Thank you for the interesting and informative post! I enjoyed learning a bit more about the cultural differences

      Thank you! Please comment often.

      • Nitro November 15, 2010 at 4:00 am #

        > Really? That has become popular in America, hasn’t it?

        “Popular” is a relative term, but yes, it’s definitely much more common than it used to be.

        > Yes, that’s right. The school work and homework that my kids do is much more difficult than what I had to do at their age.

        Interesting. My schooling has me generally doing more advanced things, or explains it in a more advanced way.

        > If I remember correctly, 70% is just passing (69% is failing) in America’s schools.

        I may be wrong, then. Still, it’s very low. Getting 30 out of 100 incorrect is a bad score.

        > I think they are. Not only academically. But the social aspects of Japanese schools are better too.

        Academically speaking, it’s more challenging, but as I said, the mentality of society (and therefore, of the students) is very different (in a good way for Japan). If America were to suddenly change to the same system as Japan, I don’t think many of the students would thrive. They have been conditioned to that way of learning. Because the way of thinking is so different, it’s hard to compare the curriculum. Socially, I agree that Japanese schools seem to teach the students to respect each other much more. At the same time, that also depends a lot on the student and their predisposition. That’s why I said it was unfair to say that the Japanese schools are better — the students, the cultures, and the mentalities are all too different to simply say one is better entirely than the other. I probably prefer the Japanese school system, but I still don’t think that’s fair to the kids who thrive in the American school system (albeit, they are few and far between).

        > Don’t you like being in a school with other kids your age?

        Sort of. I have plenty of friends who are also homeschooled, but I’m not all that social of a person in the first place. I was never very close to the kids in my class when I did attend school, except maybe a few. If I had the chance, I don’t think I would want to return to public school. As I said, the mentality of the students is much different here than in Japan, and the kids are probably more likely to treat others like outcasts for, say, religious or political views. (I’m a conservative Christian, and probably wouldn’t be received very kindly because I’m very outspoken and stubborn about my views.)

        > Don’t they have computers for students? Japanese schools have computer class (and a computer club).

        American schools have both of those, but in most classes, they aren’t used very much. It’s a bit of a wasted expense to put them in all the classrooms, though. The students use them for research and sometimes to take up time when a student finishes an assignment quickly in special education classrooms in elementary schools. My mother (who was a special ed teacher for twenty-something years) let her students play learning games on them (quietly) if they finished early, both as a reward and to keep them occupied, but most classes don’t do that.

        > Do you practice writing the alphabet in American high school? Isn’t that elementary school level?

        It’s elementary school level, but it’s very common for elementary teachers to let mistakes slide, and mistakes become habits. My brother had a writing quirk that was corrected by the letter formation practice. He would make his cursive d look like cl, and his cursive a’s and o’s were easy to mix up. Public schools don’t do that very much that I know of, but the curriculum we use does.

        > Really? What parts of Japanese culture do you like? And do you study the Japanese language?

        I’m very interested in the societal aspect, as well as the political aspect. The differences between Japanese and American culture fascinate me as well as the history and reasons behind traditions.
        I don’t go out of my way to study the language — I know a few things about it, but not much that’s actually conversational.

      • tokyo5 November 15, 2010 at 11:44 pm #

        >If America were to suddenly change to the same system as Japan, I don’t think many of the students would thrive.

        If American public schools suddenly followed the Japanese model, American kids probably wouldn’t like it (at least at first)…but I think it would definitely be an improvement.

        >I agree that Japanese schools seem to teach the students to respect each other much more.

        And their teachers and the school itself.

        >I’m a conservative Christian

        I was going to ask about that. I heard that religion is the biggest reason for the recent popularity of home-schooling in America.

        Does the public school education go against your religious beliefs?
        (Hope you don’t mind me asking. I usually try to avoid discussing religion because it’s an emotional topic for many people.
        As for myself though, I’m a non-believer and I live in a “secular” (non-religious) culture (Japan), so I’m interested in the ways religion affects some countries’ cultures.)

        >It’s a bit of a wasted expense to put them in all the (U.S. school) classrooms, though.

        Japanese classrooms don’t have computers in them. The computers are in the “Computer Class” room.
        I think that’s better. Writing by hand is important.

        >The students use them for research and sometimes to take up time when a student finishes an assignment

        Japanese kids use books to do research. And if they finish their work before their classmates, they study their notes.
        I think that’s better too (maybe I’m old-fashioned ;) ).

        >My mother…was a special ed teacher

        Does “Special Ed(ucation)” mean the class for mentally-handicapped children?

        >I’m very interested in the…differences between Japanese and American culture

        I see. Then I’ll try to write another post like this one in the near future.

        >I know a few things about it (Japanese language)

        Really? How did you learn? What, for example, do you know?

    • An American January 3, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

      It sounds like your the angry parent that hates the USA and not the 15 year old child.Our government doesn’t support people in the way you speak of.Yes,they do help people in need but that is usually for a limited time.Please get your facts straight before making our country sound like a place filled with horribly lazy people with no motivation.This certainly is not true from what I see.The USA has given most countries,including Japan the ability to propell themselves out of poverty and become what they are today.Move to another country if you don’t like it here.You sure sound unhappy with your life in good old America.

      • tokyo5 January 3, 2011 at 10:13 pm #

        >It sounds like your the angry parent that hates the USA and not the 15 year old child.

        Why would you think that?
        I don’t hate America…and I don’t think the kid who commented on this post (calling himself “Nitro”) does either.

        >Our government doesn’t support people in the way you speak of.

        In what way is that? I’m not exactly sure what you mean.

        >Please get your facts straight before making our country sound like a place filled with horribly lazy people with no motivation.

        I don’t think I gave that impression of any country.
        Anyways, this post is about the differences I’ve seen between the school systems in America and Japan…not comparing countries in general.

        >The USA has given most countries,including Japan the ability to propell themselves out of poverty and become what they are today.

        I wouldn’t say “most” countries…but America has helped many countries, including Japan. That’s true.

        But, at least in the case of Japan, it was also the citizens’ determination that played a large part in the country’s success.

        >Move to another country if you don’t like it here.

        Actually, if you check my “About Me” page you’ll see that, although I am an American, I haven’t lived in the U.S. for over twenty years now.

        >You sure sound unhappy with your life in good old America.

        What gives you that impression?
        I think America is a great country…I just like Japan more.

    • E. Smith January 22, 2013 at 9:41 am #

      It’s not merely “Oh I don’t have to work as the government will provide anything” but also “I will never amount to anything beyond menial work, so why bother trying in school”… or maybe kids see selling drugs as a path to making money, so why bother trying well in school – and social pressure against “being a school boy”

      Many families work long hours in menial jobs and still have to rely on welfare. Some forms of welfare (like disability) *discourage* working – as in you get in trouble if you get a job while on disability, but you don’t get in trouble if you don’t get a job

      • tokyo5 January 22, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

        > kids see selling drugs as a path to making money

        I think selling drugs is a path to prison.

  16. Catherine November 13, 2010 at 12:23 pm #

    I think I might agree with you that Japanese schools are better than American schools because in Japanese schools they are more challenging…

    Do Japanese schools have restrictions on cell phone use or other electronic devices like in American schools?
    Is it true Japanese students are required to take physical education all three years of high school??

    • tokyo5 November 13, 2010 at 7:15 pm #

      >Do Japanese schools have restrictions on cell phone use or other electronic devices like in American schools?

      Yes, of course. Elementary school and junior high school kids can’t bring phones, radios, etc to school at all.
      High school kids usually take the train to school, so they can bring their phone…but they must turn it off while they’re on school property.

      Isn’t it like that in American schools?

      >Is it true Japanese students are required to take physical education all three years of high school??

      Yes. Gym class is taken in every year of junior high and high school.

  17. Richard Corbet November 15, 2010 at 7:35 am #

    Hi I am visiting Japan in March and as a teacher of physical education would like to visit a Japanese school to experience a little of what is offered. Can you suggest the most appropriate approach? We will be in the Nagano region. Thanks.

    • tokyo5 November 15, 2010 at 11:56 pm #

      March would probably be difficult.
      The school-year ends in early to mid-March, then Spring Vacation begins until the new school year starts in early April.

      If you want to visit a Japanese school, I guess you could contact the local 教育委員会 (Board of Education) in the area of Nagano you’ll be in.

      I’d bet that if you told them that you want to see a typical Japanese school’s day…and maybe you could show them a unique game or exercise from your country’s gym class…they’d be interested.

      But I think another time of the year besides March / April would be better.

      • Nitro November 17, 2010 at 8:30 am #

        > If American public schools suddenly followed the Japanese model, American kids probably wouldn’t like it (at least at first)

        That’s definitely true.

        > …but I think it would definitely be an improvement.

        I can understand that, but it would be chaotic as grades dropped suddenly because of the abrupt change in learning style. Most students here are adjusted to their learning style and they would have a hard time learning to cope with a more pressuring system (at least, more pressuring to them).

        > And their teachers and the school itself.

        And probably government and other establishments, but that’s also partly the societal predisposition.

        > I was going to ask about that. I heard that religion is the biggest reason for the recent popularity of home-schooling in America.

        It probably is. I know most of my homeschooled friends are Christians, but that’s partly because of the “crowd I run with,” so to speak. There are secular homeschoolers, though.

        > Does the public school education go against your religious beliefs?

        Yes. That’s a big reason why I’m homeschooled. In public schools, evolution and atheistic origin-of-life theories are taught as if they’re true and it’s pretty much implied that religions are false (though one might argue that atheism itself is a religion). I could deal with the theories being taught as theories, but when it’s all but stated that they are fact when they aren’t scientifically proven at all, that’s what irritates me.
        Anyway, the environment can be oppressive and painful to deal with. I doubt it’s abnormal for religious kids to get picked on by both teachers and students.
        (And yes, there have been issues of teachers treating students poorly for personal beliefs. It’s not terribly common or normal, but sadly, it happens.)

        > Hope you don’t mind me asking.

        Not at all. :)

        > I usually try to avoid discussing religion because it’s an emotional topic for many people. As for myself though, I’m a non-believer and I live in a “secular” (non-religious) culture (Japan), so I’m interested in the ways religion affects some countries’ cultures.

        I don’t mind discussing it.
        Christians in American society are generally not accepted if they’re very passionate about and true to their faith. It’s a bit abnormal here. Many elected Presidents were Christians or theists, though I do wonder often if they were actually Christians or if that was just a political boost.
        The United States was founded on Biblical principles and freedom to exercise religious beliefs, so a lot of religions have influenced American culture. America is known as the “melting pot” because of the multiculturalism…though, I’ll admit, I have questioned before whether there was ever much acceptance. There were many cases in American history that immigrants were treated with disdain and discrimination. Modernly, that sort of a prejudice isn’t much of a problem at all, and yet the -ism terms are being thrown around left and right! Sexism, racism, and various other discriminations are common accusations.
        There is discrimination in the country, but it’s often against people who are perceived as discriminatory. For example, when Barack Obama was running for the Presidency, the term “racist” was being thrown around very loosely. It was hard to openly dislike him (I don’t agree with his policies, regardless of skin color) because he’s a black man.
        But I’m rambling now… Christianity has had quite an effect on culture here, as have many other religions, though it’s getting harder to be true to one’s convictions and not offend people here.

        > Japanese classrooms don’t have computers in them. The computers are in the “Computer Class” room.
        I think that’s better.

        I agree.

        > Writing by hand is important.

        Most of the assignments are written by hand in public schools. That’s what I meant when I said that computers aren’t for general use. At any rate, I agree.

        > Japanese kids use books to do research.

        I often use both. I think many kids do research on both the internet and in books, but the internet is more convenient, and so more common.

        > And if they finish their work before their classmates, they study their notes.
        I think that’s better too (maybe I’m old-fashioned ;) ).

        Nah, not old-fashion! I agree. When I attended school, I didn’t take much in the way of notes. I learn by listening and I found that when I tried to take notes, I couldn’t concentrate on what I was hearing as much, but that was elementary school. If I were in school now, I’d probably have to take notes. As it was, reading sufficed, though that’s probably an equally good thing in elementary school.

        > Does “Special Ed(ucation)” mean the class for mentally-handicapped children?

        In part, yes, and that was the part she worked with. (In many high schools, they don’t have a separate class, but have special programs so that the mentally-handicapped kids can mingle with their other classmates.) It also means the class or program for very advanced kids (as in, beyond their grade level), though I don’t know as much about how that works.

        > I see. Then I’ll try to write another post like this one in the near future.

        That’d be great! This one was very interesting, and I’ve learned quite a bit.

        > How did you learn?

        My brother takes Japanese as a second language (he just started this year, though), so he taught me a little. I picked up some knowledge about honorifics (that’s what I’ve heard them called, though I’m not sure it’s the correct term — the -san, -kun, -sama, etc.) from reading manga (though that wasn’t my intent).
        In the English translations of a lot of manga, there are notes about changes in manner of speech and such, so I learned a bit from that. Usually they leave the honorifics if they’re being used.

        > What, for example, do you know?

        I know some about honorifics and familial titles. I have an idea of the use of “ore” and “boku” (both mean “me” or refer to oneself, but “ore” is kind of a tough or strong version, while “boku” is more meek, if I’m correct — though even my grasp of that is shaky at best, as I don’t have a good understanding of the Japanese language system or sentence structure), and I know some various nouns (mostly names of animals). I don’t know anything that would actually be useful in regular conversation, though. I’m actually reluctant to say I have a firm grasp of any of it since I don’t formally study Japanese.

      • tokyo5 November 17, 2010 at 11:04 pm #

        >most of my homeschooled friends…

        Is home-schooling very popular in America now?
        As I mentioned, home-schooling is basically non-existent in Japan.

        >In public schools, evolution and atheistic origin-of-life theories are taught as if they’re true

        But isn’t it supposed to be like that with “public” schools? Private religious schools teach religious doctrine, but public schools are separated from any church.

        Anyways, in Japan, no one questions evolution being scientific fact.

        >atheism itself is a religion

        I don’t see how anyone could say that.

        >I doubt it’s abnormal for religious kids to get picked on by both teachers and students.

        Do you think so? I heard that about 75% of Americans consider themselves a “Christian”.

        >Christians in American society are generally not accepted

        America is usually considered a “Christian country”.

        >Many elected (U.S.) Presidents were Christians

        They all have been, I believe.

        In Japan, almost no one believes in or practices any religion.
        I have been living in Japan for most of life now so I’m more used to Japanese culture than American. I have never heard any Japanese politician mention religion (and would feel uncomfortable if they did).

        >Barack Obama…I don’t agree with his policies

        For example, which ones?

        >it’s getting harder to be true to one’s convictions and not offend people here.

        How’s that?

        >This one (post) was very interesting, and I’ve learned quite a bit.

        Thanks.

        >My brother takes Japanese as a second language

        Isn’t your brother home-schooled too?

        >In the English translations of a lot of manga, there are notes about changes in manner of speech and such

        Really? I have only ever read Japanese manga and watched Japanese movies in Japanese.
        I would like to see how they’re translated into English.

        >I have an idea of the use of “ore” and “boku” (both mean “me” or refer to oneself, but “ore” is kind of a tough or strong version, while “boku” is more meek

        Yes, Ore and Boku are both casual ways for men / boys to say “me”.
        There are a number of ways to say both “me” and “you” and they range from very polite to very rude.

        Feel free to write comments on my blog in Japanese if you want to practice.

  18. Eric December 7, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

    I am an American living and teaching in Japan. I grew up in California (Oakland/Berkeley/Hayward area) and I attended both private and public schools. Though there are many differences between American and Japanese schools, to say that one is superior to the other is not accurate. Though discipline issues and study habits are better in Japan, the way students learn in Japan is far inferior than in the states. Japanese math and science levels are far superior to their American couterparts at all levels, but in other areas Japanese lag behind because of the way education is contructed. The best way that I can describe the system of teaching in Japan is “factory line” methodology. Teachers have a mandated educational curriculum given them and they must keep pace with the teaching of that curriculum whether students are getting it or not. It has been said that most students in Japan are getting the same material at the same time in the same grade whether they live in the far southern islands or the upper most frigid areas of Hokkaido. Most students in Japan (including the kids studying at my private junior high/high school) sit quietly in class without ever questioning their instructor. Teachers enter the classroom and “teach” without pause for 50-60 minutes. When class is over, if individual students did not understand the material, it is up to them to seek after school enrichment through a system called “juku” in Japan. It is a brutal system where students memorize and regurgitate information on standardized tests. Little is given many times to understanding material, and the goal of every student in the all important entrance exam. Passing these exams may place students into schools with good or even great reputations, but still the question remains about the quality of the education even at these schools of high reputation. My own school, for example, has an excellent reputation for study and sports, but the actual performance of my students is not what I remember in the states. In America, I was expected to exercise my brain during class with question/answer sessions with the instructor. Debate/counter debate were common practices. In America, many students are expected to do lots of writing and research, but in Japan it is not a very common thing. Speech giving, debate forums, student-centered activities, student-led activities are for the most part non-existent in Japan. In America, a failing grade was, when I was in school, below the 70 percentile. But in Japan, 50% is average. On a typical 100 point exam in Japan, the vast majority of students are right around 50 percent or slightly higher, and that all depends upon the school. And in America, students who do not perform adequately or meet standard requirements are forced to repeat grades at all levels. Students in Japan are only required to attend school up through junior high school while high school and university are elective. During the required years of general education from elementary through junior high school, students who fail regularly move up with everyone else. I have been teaching in Japan for quite a number of years (more than 10) and every year without fail, students who fail all of their exams still graduate and move on with their classmates. I find the differences to be very great, too, but I do not see Japanese education as superior to American education at all. I see discipline issues in America as very serious and I do see problems with regional districts. For example, I grew up in the bay area and the Oakland/Berkeley school district in particular and they have possibly the worst school system in the states. Students learn little and spend a lot of time on some newly introduced liberal education that focuses on social issues and less on realia and practical matters that will aid students in adult life. But compare that to the school districts in my sisters part of the US, Dallas area schools and the public education there is far superior, equipping students to excel in university and beyond. So, before we really bash one system over the other, we should look at all the particulars first.

    • tokyo5 December 7, 2010 at 10:22 pm #

      >I am an American living and teaching in Japan.

      What part of Japan are you living in? When did you come to Japan?

      >American and Japanese schools…to say that one is superior to the other is not accurate.

      I think that because of the differences it is possible to say one is better than the other.

      >the way students learn in Japan is far inferior than in the states.

      Not in my experience.

      >students in Japan are getting the same material at the same time in the same grade

      Because the main curriculum in Japanese schools is decided by the federal Dep’t of Education.

      >Most students in Japan…sit quietly in class without ever questioning their instructor.

      I’d say most children around the world are mostly quiet in class and listen to the teacher…not question them.

      >Teachers enter the classroom and “teach” without pause for 50-60 minutes.

      I don’t understand what else you’d expect them to do.

      >if individual students did not understand the material, it is up to them to seek after school enrichment through a system called “juku” in Japan.

      Juku cram-schools are an option that many kids in Japan use for extra after-school study. They usually only go once a week for an hour.
      Sometimes kids in America hire a tutor to help them study…basically the same.

      >the question remains about the quality of the education

      As I mentioned above, my daughters learn every subject at a higher level than I got when I was their age.

      >question/answer sessions with the instructor

      That’s done in classes in Japan at times too.

      >Debate/counter debate were common practices.

      I never saw that when I was a student in America. How would that help the kids learn the material anyways? Seems to me, that it’d be counter-productive. Rather that learning the material from the teacher, the students in the class would be listening to their classmates argue (debate).

      >Speech giving…non-existent in Japan.

      Japanese kids often give speeches in front of their classmates / teachers. But in my entire education in America I had never given a single speech.

      >In America, students who do not perform adequately or meet standard requirements are forced to repeat grades at all levels.

      Yes, students in Japan aren’t held back. But their grades and teacher’s recommendation are passed to the next school. So it behooves them to do well.

      >before we really bash one system over the other, we should look at all the particulars first.

      As I wrote in this post, these are only my observations from having gone to school in America and from having three daughters going to school in Japan.

  19. nagashita January 27, 2011 at 4:17 am #

    I used to live in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. I graduated Public junior high school at age 15 years old, and I had to choose schools that I want to take entrance exams for. I chose about 7 high schools to apply. 4 out of 7 schools were out of Kanagawa area, which each school locates everywhere and took me forever to get to school. To apply any school in japan, you must provide your grade report from your junior high school. However, in Japan, not only the academic but attitudes (from the view of teachers) also concerns in grade. The grade card in japan looks like a booklet. Usually, the first page is your school logo and name on it, and second page consists of showing your grades for 3 years educations in your school. We don’t use A,B,C,D, and E like American schools do. We use 1,2,3,4, and 5. 5 is basically A, however, to get A in Japan, you must be the king of education. In my junior high school, there are about 120 graduates(in my time), and there were no students who earned all A’s. Maximum was probably 3.4 in Usa grading scales. I was like 2.3 in USA. But, grading scales in japan is intense. Your life style and attitudes concern in your grades, too. So, even though you make a huge score on the test, you score may drop because you don’t act like in your classes or in front of teachers. However, 2.0 GPA in Japan consider as normal. We don’t put 90%to100 as A…we can never check our grades at any moment. We only can check our grade at end of the semester (Before huge school vacation such as summer or winter or spring vacations) comes. In Japan, 20% on the test considers as D in America. Also, our textbooks are much thinner than American textbooks, but materials we cover on the test usually not coming out of the textbooks. Teachers use blackboard 100% and writing all the information that is not on the textbook. Sometime, we need to get some extra information about the subjects for the test. Honestly, I never got score higher than 60% in my junior high school. Which is not rare at all. When I was 15, I took the entrance exams of each school at those schools. I failed 6 out 7 high school. The one high school that I wanted to go to was super intense. It was boy(only) high school, and mathematics killed me. Entrance exams create by teachers who are in those schools. We don’t have like ACT or SAT. So, we can never figure out what is the tendency of entrance exams every year. Also, we have the level for each high school. Lowest is 36 and highest is 77. 77 is much harder than getting into any IVY-league. The entrance exams for kind of the high school provide Mathematics (but mathematics competition level at age 15), English is intense for Japanese kids, Science and Social are crazy because none of questions on the test they provide are not from textbooks at all. Japanese is super hard (I can’t even understand). My high school level was about 52 at that time, now is 48 (It went down). Kaisei Academy is the highest level high school in japan. If you go Kaisei Academy, you are basically in hell for 3 years studying (not text books) studying about entrance exams level for colleges or universities every day. I heard they provide you intense tricky test every other weeks, and if you can’t follow intense education, you will get expelled from schools. Before I took entrance exam for 7 of them, I went cram schools after my junior high school for about 6 to 7 hours. (Of course I had to spend my times in cram school all day long.) They always provided me a intense mock-exams every weeks. I went crazy at that time. My high school’s entrance exam was Math, English, Japanese, Interview. Interview was crazy. There were 3 teachers from the high school and kept asking me about the politics of Japan. I couldn’t answer very much, but I got accepted. When I came to America, at age 16years old, American teachers put me in Algebra I to see what is my level. But, it was the test day and got 95 percents on the Algebra I. so my school teachers recommended me put into calculus after the Algebra I. I couldn’t use calculator, also math was slightly different from Japanese math. I felt much comfortable since I came here. I really enjoyed my school life in America. I never liked or enjoyed school life in Japan. All they think is to get students into highest school to level up their schools. There are lot of privates school provide school buses. Each school bus represents their schools, so they put their school logo and look unique. My high school bus was all purple and was actually a highway bus. It completely looks different from American school buses.

    • tokyo5 January 28, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

      >I chose about 7 high schools to apply.

      So many?? Usually Japanese students apply to two high schools.

      >in Japan, not only the academic but attitudes (from the view of teachers) also concerns in grade.

      Yes, that’s true. Children need to learn academics…but also proper social skills.

      >materials we cover on the test usually not coming out of the textbooks. Teachers use blackboard 100% and writing all the information that is not on the textbook.

      Yes, students must study both their book and their notes.

      >The one high school that I wanted to go to was super intense.

      You must have applied to “high level” schools. I’d say most schools in Japan aren’t as difficult to enter as that.

      >When I came to America, at age 16years old

      Are you in America? For a “home-stay”? What part of America?

      >I really enjoyed my school life in America. I never liked or enjoyed school life in Japan.

      I’m glad that you found a school you like…but I still think that the school system in Japan is better than America’s. Just my opinion, of course.

      >My high school bus was all purple and was actually a highway bus. It completely looks different from American school buses.

      In parts of Japan, some high schools have school buses. That’s true.
      And it’s also true that they’re much different from school buses in America. I’d say the biggest difference is that Japanese kids ride the buses quietly and properly.
      Completely different from in America.

  20. Matthew February 19, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

    Interesting post, I was searching for some idea’s on how they were diffrent after watching the deathnote series. I realize at 30 it might seem childish to watch anime but reguardless I can say if the American school system was more like the Japanese our children would most likely be better off. Unfortunatly the culture here doesn’t emulate more than a few of these ideal’s, and buses in many area’s are more than a necessity since public transpertation is lacking, and really not in demand since most people own at least one car and do not rely on it.

    Maybe one of these days we will get our act together because the outlook is grim in my opinion. I realize this post is approaching a year old, but felt the need to add to it for some reason :)

    • tokyo5 February 20, 2011 at 1:54 am #

      >Interesting post

      Thank you.

      >most people (in America) own at least one car

      Yes, America is a “car culture”. But I heard America (including the city I grew up in) are planning to get a Japanese-style bullet train system:
      http://tokyo5.wordpress.com/2010/11/23/florida-shinkansen/

      >I realize this post is approaching a year old, but felt the need to add to it for some reason

      No problem commenting on old posts…feel free to comment on any of the posts on my blog!

      • Matthew February 20, 2011 at 2:15 am #

        Ahh yes, the bullet train is a point of political strife. It unfortunatly isn’t much of a bullet since it’s top speed is only around 85 MPH, I don’t know the KPH conversion sorry. It also doesn’t have much support from the public and the expected cost of running it is expected to be in the red meaning it will need to be tax subsidized which is very unpopular.

        I’d venture to say that the way the U.S. is populated has a lot to do with these services failing. The interstate system came before them and commuting by car is so popular it will be hard to get support for a new train system especially since outside of the major citys the area’s are not dense unless your in the NE U.S. Many people also live in suburbs of the city’s they work in and don’t need to commute from one city to another and rail would be ineffective overall at this point. High Speed rail sounds like a nice thing, but if no ones going to ride it then it’s not worth building in my opinion.

      • tokyo5 February 20, 2011 at 3:20 am #

        >if no one (in America) is going to ride it (public transportation) then it’s not worth building

        Yeah…Japan’s has a successful public transportation system because it’s affordable, punctual, clean, safe and convenient.
        There are train stations and bus stops all over Japan…from big cities to small towns.

        That’s how it has to be done to be used by a large segment of the population.

      • tokyo5 February 20, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

        As I just wrote in this comment, it was recently announced that Florida decided to cancel the contract for a bullet-train system.

  21. Matthew February 20, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    yea, Im not certian about in Japan but crime is in my opinion just to high which takes us back to our lack luster education system. It’s quite a shame really with no one answer overall on how to fix it. It would take a cultural change in some ways to move forward with bettering the system.

    • tokyo5 February 20, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

      Well, the culture of Japan is quite different from America’s…or other countries, as well.

  22. Matthew February 20, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    Yea…. I don’t know, but I’ve always liked the culture of Japan, well at least from what I’ve seen for the most part, and lets not forget they have some of the best looking ladies out there lol. This is not solely directed at the topic of school’s, but plays a part I think. America has seemed to lose a sense of it’s identity which makes it hard for people to interact.

    In the end with all things nothing is perfect though.

    • tokyo5 February 20, 2011 at 8:36 pm #

      >I’ve always liked the culture of Japan

      Have you visited Japan before? What aspects of Japanese culture are you interested in?

  23. Matthew February 21, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    tokyo5 :>I’ve always liked the culture of Japan
    Have you visited Japan before? What aspects of Japanese culture are you interested in?

    No I’ve never visited to be honest. What I know I’ll admit comes from what I see on TV, Movies, things I see in the news and whatnot. I realize that the adage of don’t believe everything you see on TV applies, but the base theme seems to center around strong family ties, traditional values, honor and respect especially for elders and things like that. I’m a bit of a history buff and always though Busido, the samurai/warrior culture was interesting. When it comes to Japan in now typing this post I realize I know less about Japan today. It just gives me something to look into though is all :) Am I even close on my thinking about the culture? I imagine there is a differance in the larget city’s vs. rural like there is here even.

    • tokyo5 February 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

      >Am I even close on my thinking about the culture?

      Japan has changed a lot, of course. But, especially compared to most of the rest of the world, Japan still values respect for other and self-endurance.

  24. Matthew February 22, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    Those are the kind of things I admire in people. You can find it here in the States, but it’s becoming rare. It’s more of a me me me attitude, and while I think compition is what really moves a society along it needs to be healthy and not the kind that is disrespectful and requires crushing people just for you to get an inch on everyone else. Maybe one day I’ll have a chance to visit, need to learn the basic launguge if I spend any time there hehe. Being in the U.S. nothing irritates me more than people coming here for an extended period and not taking the time to learn how to communicate in the native tongue. I guess I’d be fortunate that the world is by and large adopting English as a secondary launguge though.

    • tokyo5 February 22, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

      >nothing irritates me more than people coming here for an extended period and not taking the time to learn how to communicate in the native tongue.

      I’d say that most people who go to a foreign country for a short visit don’t learn much (if any) of the local language.
      Learning a language is difficult.
      It is, of course, a good idea to try to learn at least a few of the basic phrases…and locals appreciate if you do. But Japanese people understand that most people can’t speak their language.

      That said, you did write “an extended visit“. How long would you plan to stay if you came to Japan?

      >the world is by and large adopting English

      I think English has been the official “international language” for quite some time now.

  25. Matthew February 23, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    hehe, while I agree English is a world language it would be rude to assume that people would have learned to accomodate me and I not attempt to at least do the same in return.

    Hard to say how long I’d stay, I never really though about staying anywhere but in the states, but we are only given one life to live and I can’t see wasting it in one place forever. I’m not tied down, I’m divorced with no kids, I own property but never built anything on it. All in all it would be a question of getting up the courage to leave the confort zone I suppose and of course the almighty Dollar/Yen is always a limiting factor hehe. It would be nice to not go somewhere new solo though, I have a friend in TX who is similarly not tied down and he’s been to Japan before when he was in the Navy.

    Right now I have at least another 4 semesters in school if I’m lucky, so I’d want to get that down with before anything else. It’s computer science so it’s something that I can do a lot with in the end. I know several people I’ve meet who work from home writing JAVA programs and there’s no need to live in any one place if you code from home :)

    • tokyo5 February 24, 2011 at 12:50 am #

      >work from home writing JAVA programs and there’s no need to live in any one place if you code from home

      Visiting a foreign country is one thing…but if you want to live and work there you have to get a visa to do so legally.

  26. Matthew February 24, 2011 at 4:55 am #

    Yea I know, I’m not saying it would a permenate more or anything, but if your going to stay for any amount of time it would be nice to have some sort of income as well. I mean writing code can be done from nearly any part of the world so if your traveling it would be preferable to have some sort of income as you do it. Make more sense? After all you will always have downtime so might as well be productive lol. I think I’d like to do a month possably, give me time to see what I want to see and experiance without feeling rushed.

    • tokyo5 February 24, 2011 at 11:03 pm #

      A month is a long holiday. How did you become interested in Japan?

  27. randompercent October 11, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    So I’m currently a teacher in a Japanese Junior High Schools and Elementary Schools and I noticed just a few errors in the above observations. I figure most of them are typos, but I thought I’d go ahead and clear up any confusion (although there are some differences between prefectures in Japan, I think most of the stuff below is pretty much accurate for most of Japan).

    – There are public buses in Japan (and there are for sure private school buses), although they are quite rare.
    – Elementary school children all must wear a uniform.
    – Not every class starts by students standing and greeting their teacher. Although there is something everyone says at the beginning and end of class.

    Now for some opinion

    -I would NOT say Japanese education is better than American education. I think it depends solely on your school, and more specifically, your teacher. For a (largely good I think) article on Japan vs. American education check out:

    http://eserver.org/courses/fall95/76-100g/papers/kim/default.html

    It’s not 100 percent accurate, but I think there are some good quotes in there dispelling the idea of Japanese education as “the best” and vice versa.

    Hope you are enjoying your time in Japan.

    -Josh

    • tokyo5 October 12, 2011 at 2:00 am #

      > I’m currently a teacher in a Japanese Junior High Schools and Elementary Schools

      Do you teach at public or private schools? I wrote this (as I mentioned a few times in the post) about public schools since my wife, my kids and I all attended public schools, that’s what I more familiar with.

      Private schools in both the U.S. and in Japan are different in many ways from public schools.

      >I noticed just a few errors in the above

      I don’t think I made any errors. Keep in mind that I compared my experience with the Florida public school system (of the ’70s – ’80s) to that of Japan (more specifically, Tokyo).

      And also, keep in mind, that these were generalizations.

      >I figure most of them are typos

      I can’t find any typos in this post.

      >- There are public buses in Japan

      Some children who attend schools in very rural areas of Japan take a public bus to school (for free).
      That’s true…but I was referring to the type of “school bus” that Americans are familiar with (that only school children are permitted to ride…no general commuters).

      >(and there are for sure private school buses)

      I know. But, as I said, this post is about “public” schools.

      >- Elementary school children all must wear a uniform.

      At private schools they do. But the only “uniform” that elementary schools kids at Japanese public schools have is their gym / athletes uniform.

      >Not every class starts by students standing and greeting their teacher.

      Well, that’s the individual teachers’ decisions. But, in general, they do (and, as I said, this post is generalizations…not specific schools).

      >Although there is something everyone says at the beginning and end of class.

      Yes, the 「挨拶」 (greeting) is usually said while standing.
      >-I would NOT say Japanese education is better than American education.

      Well, as I wrote above, my opinion is that it is better.

      >Hope you are enjoying your time in Japan.

      I have been living in Japan since 1990 and intend to stay permanently…so, yes, I am enjoying my time here. Thanks.
      How long have you been in Japan? What part of Japan are you in?

  28. Anonymous November 11, 2011 at 1:13 am #

    I would like to know more about school buses in Japan(elementary-junior-high).Cause I saw some pictures on websites about them.Are they for public or for private schools only?

    Also I would like to know about school buses in other countries .Are they free?

    • tokyo5 November 11, 2011 at 2:12 am #

      > I saw some pictures (of school buses in Japan) on websites about them.

      School buses aren’t common in Japan. Especially in the big cities like Tokyo (rural areas have some though). The only “school buses” I’ve seen in Tokyo were for 幼稚園 (kindergartens).

      >Are they for public or for private schools only?

      What did the website you saw the photos on say?
      Without seeing the buses, I’d only be able to speculate…but I’ll guess they’re for private schools.

      >Also I would like to know about school buses in other countries .Are they free?

      The only other country that I’m familiar with the culture of is America.
      Students at public schools in America can ride school buses for free.

  29. Anonymous November 11, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    http://www.xzx4ever.com/vb/showthread.php?t=43590

    check this website these the buses I am asking about.

    Thank you for your cooperation

    • tokyo5 November 12, 2011 at 12:27 am #

      I checked the website you linked…but I can’t read what it says because it’s written in (what I assume is) Arabic.

      But those photos aren’t school buses. First of all, most of them aren’t even picture of a bus, at all…but a train—specifically, the “Tokyo Disneyland” train.

      The other two are of old Japanese buses…but they’re tour buses, not school buses. And they’re not even in Japan in those photos—such old buses aren’t used here anymore…and the license plates on them aren’t the plates used in this country.

  30. Anonymous November 12, 2011 at 11:08 pm #

    Thanks alot those photoes are putten there as Japaness school buses.All people are amused about them that’s why I asked.

    • tokyo5 November 13, 2011 at 12:00 am #

      >photoes are putten there as Japaness school buses.

      Maybe those buses are used as school buses in which ever country it is that imported them from Japan…but they’re not “Japanese” school buses.

  31. yo dog! November 17, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    I feel bad for Japanese students too. I am an (assistant) teacher here in Japan, almost 5 years. I will say however, if I had a choice I think I would raise my kids in Japan system rather than the USA. School here is hard, and not always very effective. At the same time, the threat of drugs is not here. I went to one of the top public schools in the USA and drugs were still everywhere. In many schools in the USA “gangs” are a problem. Pseudo gangs and real gangs. Teen sεx and pregnancy is no where near the problem in Japan. The thing is the students here do no get as rounded of an education as kids in the USA. For the most part Japanese people are rather clueless to the world around them. They are a true case of ingornance is bliss. so it is a duel edged sword. I think a if you enter your child in a Japanese school and can fill in the blanks that the their system leaves out for example (the USA is not called “america” by anyone but the Japanese) then it will work out nicely. the clubs and sports… I just do not know. Sports are GREAT. but 6 and 7 days a week is just too much!!! as much as they “practice” why are they not the world’s greatest athletes. On their VACATION and “days off” they have to go to clubs. they kids have no chance to live or be kids!

    • tokyo5 November 18, 2011 at 1:36 am #

      >I feel bad for Japanese students too.

      I don’t know why. Almost every Japanese person enjoys their school days.

      >The thing is the students here do no get as rounded of an education as kids in the USA.

      I don’t agree. My children got a much better education than I received from the public school system in Florida.

      >For the most part Japanese people are rather clueless to the world around them.

      Why would you say that? I don’t agree with that comment either.
      Many people say that it’s Americans who don’t know and don’t care to know about anything outside the U.S.
      When I was a student, the only “World history” that I was taught in school was that which somehow related to America (ie: Pearl Harbor).

      >They (Japanese) are a true case of ingornance is bliss.

      What are you basing these statement on? Only the school you attended as a student in America and the school you work at in Japan?

      >fill in the blanks that the their (Japan’s) system leaves out for example (the USA is not called “america” by anyone but the Japanese)

      From my experience, it’s America’s school system that is lacking.
      And…people in many countries refer to “the U.S.” as “America”.

      >Sports are GREAT. but 6 and 7 days a week is just too much!!!

      Japanese children don’t practice their 部活 (school club / team) everyday.
      Everyday there are students at school going to their club, but it’s not the same children everyday.
      Anyways, they enjoy the club they join.

      >why are they not the world’s greatest athletes.

      Well…actually, Japan’s Women’s soccer team, Men’s soccer team, Little League team, Flyweight boxer, Hotdog and pizza eating champion, Baseball team, etc. are all World Champions.

      >On their VACATION and “days off” they have to go to clubs

      They don’t actually have to…if they have another plan, they can do that instead.
      But, they join the club because they enjoy it.

      >they kids have no chance to live or be kids!

      What did you do as a child that Japanese children aren’t able to?

  32. Anonymous November 29, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    The only time I feel bad for kids about the clubs is when the school has a rule that all students MUST join a club. But that’s not very common these days, most students are free to pursue whatever hobbies they like either at school or at home (or somewhere else, there are private soccer clubs and karate schools and music schools and whatever else too), or to do other things like get an afterschool job if they choose. It’s usually 100% voluntary, and I LOVE the fact that they don’t have to try out.

    I went to an American public middle school, and a small private high school, My high school was the same way. Anyone could be on a sports team (if you weren’t very good you didn’t get to PLAY as often, but you could practice and improve and shoot for being a starter someday). Anyone could be in the school play (there were auditions for specific roles but everyone could do at least a walk-on part or a behind the scenes role), etc. It was a much friendlier environment than the public middle school, and I’m glad that my kids in Japan will be able to join whatever club they want (or not join any…my husband didn’t, that’s okay too if you’d rather do something else in your free time).

    It’s a little sad that kids start spending more time away from their families at a younger age…for the parents, anyway. How many people actually WANTED to spend weekends with mom and dad when they were 12? You did it (in America at least) because there was no transportation to get you anywhere else. I would have been thrilled to have been able to walk or bike to a place where I could pursue my own hobbies without having to wait until someone was available to drive me to some school, pay the tuition, and then sit there and wait until the class was done.

    • tokyo5 November 30, 2011 at 12:01 am #

      >a rule that all students MUST join a club.

      Yes, especially in the past, some schools expect every student to join a club or team.

      >I LOVE the fact that they don’t have to try out.

      I agree. Every child gets a chance to learn a sport or skill…the clubs in Japanese schools aren’t only for the “best” players. That’s more fair.

      >My high school…was a much friendlier environment than the public middle school

      I only attended public school in America…so I can’t compare to private school. But, from your description, it sounds better.

      >in America at least…no transportation to get you anywhere else.

      What part of America are your from? I grew up in a small suburb…cars were necessary there (as you described). But it’s probably different in big cities like New York.
      The same way in Japan…big cities like Tokyo have excellent public transportation and many places are within walking or bicycling distance…but cars are necessary in Japan’s more rural areas, too.

      I assume you’re in Japan now. What part of Japan? How long have you been here?

      • nickolas of winterhold April 17, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

        as an american student in Iowa my experiences with private schools is rather negative. ive never actually been to a private school but from the people i know who do and from what i hear i have formulated this opinion. it seems to me that most private schools are either religious institutions (i.e catholic school) or they are expensive and prestigious almost to the point of snobbery (almost like an ivy league high school if such things existed.)

        i think i would prefer the Japanese school system had i not been raised all the way to grade 9 in the american one. while you say that students arent over worked and have plenty of free time you must admit that compared to the U.S system it is very rigorous.

        P.S i realize this post was old but ive had a sudden flair of interest and excitement for Japanese language and culture and was looking through things on japan and stumbled upon this. (i dont know very much though i can write perhaps 10 kanjii from memory and recite maybe as many although they wouldnt be the same (i.e i can write the kanji for soil but not say it. it looks like an upside down T with a short horizontal line through it correct?) and i only know of ww2 era japan and tokugawa/edo period japan.

      • tokyo5 April 18, 2014 at 9:03 am #

        >i realize this post was old

        That’s OK. Please feel free to comment on any of my blog posts anytime!
        This post is one of my blog’s most popular…it still gets traffic and comments four years after I wrote it!

        >ive had a sudden flair of interest and excitement for Japanese language and culture

        Oh, really? Great! How did you become interested in Japan?

        >i can write perhaps 10 kanjii from memory

        Great! How did you learn?

        >i can write the kanji for soil but not say it. it looks like an upside down T with a short horizontal line through it correct?

        Yes. You mean 「土」, right? It’s pronounced “tsuchi” or “do” (long “o”).
        It’s often used as an abbreviation for “Saturday” because “Saturday” is 「土曜日」 (Do-yo-u-bi) in Japanese.

        >i only know of ww2 era japan and tokugawa/edo period japan.

        How did you learn about those periods of Japanese history?

      • nickolas of winterhold April 24, 2014 at 3:05 am #

        @tokyo5
        >Oh, really? Great! How did you become interested in Japan?

        its always been a more fascinating culture but with a recent delve into Japanese music (babymetal and SuG mostly) i wanted to translate a few lines and it stemmed from there

        >Great! How did you learn?

        alot from the internet after realizing google trans. was bust i also have another student at my school who has been self teaching for about 2 years now

        >Yes. You mean 「土」, right? It’s pronounced “tsuchi” or “do” (long “o”). It’s often used as an abbreviation for “Saturday” because “Saturday” is 「土曜日」 (Do-yo-u-bi) in Japanese.

        yes thats what i meant thank you for telling me! and im glad to see i was correct in how to write the date. also do you know how to read a date when it is written vertically? i was looking at a karate certificate written in Japanese (from an american society so i can see how it would be misspelled) but the way i read it it said he got it in the year 7 in the 10th day of the 28th month but he got it in 2010. to describe it, it was, from top to bottom 7,(kanji for year), 28,(kanji for month) 10,日

        >How did you learn about those periods of Japanese history?

        well every kid kinda wants to learn about the tokugawa period from a young age. samurai, ninjas (shinobi) is all very cool and then wwII was a part of school so i had no choice (although i quite enjoyed it)

      • tokyo5 April 24, 2014 at 8:34 am #

        >a recent delve into Japanese music (babymetal and SuG mostly)

        Do you listen to Japanese music? I’ve heard that BabyMetal is becoming more popular outside of Japan than they are here!
        Personally, I don’t like their music.

        > i wanted to translate a few lines

        Translating pop music is difficult. Were you able to?

        >…he got it in 2010. to describe it, it was, from top to bottom 7,(kanji for year), 28,(kanji for month) 10,日

        Are you saying that it was written: 「7年28月10日」?
        That doesn’t make sense. Are you sure you remember it correctly?

        First of all, even if the year said 「平成7年」…that wouldn’t be “2010”. That was 1995. On the Japanese calendar, “2010” was 「平成22年」.
        And there aren’t 28 months, of course!
        Maybe it said: 「平成22年7月10日」, which is “July 10th, 2010″.

        >(Japan’s) wwII (history) was a part of school (curriculum)

        When I was a student in America, how I was taught WWII history was different in many ways from what Japanese students learn.

      • nickolas of winterhold April 25, 2014 at 1:06 am #

        >I’ve heard that BabyMetal is becoming more popular outside of Japan than they are here! Personally, I don’t like their music.

        oh yes very popular following even the finebros (a very popular youtube channel) yea i would have guessed seeing as how its not very well recieved in the metal community as metal due to the fact that they are schoolgirls when it comes to western music im more of a punk person

        >Translating pop music is difficult. Were you able to?

        well not more than a few words but like i said it was more of just something to stem my interest

        >Are you saying that it was written: 「7年28月10日」?
        That doesn’t make sense. Are you sure you remember it correctly?
        First of all, even if the year said 「平成7年」…that wouldn’t be “2010″. That was 1995. On the Japanese calendar, “2010″ was 「平成22年」. And there aren’t 28 months, of course!
        Maybe it said: 「平成22年7月10日」, which is “July 10th, 2010″.

        yes, how i originally typed it albeit vertical thats why it confused me although i suspect it didnt go of of the japanese calendar but the roman one. ill ask my sensai when he got it but thats definately how it read

        >When I was a student in America, how I was taught WWII history was different in many ways from what Japanese students learn.

        yes it has progressed alot in that america is not immediately labeled “good guy” and the axis are not immediately “jew hating nazi communist baby eaters” and the bombing of japan is left morally ambiguous

      • tokyo5 April 25, 2014 at 8:28 am #

        >yes (in the U.S., BabyMetal have a) very popular following

        To me, the music sounds nice…but kids singing J-pop over ruins it!

        I wrote a post about them though:
        http://tokyo5.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/baby-metal/

        >when it comes to western music im more of a punk person

        I’ve tried to enjoy various types of music, including punk…but, to me, only heavy metal sounds nice.

        >how i originally typed it

        If that’s the case, then it’s an error. There is no twenty-eighth month! ;)
        And if it said 「7月」 (“Year 7″), it would have to be preceded by the Japanese era. Most likely the current one, “heisei”.
        “Heisei 7″, as I mentioned above, was 1995.

  33. John Kim January 26, 2012 at 7:36 am #

    Do you think Korean schools are somewhat related to Japeness schools?

    • tokyo5 January 27, 2012 at 1:55 am #

      Sorry, I don’t know much about Korea…and I know almost nothing about their school system.

      Although Korea is Japan’s geographically closest neighbor, and both countries are Asian with long histories…that are sometimes tied together—Korea and Japan have quite different cultures. So, I think the school systems may have some similarities…but I bet there are even more differences.

      For example, I’ve heard that Korean students clean their own school like Japanese students do.
      And that they change their shoes upon entering the school building…which is also similar to Japan.

      Another similarity between the two school systems is they both have high school entrance exams…but what is quite different is that in Korea, on exam day, I’ve heard that police give escorts to students who are running late so they won’t miss their exam and that airports close down so that students can have silence when they are taking the test.

      That’s too extreme for Japanese culture.

  34. Ashley February 17, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    Japanese schools are a tiny bit similar to schools here in New Zealand I suppose? Sort of?
    We have kindergarten, primary school (elementary) for 6 years, then intermediate (like junior high I guess) for two years though, then high school for four years.

    In primary school we had a leaving ceremony, in intermediate we had an entrance and a leaving ceremony, same in high school. In pretty much all schools we don’t take showers after gym class. School is from February to December though. Then through most of December to February it is the summer holidays. Most schools don’t have cafeteria’s but most schools have tuck shops. You have choice on what to eat though. No janitors.
    Must wear uniform.. A lot of kids in school clubs. Yeah. Well I guess its not that similar at all , but sort of…… We had some Japanese home stay students at our school the other day though, and my friend asked one of the Japanese girls if our school is like her school in Japan. She said that at her school it is different because the boys and the girls are kept separate. I think they get free time? She said she likes Pokemon and Naruto so she must have time to watch that?

    • tokyo5 February 17, 2012 at 11:31 pm #

      >Japanese schools are a tiny bit similar to schools here in New Zealand I suppose?

      That’s for commenting. It’s interesting…it does sound like New Zealand’s schools have some similarities to Japanese ones. At least, more than American schools do. ;)

      >most schools have tuck shops.

      What’s that?

      >You have choice on what to eat though.

      What types of food do schools in New Zealand serve?

      >No janitors.

      Do the students clean their school like Japanese kids do?

      >She (Japanese girl) said that at her school it is different because the boys and the girls are kept separate.

      I guess she was talking about gym class. Are boys and girls together in the same class for gym in New Zealand?

      >I think they (Japanese kids) get free time?

      Yes, I know. My daughters, for example, have plenty of time to spend with their friends on weekends and holidays.

  35. Laura March 8, 2012 at 7:33 am #

    Thanks for the post! I’m just wondering what they teach to Japanese students concerning WWII. For example, a friend of mine in Germany said her education was quick to label Hitler as the enemy etc. In Japan, I’ve heard their reports on the Japanese involvement was minimized to protect their reputation. Please shed some light on this!! Much appreciated!

  36. tokyo5 March 10, 2012 at 12:33 am #

    Just as America’s focus on WW2 is what happened to America in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, with a minimum focus on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (and no mention at all of America’s carpet bombing of Tokyo).
    And American students learn that Japan’s attack of Hawaii was 100% wrong but America’s bombing of Japan was 100% justified. (At least that’s what I was taught when I was a student in America.)…Japan’s focus is what happened to Japan. When Japanese school’s teach about the attack on Pearl Harbor, they mainly focus on the unfortunate situation the Kamikaze pilots were put in. But much more focus is put on the bombing of Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    • nickolas of winterhold April 17, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

      In my history class the bombing of nagasaki and hiroshima are left morally ambiguous. we even had to do an essay on whether it was justified or not (i said no i believe a naval blockade would have done the job but america was obsessed with scaring the commies. seeing as you grew up just after the red scare i find it unsurprising that certain detailes were left out and it was passed as a “we had to do it” scenario.) also regarding the bombing of tokyo we were taught it was a fire bombing not a carpet bombing and it was barely mentioned. even my history teacher who likes to tell both sides just kinda said “oh and we were firebombing tokyo as well. now back to hiroshima…”

      • tokyo5 April 18, 2014 at 9:11 am #

        >we were taught it was a fire bombing not a carpet bombing

        “Fire bombing” means bombing that causes fires.
        “Carpet bombing” means “to bomb extensively / relentlessly”.

        Both of those terms accurately describe what happened to Tokyo.

  37. skaizun March 11, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    In Japanese anime, I’ve noticed that classrooms have numbers above the doors, such as “1-5″ or “2-3″. They don’t seem to be room numbers. What do those numbers mean, and why do they have to be posted year round (i.e., assuming it has something to do with the class and the class is held in the same room, what’s the point of leaving it there year round?)? Thanks!

    • tokyo5 March 12, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

      >I’ve noticed that classrooms have numbers above the doors, such as “1-5″ or “2-3″. They don’t seem to be room numbers. What do those numbers mean

      Japanese students don’t change classes and have different classmates for each subject like American students do. So those numbers are the grade and class number for each classroom.
      For example, “1-5″ means “First grade, class 5″ and “2-3 is “Second grade, class 3″.
      Even in junior high and high school, the grades start at “first grade” (so, JHS “first grade” is equivalent to JHS grade 7 in America. And HS “first grade” is equivalent to grade 10 in America).

      >what’s the point of leaving it there year round?

      I don’t think I understand your question. I don’t know why that would be confusing.

  38. sagteck March 14, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    > Also, Japan has “technical high schools” where kids can begin learning a skill while they’re in high school.

    America has those too. I graduated high school in 2005. For two class periods in my junior and senior year I attended a vocational school. As in, I would attend normal classes during the day with other students at the high school, leave to go to the vocational school and learn, and then come back. It was part of the curriculum of the high school if you chose to do it.

    I attended computer courses and got two professional certifications in high school before graduating because of it (CompTIA A+, 2004 and CompTIA Network+, 2005 certs). They’re IT certifications. It helped prepare me for higher education in college and gave me a boost over other students applying.

    It was part of a public school curriculum. Here’s a website to the school for your reading interest.
    http://djh.frederick.k12.va.us/pages/Dowell_J_Howard_LC

    • tokyo5 March 15, 2012 at 1:06 am #

      >For two class periods in my junior and senior year I attended a vocational school

      But I’m talking about actual “vocational schools”…as opposed to everyone attending similar high schools and occasionally visiting a tech school.

      • sagteck March 15, 2012 at 1:15 am #

        Not sure I follow what you mean by actually “vocational schools”. The training and certifications I received are actual industry standard certifications that are normally achieved at a technical school post high school.

        It is an actual “vocational school” which is why I used the term.

      • tokyo5 March 15, 2012 at 1:18 am #

        >It is an actual “vocational school”

        I see. I guess I misunderstood your earlier comment.

  39. sagteck March 14, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    Interesting article btw, I was watching anime and got interested to know if everyone in Japan actually walked to their schools all the time.

    • tokyo5 March 15, 2012 at 1:09 am #

      >interested to know if everyone in Japan actually walked to their school

      In rural areas of Japan, students can bicycle to school if they live too far to walk. But in urban areas (such as Tokyo, where I live), kids up to junior high can walk from their house to school so bicycles aren’t allowed.
      High school kids often take the train and then walk from the nearest station to the school.

  40. sagteck March 14, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    Read the article linked by randompercent.

    http://eserver.org/courses/fall95/76-100g/papers/kim/default.html

    > In other words, in a society pressed to learn as much as they can in a short period time without the regards for the social well being, the society becomes robots.

    This is why the Japanese build such good robots!!! They understand their sentient counter-part.

    /joke

    • tokyo5 March 15, 2012 at 1:11 am #

      >the society becomes robots.

      If that author is saying that Japanese kids act like robots, I have to disagree.

  41. sagteck March 14, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    Also as a rebuttal to that article… http://eserver.org/courses/fall95/76-100g/papers/kim/default.html

    > Students are not motivated to work as teachers have no motivation to teach.

    I have to disagree about the comment about teachers. Yes, teachers are severely underpaid but the people who are in the profession are truly passionate. The salary is low so really the only thing they have going for them is their passion of the work. I agree that teachers in America are underpaid but I would say that the quality of teachers would degrade if the salaries were higher. Because some people would become teachers “for the money” which is similarly why the IT industry suffers from idiots. I’m not saying teachers should not be paid more but stating that the comment is inaccurate and unfair to current teachers (American).

    All in all though I thought the article was very interesting much like tokyo5’s post here.

    • tokyo5 March 15, 2012 at 1:16 am #

      >the quality of teachers would degrade if the salaries were higher.

      Or maybe, if a teaching position was well-paid, there would be more people competing for the positions and the Board of Education could select the best applicants.

      >very interesting much like tokyo5′s post here.

      Thank you!

  42. Bob March 14, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    I understand that this just your opinion. In that case, I don’t plan treat this as a discussion or debate post. Instead, it’s simply sharing of our own personal experience. However, I do hope that whatever you see here changes your opinion in some degree.

    I think that it is hard for anyone of us to say objectively which school system is better given our limited experience. Even using scientific, measurable metric, it is still difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of a school or a school system. For example, I am sure school experience is different depending on one’s experience. If you have not been enjoying your school life in USA and is thinking that your children are, of course, you have the bias to think that Japanese education system is better than the American one. Your experience with US’s public education is definitely not universal, so is your perception of the Japanese one based on what you saw from your children.

    I live in a suburb in the state of Massachusetts, and is currently a senior university student. I have been in the public system all my life. I would say that I totally enjoyed it. All the things that you didn’t do in highschool, such as sports, school clubs (I was a leader or management level in 4 of 6 clubs I joined), doing speech, etc. I don’t think the social aspect of Japanese school is superior; we can do the same in USA if the student want to. And perhaps, unlike Japan, students in USA also have a rich life outside of school. Many do a lot of volunteering, sport, extracurricular activities.

    In addition, I would say that Japanese exams are more tricky (I read some of their exam exercise books for entrance exams), and required a lot of information, I won’t say that they are harder. Many of my Japanese friends say that when they studied for entrance exams, they simply do enough exercises so that they know the steps for all (or a large percentage) possible kinds of question. On the other hand, teachers in US made sure that we understand the materials. I feel that we learn for the purpose of learning rather than doing an exam. Perhaps, Japanese students can do harder questions on a test, but I don’t see how it translates to real performance. We have many Japanese exchange students in my school every year, most of them from top universities such as Kyoto, Waseda, Tokyo, and such. I really don’t think they are any better than American students, if not actually less motivated to do well in university. I also went to Kyoto University for an exchange. I think the exams are so much easier and work loads are so much lighter than what we have in USA. Though I have heard that after entrance to university, most Japanese students stop studying hard.

    My point is that, although you said that you think Japanese education system is better than that of USA, it really depends on your opinion on what’s “better”. Is being able to do hard exams more important? Or how it is translated to real productivity when a person enter the workforce? Is being polite and discipline more important? Or is learned to be self-motivated, courageous?

    • tokyo5 March 15, 2012 at 1:35 am #

      >I think that it is hard for anyone of us to say objectively which school system is better given our limited experience.

      Well, as I wrote in the post, I was comparing America’s and Japan’s public school. The point of the post was simply to point out some differences…not to demonstrate which is “better” (although I did mention that I feel Japan’s is better—but, as you said, that’s my opinion.)

      >If you have not been enjoying your school life in USA

      I didn’t say that. In fact, I said the contrary…I did enjoy school.

      >Your experience with US’s public education is definitely not universal,

      But I bet the schools I attended is a fair representative of the average public schools in America…just as my kids’ schools are “normal” Japanese schools.

      >I don’t think the social aspect(clubs, sports teams, etc) of Japanese school is superior; we can do the same in USA if the student want to.

      But to join a school team in America, a student must pass the “try outs”…in Japanese schools, there are no “try-outs”—anyone who wants to join a team is allowed to.
      As a result, I heard that only around 30% of American kids join a school extra-curricular activity…but almost every kid in Japan’s schools do.

      >unlike Japan, students in USA also have a rich life outside of school.

      That’s not accurate. Japanese kids have a full life “outside school” too.

      >Many do a lot of volunteering, sport, extracurricular activities.

      I dare say that it’s more common in Japan than it is there.

      >it really depends on your opinion on what’s “better”. Is being able to do hard exams more important? Or how it is translated to real productivity when a person enter the workforce? Is being polite and discipline more important? Or is learned to be self-motivated, courageous?

      Does it have to be one or the other?

  43. Bob March 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    Bob :
    …..I would say that I totally enjoyed it. All the things that you didn’t do in highschool, such as sports, school clubs (I was a leader or management level in 4 of 6 clubs I joined), doing speech, etc…..

    Typos… I wanted to say that I did those.

    • tokyo5 March 15, 2012 at 1:36 am #

      I knew what you meant. ;)

  44. erica March 19, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    im from texas and is currently in the 11th grade, american schools in texas start in late august and end in late may since we don’t follow the laws in the eastern states, saying that schools must start after labor day. We have an open house at the school that welcomes students before school starts so students will be able to meet the teachers and other students. As well we only celebrate graduation when you complete high school but other schools will have graduation for elementry and middle school. we also get weeks off for thanksgiving, christmas, spring break, and easter. some texas schools also have recommended students to wear uniforms but it is uncommon and schools that are private as well recommend uniforms.
    -erica

    • tokyo5 March 19, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

      Thank you for explaining your school’s system.
      I didn’t know that some schools in Texas have uniforms. I think uniforms are good.

      >we also get weeks off for thanksgiving, christmas, spring break, and easter.

      There is no Easter (I can’t even remember when “Easter” is. It’s in spring-time, isn’t it?) or (U.S.) Thanksgiving in Japan. Japan does have X-mas but it’s not a “legal” holiday.

      Japanese schools have summer, winter and spring breaks (the school ends at spring break in Japan). The school year is ending and spring break beginning this week or next in Japan (my kids’ spring break starts tomorrow).

  45. Kenneth March 19, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    Well, for what it’s worth…. I’m a U.S. Citizen living in Japan married to an absolutely amazing Japanese woman. My son is now 12. Two years ago he ‘volunteered’ to spend a couple years in Texas with his Grandmother to master the English language before starting High School in Japan. Remember, he was 10 when he made this choice. His case may be a little unique. He had traveled extensively with both his mother and myself to many countries and had been “home schooled” by us both while we were on the move. We returned to Japan and he spent 3rd and 4th grade here in Japanese public school.

    When he got to Texas, his English skills were lacking and he ended up in ESL classes immediately. However, when he was tested for aptitude (TAC’s or something?) he scored off the charts in Mathematics and Science and ended up in a gifted and talented program called “The Magnet Program” and was placed in a very very nice school for such children.
    Immediately, he immersed himself in study, resulting in an ‘A’ Average, Honor Roll in all classes but English (78) in which he struggled the first year. He wasn’t discouraged though.
    After the first year, his English linguistic skills had caught up to the school standards, and he excelled to First in his class in English also to maintain an ‘A’ (98) Average, Honor Roll in all classes. So far, everything was great.

    But….. Summer vacation is coming up in June. And when asked would he like to come visit Japan his response was, “Yes, it’s time for me to return. I’m finished here in America. I have to get back to the Japanese school system before I fall any further behind.”

    These are the words of a 12 year old.
    I know he’s smarter than me. (dad ain’t the brightest candle in the room) That’s not what concerns me.
    I had to ask him, why?
    Why would you want to come back to Japanese public school when you are in such an amazing “special program” there in Texas that is supposed to be providing a far superior education to that of average schools there in the U.S.?
    Are you homesick or something?

    His answer shocked me.
    He said that the reason he has been doing so well in school and had excelled in all his classes except for English the first year; is because the level of education and curriculum was so far behind there. Even the so called “Advanced Classes” of algebra, biology, geography, etc.., were not a challenge at all. And now that he has mastered the English language to a satisfactory level to himself, there is no longer a reason to continue falling behind in his other subjects and making it more difficult for him to “catch up” when he returns to Japan this year.

    And, I’m hearing the same thing from other “expat” parents with their kids in school in the U.S. from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Indonesia.

    I don’t know what else to say folks.

    But, that’s just what I’m going through now with my son.

    And yes, I do love him, and I am proud.

    • tokyo5 March 19, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

      So, your son was “home schooled” for first and second grades, then he attended a Japanese public school for third and fourth grades and went to school in America for fifth and sixth grades?

      It’s a very unique situation, I think. Which of the three did he enjoy the most?

      “Home schooling” is almost completely unheard of in Japan. Was there difficulty getting your son accepted to a Japanese school after home-schooling?

      Anyways, your son sounds clever. I hope he continues to do well in school.

  46. Audrey Anderson March 28, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    I think you sound overly optimistic…. Perhaps I didn’t catch the date this was written but I have recently taught in two supposedly superior junior high schools in Tokyo. Perhaps you also live in a nicer area. One of the schools I taught at was a semi immersion public school in one of the richest areas here. Anyway, I found the class work to be bland at best and students were allowed to do and act anyway they wanted with no repercussions. They aren’t really required to actually do any summer homework even though it’s assigned. Group mentality gets in the way of creativity, as well as their concern for only the right answer. As for holidays- it seems to me that Japanese care more about work then their families and that is shown through their obsession with after work parties and work hours. I think this starts with school and the lack of days off starting there and group clubs. I don’t think it is any better than the States. Both country’s education systems are wasteful and failing.

    • tokyo5 March 29, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

      >I think you sound overly optimistic…

      Are you addressing this at me or the visitor to my site who wrote the previous comment (Kenneth)?
      Either way, I’d say it’s basically a matter of personal opinion and experiences.

      >I don’t think it (Japanese school system) is any better than the States. Both country’s education systems are wasteful and failing.

      Well, as I stated in my post above, I was writing mainly about the differences between the two school systems…not which one is superior.
      But, as I also said previously, I don’t agree that Japan’s education system is “failing”…from what I’ve seen in both America’s and Japan’s schools, Japan’s schools are excellent.

  47. Kenneth March 28, 2012 at 7:49 pm #

    Hi Audrey,
    Yes this is recent. He arrives tomorrow. (29th)He’s really looking forward to getting back here. We live pretty far out in the country and things here can’t be compared with Tokyo in any way. (We look upon people there with a sigh and a shake of he head.) We just had the “school discussion” again last night and he’s convinced that he’ll suffer badly academically and opportunistically if he doesn’t get back into school here in Japan immediately. Of course he admits that going to the U.S. to learn English first hand in school there was the most ideal way for him to master the language as efficiently as possible. But, he (and several other of his classmates also returning) that to continue staying in the school system there will be detrimental to his education and future.

    I don’t know.
    I’m just glad he knows what he wants and is doing what he needs to. I can’t say that about most kids these days.
    For that I’m super glad, super proud, and will support him all the way.

    And by the way, thank you for being a teacher….. I know it’s a hard job that takes a lot of energy and self assertion. Sounds like you’re having a little bit of environmental stress related negativity. I’m not a teacher but I do teach what I can to others. One thing I do know is that at the end of the day, the system, the environment, and the failures of society as a whole don’t matter at all as long as the people I was teaching, learned something new they can be proud of and are more knowledgeable than before…
    Even though I get tired, it still makes me feel good to know that with a bit of extra effort I managed to make a difference in someones life for which someday they will benefit and maybe even be grateful.

    Thank you.

    • tokyo5 March 29, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

      >He arrives tomorrow.

      You’re referring to your son, right?
      How long was he in America?

      >We look upon people there (in Tokyo) with a sigh and a shake of he head.

      えぇ? Really? Have you ever been to Tokyo? I think it’s the best place to live! Very safe for such a large city…and very convenient!

      What part of Japan do you live in? I like visiting rural parts of Japan…but I could only live in Tokyo.

      >he’s convinced that he’ll suffer badly academically and opportunistically if he doesn’t get back into school here in Japan immediately.

      Your son is only twelve, isn’t he? Can he make such observations at such a young age? He must be clever!

      >thank you for being a teacher

      I guess you’re addressing the previous visitor to my blog (who wrote a comment that I presume was addressed to you).

  48. George April 16, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    I would have to agree with you. Here in America they like their people dumbed down so the way they go about it is horrid… If I had the funds I would def. be in Japan for my children to get the education they deserve.

    • tokyo5 April 16, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

      >If I had the funds I would def. be in Japan for my children to get the education they deserve.

      Have you been to Japan before?
      How do you know about Japan’s school system?

  49. Max April 23, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    I would just like to say that reading your initial posts and the replies that followed was very informative. I am also impressed that you replied to everyone. I don’t often see such dedication.

    I just recently graduated from High School in California, and I felt that the system was severely lacking.
    I believe that too much emphasis is put on homework. Some teachers I had would give students full credit just for doing the homework, regardless of the accuracy of the answers. Most of those teachers would not mark mistakes either. There were also students that would copy answers from their classmates before class and receive full credit in that manner. Also, the homework was generally worth 80% of a student’s grade. So even if you understood the material and scored well on tests, you would fail the class and be held back if you did not do the homework.
    Class participation was also greatly emphasized, to the point where if you did not comment in class or answer enough questions per week you would get marked down. Conversely if you commented or answered questions often you would get marked up.
    Now I would say that the majority of my classmates made it through high school without understanding most of their subjects. I would often see people receive low marks on their tests and still get a passing “B” or “C”.

    I have to note that I was one who did little to no homework but did well on tests. In two cases I would have failed the class if the teacher had not bumped my grade up because I understood the material. I also have to say, in my defense, that I am not motivated to work outside of the classroom, but when I am in class I work as hard as I can.

    Right now I am taking a “gap year” between high school and college. I do not know what I want to do. Unfortunately my high school grades were poor, so getting into a College or University is much harder. Fortunately I scored well enough on the SAT and ACT to get into most Universities regardless.

    • tokyo5 April 23, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

      >I would just like to say that reading your initial posts and the replies that followed was very informative.

      Thank you.

      > I am also impressed that you replied to everyone.

      Well, I appreciate all comments on my blog. And if someone takes the time to leave a comment on my blog, I’ll take the time to reply.

      >I don’t often see such dedication.

      Not every blog…but there are a number of other blogs, that the owner also replies to every comment.

      Those are the type blogs that I like to comment on.

      >I just recently graduated

      Congratulations!

      >High School in California…the system was severely lacking.

      That’s too bad that you weren’t satisfied with the education you received. Hopefully you’ll be happier with college!

  50. Anonymous May 13, 2012 at 5:29 am #

    these are interesting differences and comparisons. I’m currently in the last five to four weeks of 8th grade at a charter school. At my school we never clean our own classrooms(all done by janitors), we all get out on mondays early and sometimes we get out earlier on fridays like around 11:30 which is an hour and 30 minutes short than mondays. Tests are all taken in 1st period, my classmates can never behave when the teacher leaves the classroom, we bring are lunches to school, our class rooms are not very big, we do have a graduation after 8th grade and 12th grade but it’s not much since my school is adding grades which will make our school k-12 so we’ll only have to change buildings, there’s a strict dress code 4-8 and then it’s basically anything you want 9-12, plus my classmates are rude to the teachers. I sometimes wish there were schools similar to schools in Japan because even though my school have a little in common with one the students aren’t very responsible and then there’s also the fact that I like them more as well.

    • tokyo5 May 13, 2012 at 9:36 am #

      > I’m currently in the last five to four weeks of 8th grade

      Oh, that’s right … the school year is close to ending in America. It just began last month in Japan. (Sorry … I assumed you’re in America. Which country do you live in?)

      >a charter school

      What’s that?

      > At my school we never clean our own classrooms

      Not only is it good for kids to take care of their own school, but also Japanese schools save the money that American schools spend on janitors, air-conditioning the entire building, showers, etc. and can afford to take three-day long field-trips to Kyoto and other interesting places!

      > we all get out on mondays early and sometimes… Fridays (too)

      Why? What do you do then?

      > my classmates can never behave when the teacher leaves the classroom

      It’s a cultural thing. Japanese kids are raised differently than American kids.

  51. Shiori May 21, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    I have a question. At what age do Japanese children start school?

    • tokyo5 May 22, 2012 at 12:11 am #

      They start school at the same age as children in America do…first-graders are six years old.
      Before that, they’re in pre-school.

  52. Lol May 22, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    Lol

    • tokyo5 May 22, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

      Not so easy for me to reply to your comment since it consists of only three letters.

      But thanks for visiting my blog.

  53. Alexandra May 25, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    Hello! I have a question regarding the differences in Japan’s school too. I heard a rumor about changing the education system in Japan regarding the beginning and the end of the school year. To be more precise, I heard that they want to start school like in Europe or America. I don’t know if it applies for elementary, junior and high school also.From what I heard, the most involved in this plan are the universities. I’m looking for more details about this and if you also know something about it please let me know.

    • tokyo5 May 25, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

      I don’t know when the school year begins in Europe. But in Japan, it’s from April – March and in America it goes from somewhere around September – around June.

      And you’re correct—some private universities (and their affiliated private high schools) have recently been debating changing their school year to match America’s.
      Some people in their administration think it’d help Japanese exchange students going overseas and foreign ones coming here.

      But…what about the rest of the students in Japan?

      Thankfully, public schools haven’t been considering doing this (at least, so far).

      Probably a moot point anyways, because it looks like even the private schools won’t be doing it.

  54. arvbuddy June 2, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    Japan schools sound amazing! I really wish I could go to Japan. It sounds like I would actually be pushed to try hard. I am in an American high school and although I’m in all honors classes, I still feel like they are easy. Also we have so much time off. I don’t get why we need it? Honestly I only need 1 day off a week and that’d be Sunday because of church stuff, but I find myself Friday nights and Saturdays wasting time because there is nothing to do. Homework generally only takes a half hour to a couple hours depending on the projects and stuff due after the weekend is over. I would love to get to go to school more. As weird as that sounds :P It’d be nice to get to learn more stuff.

    • Sam G. June 2, 2012 at 11:39 am #

      Depending on what profession you want to get into in the future I would say your time off could be better spent. You get out of it what you put into it.

      On my days off I spent learning about computers on the internet. Programming languages, processor architectures and circuit design, open source software programming, troubleshooting, concurrent programming concepts, and more.

      I also asked my parents for text books which they didn’t mind buying for me. I graduated high school with a couple of industry certifications (which would normally be obtained at a two year technical institute each in a different “track”). Leaving high school I also knew around 10 programming languages. I got horrible grades in high school in normal subjects because I never did the homework but scored exceptional on tests. I got into one of the top universities without much effort for Computer Engineering in Microprocessor Design because of my technical knowledge leading up to graduating high school and not necessarily because of my grades or extracurricular activities.

      Now a days I do parallel programming as a hobby, I know more than 40 programming languages, and my profession at the moment (Unix System Administration) pays for my college degree.

      arvbuddy, I’m not telling you that short story because I’m awesome. I’m telling you about it because I hope to motivate you. Whatever your passion is or whatever you want to be when you “grow up” you should pick up a book or even a text book (ask your parents to buy because they can be expensive as I have around $10000 invested in text books alone). I highly recommend buying text books in your area of interest (or look in your local library as sometimes they have them) though my interests were not available in public libraries which is why I had to ask my parents to buy the books.

      It’s all about the motivation to learn and not necessarily which school system you’re in. Sure some are better at teaching the basics than others but you’ll find that in any system. I’m sure Japan has it’s ups and downs in quality just like America.

      Hopefully this will motivate you to spend your Fridays and Saturdays and those “extra” days off in the summer on something worth while like I did. I wouldn’t have been able to learn about my specialized skills if all of my time was taken up by school and activities like the system is in Japan. Think of it that way. Pros and Cons for each.

      • Sam G. June 2, 2012 at 11:46 am #

        arvbuddy, as a reference for you I’m 25 years old. I graduated high school when I was 18 years old.

      • tokyo5 June 2, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

        @Sam G….

        >I got into one of the top universities without much effort

        You must be very smart, too!

        >I wouldn’t have been able to learn about my specialized skills if all of my time was taken up by school and activities like the system is in Japan.

        Japanese kids have plenty of free time…not “all of their time” is “taken up by school and activities”…but they have less idle time than in America.
        Most kids (and adults) in any country don’t spend their free time studying…I think you’re an exception.

        Anyways, in Japan, rather than buying books and studying on one’s own…there are specialized technical / vocational high schools here where students can begin learning a specialized skill in addition to the “normal” school subjects.

      • tokyo5 June 2, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

        @Sam G….

        >I graduated high school when I was 18 years old.

        So, was that in 2005?
        I feel old! ;)

      • Sam G. June 3, 2012 at 1:00 am #

        > So, was that in 2005?
        Yeah I graduated HS in 2005.

      • tokyo5 June 3, 2012 at 1:32 am #

        @Sam G…

        >Yeah I graduated HS in 2005.

        So, I suppose you were born in 1987. I was in my final year of high back then!

    • tokyo5 June 2, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

      @arvbuddy…

      >I’m in all honors classes, I still feel like they are easy.

      You must be very smart. Why don’t you ask to advance a grade?

      >I find myself Friday nights and Saturdays wasting time because there is nothing to do.

      Relax and spend time with your friends / girlfriend / family. ;)

  55. Akira June 3, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

    how are the test scoring different in japan than in america? Im japanese but born and raised in america and i’ve never been to japan yet.

    • tokyo5 June 3, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

      Well, for one thing, the passing score is lower in Japan. But that doesn’t mean they’re easier … Japanese school curriculum is more difficult than in America.

  56. none June 4, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

    I liked your article, but I teach at elementary school in Japan and there are some times when I prefer the American system. For example, informing parents when a child is bad. At my schools the teachers will never tell the parents when their child is misbehaving stating “they won’t believe me and I’ll get in trouble”, I’ve seen a lot of terrible, rude, disrespectful children here and there are absolutely no consequences. In an American school if a child is bad the parents are informed so that the necessary changes can be made at home. Also, kids in Japan have to be equal, no one is special. That makes getting them to answer questions difficult, no one wants to raise their hand and stand out at times when the questions are difficult. I got in trouble once because I gave stickers to people who answered questions in class (easy questions, everyone would have been able to get a sticker) and the kids who didnt pay attention in class felt bad about not getting a sticker. I’m also not allowed to keep score when we play games. Japanese schools have a lot of unity which I like, but American schools encourage healthy competition.

    Japanese kids learn to be respectful and disciplined in their studies, but they can’t do anything unless they’re told step by step how to do it, they have trouble being creative. I’ve had entire classes of first graders who seemed completely unable to use their imagination. Aparently it’s not natural as I once thought. American kids lack respect and discipline, but they don’t have as much trouble getting themselves from A to B without step by step instructions. I’ve been teaching here for about 5 years and I run into the same problems over and over again.

    • tokyo5 June 4, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

      If a kid in Japan does something “very serious”, then the parents are notified … but Japanese kids don’t usually get into that kind of trouble, normally.
      And for “normal misbehavior”, teachers are expected to take care of it without involving the principal or parents.

      I think Japanese are creative and good with competition.

  57. Michele June 7, 2012 at 3:29 am #

    Your initial post was interesting but after reading the comments, it appears you are not open minded to seeing any flaws in the Japanese education system. To simply say that one is superior than the other is misleading. I live in an affluent American town which has top schools within our state (MA). Every year there are several lists of “top schools” and they all vary considerably. They are based on a number of different criteria (test scores, graduation rates, success stories of graduates, clubs available, money spent per student, etc), and each list has a different way of measuring schools. As a result, sometimes my town is listed number one, sometimes number 5, sometimes number 10. How can anyone say that one method is the better way of measuring schools? These lists are based on quantitative data. The reasons you mention in your post for Japan’s “superior” education are mainly qualitative….in other words, just your biased judgment.

    Furthermore, your belief that your kids are getting a better education in Japan than what you received in the US does not correctly translate into “Japanese schools are better than US ones”. There are too many variables to take into consideration. Your US experience was decades ago, thus you are comparing a memory to what your kids are experiencing right now. Also, I can say the same thing….. “my children’s schooling is better than what I experienced as a child”. Why not compare similar experiences? Compare the experience from someone who has experienced both cultures recently. I have Japanese friends who have two school aged children who lived in Toyko for years, then moved to NYC, then Toyko, then MA, and are now back in Toyko. They would do anything to come back to America. They could write a better post than the one you did…….due to their recent experience of both cultures, as well as an openness to see strengths and weaknesses. Currently my friend is establishing a company in the Toyko area to help Japanese be more open and accepting to other cultures. Maybe you should take her class.

    • tokyo5 June 8, 2012 at 1:53 am #

      >Your initial post was interesting

      Thank you.

      >it appears you are not open minded to seeing any flaws in the Japanese education system.

      I know there are many comments on this post, but if you read through them you’ll find instances that I agree with some of the critiques of Japan’s educational system…

      >To simply say that one is superior than the other is misleading.

      No it isn’t since I qualified the statement as my opinion…not misleading at all.

      >How can anyone say that one method is the better way of measuring schools?

      I gave numerous examples of what I feel makes a superior school…but some other important points that make Japan’s schools excellent are:
      safety, teachers who pay attention and show interest in every student, higher academic level, etc…

      >The reasons you mention in your post for Japan’s “superior” education are mainly qualitative….in other words, just your biased judgment.

      Yes, that’s why I wrote “in my opinion” every time.

      >your belief that your kids are getting a better education in Japan than what you received in the US does not correctly translate into “Japanese schools are better than US ones”.

      “In my opinion” it does.

      >Why not compare similar experiences?

      I can only compare what I’m familiar with.

      >Compare the experience from someone who has experienced both cultures recently.

      How could I? Anyways, as I stated in the post, I think America’s schools are similar enough to how they were when I attended them.

      >I have Japanese friends who…would do anything to come back to America.

      I’m sure there are people who prefer America’s schools system over Japan’s…though I couldn’t imagine why.

      >They could write a better post than the one you did

      Well then…ask them to. And, if they do, please tell where I might read it. I’d be interested.

      >Currently my friend is establishing a company in the Toyko area to help Japanese be more open and accepting to other cultures.

      Do you assume that Japanese people are less accepting of other cultures than people of other countries are? Because I’d have to beg to differ.

      >Maybe you should take her class.

      Just because I don’t agree with most of the critiques of Japanese schools that were left by this post’s visitors, you assume that I’m close-minded to other cultures?
      That’s a broad assumption!

  58. Anonymous June 12, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

    Very interesting post. I myself am Korean-American and I love hearing about the differences in other countries, especially in school life, but I don’t agree with saying Japanese schools are far superior to American schools just by comparing you and daughters’ education.

    Although I don’t have any first-hand experience with Japanese education, I do have colleagues that have studied abroad in Japan and have their children enrolled in Japanese schools. From what they’ve told me, yes Japanese schools are in general much safer than American schools, but their emphasis on memorization and finding that one right answer trains Japanese students to be workers (this can also be said about schools throughout Asia). On the other hand, American schools teach their students to be leaders by focusing on creativity and individuality. Again, I don’t have any personal experience with Japanese education and by Japan’s high scores in Math and Science, they’re definitely doing something right, but I don’t agree with using your education to say so because your education =/= all of American education.

    The education I received in the states varies from yours and I also studied in Florida.
    Our school year begins in August (never September) and ends in May/June.
    There is no such thing as a uniform-less school in my district (Miami-Dade, 415 schools and the 4th largest in the country). Starting from Kindergarten, uniforms are mandatory. Some pre-schools may also require it.
    We don’t really have a “School Entrance Ceremony”, unless you count Student Orientation for kindergarten/elementary, middle schools and high schools, but I had a graduation every year until 9th grade, then I had high school graduation.

    I believe (from hearsay) Japanese education is superior in some things, while American education is superior in others.

    Overall, the Japanese education system seems more down my alley and if I could have chosen where to get my education (since Kindergarten), I would have gone to Japan. I read your previous comments and I like the social aspect of Japan’s education system. It seems more enjoyable. If you could expand more on that (how the students appreciate their school and are more attached to it), I’d appreciate it! Plus, there’s no stressing over getting all your credits, and passing all your AP, AICE, and IB exams…something I dreaded about high school.

    /ah, I wrote an essay! Just curious, is there a lot of essay writing in Japan or is multiple choice more common?

    • tokyo5 June 12, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

      > Very interesting post.

      Thank-you.

      > Their emphasis on memorization and finding that one right answer trains Japanese students to be workers…American schools teach their students to be leaders by focusing on creativity and individuality.

      Yes, that’s true. But I think that America is sometimes OVER-concerned with individuality.
      There are schools in Japan though (such as those that major in arts or robotics) that encourage creativity.

      > your education =/= all of American education.

      But I’m sure my schools in Florida were similar to any other school in America.

      > There is no such thing as a uniform-less school in my district

      Did you attend a private school?
      I’m comparing public school systems.

      > is there a lot of essay writing in Japan or is multiple choice more common?

      It would depend on what type of test it is.
      Math, for example, is usually neither of those … but rather just solving the problem.
      But generally speaking, I’d say “multiple choice” is more common than essay-writing.

      • Anonymous June 16, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

        > Yes, that’s true. But I think that America is sometimes OVER-concerned with individuality.
        There are schools in Japan though (such as those that major in arts or robotics) that encourage creativity.

        Like technical/magnet schools? I really value individuality so to not have that emphasized in regular schools, it’s a down-side in my opinion, but I see your point.

        > Did you attend a private school?

        I only attended public schools. All schools in my district, regardless if they’re public, private, or charter, are uniform schools.

        One more question…
        Have you heard of a case when a student got held back/skipped a grade in Japan or does that just not happen?

      • tokyo5 June 16, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

        I suppose it may be possible for a public school student in Japan to be held-back or advanced early … but I doubt it.
        My wife and my kids have never heard of that happening.

        In Japan, the view is basically that kids are given an education and, with parental and teacher guidance, it’s up to them to take advantage of it.

        Rather than a GPA to impress colleges, kids in Japan have an interview and, hopefully a Letter-of-Recommendation from their teacher to enter both high school and college.

  59. Lindsay June 13, 2012 at 7:31 am #

    I am interested in really hearing the main differences you see in the approach taken by American teachers vs. Japanese teachers at the elementary level. Whats a typical day like in Japan classroom? It seems the view the children have towards going to school is much different that the American “youth”, why do you think that is? I look forward to hearing back from you soon!

    • tokyo5 June 13, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

      >main differences…in the approach taken by American teachers vs. Japanese teachers at the elementary level.

      It’d be difficult to explain in detail … but a simple, general answer is I’d say that a school teacher / student relationship in Japan is more “parent / child”-like than it is in America. In Japan, teachers are responsible for all discipline — students aren’t sent to the principal here.

      Children are also not held-back a year (nor moved ahead early)… the kids and teacher are together all year. The class has a more “team”, or almost “family”, feel.

      The teacher is concerned about her students even after they move on in grades.

      >Whats a typical day like in Japan classroom?

      That’s difficult to explain in detail too. It’s quite different from American schools. Besides what I wrote in this post, another difference that may interest you is that students in Japan are encouraged to help their classmates when they struggle with a problem.

      It’s actually a difference between Japan and America’s cultures in general, not just schools … Japan is more “team oriented” and America is more “individual first”.

      >the view (that Japanese) children have towards going to school is much different that the American “youth”, why do you think that is?

      Is that so? Most Japanese kids would prefer to stay home, if given a choice. Culture differences aside, kids are kids.

  60. Alexander Thomas July 1, 2012 at 10:00 am #

    Hello, I notice that you are dedicated to replying so I thought I would leave a comment, most of my knowledge comes from Japanese Anime and a quality interest in Japan, so I study Japan often(My interest in Japan actually made my ignorance of other cultures go away)
    I can say I am a bit of Japanese, but not much, mostly Filipino and Chinese.(Raised in America, Still Live Too) Reading this has gave me the encouragement to actually ask my parents if I could go to High School in Japan. I am currently striving to learn the Japanese language(I have Hiragana and Katakana charts hung upon my room, trying to get Kanji charts too)
    I would love to live my High School life in Japan, and if not high school, even college in Japan. The Cultural aspect that is taught in Japan seems a bit more me, although I can say I still will hold American culture inside of me. Could you give me tips on how a foreigner could adapt to living in Japan and be socially excepted?

    Recently America’s(Surprisingly to someone’s post, I do call the U.S. America) became quite a bore for me. It is not a hate comment, but simply what I feel. My general make-up on how I feel since learning about Japan has changed,
    I only have one life, and I hope I can spend most of it in Japan. Some may find my dedication to Japan totally awkward and idiotic. But that’s just me.

    A few things that have appeased to me seem to be Uniforms, Cultural Festivals(This seems to be a common thing in School life, right?) Social Life(Seems surprisingly open)
    Clubs. (Honestly, I bet the time I get to Highschool there won’t even be half as much aftershool clubs as Japanese Schools seem to have. And the Attitude or Atmosphere a common Japanese school seems to have.

    That said this is basically what I love about Japan(There’s a lot more, but trying to keep it more shorter)

    I would also like to give a side-note on some of the comments, it seems to me that some people seem to feel “Sorry.”
    Well, I’ve said this a lot to people, but it is especially rude when you pity someone for something they love and accept. I do find the long breaks in America to be horribly long, and would rather spend my time having a more active social life in school with my friends and something to learn. That’s also something that Jap. schools have appealed to me for. Social Relationships seem to be a big thing in Japan, and I believe a working community rather than an individual leader can have better outcomes. Although leaders are important, strong bonds are most important in Humanity. The Bonds that you seem to speak off between teacher and student and student-student is an aspiration that I wish would be taught in America.

    Anyways, I hope you don’t find this very long, just simply wanted to express my opinion on this kind of topic. It’s somewhat like a “supporting” opinion for the original post. America might have better knowledgable aspects in some subjects, but the social atmosphere just doesn’t fit that many students. However, Japan’s atmospshere feels like it makes people feel welcome and that their’s a certain motivation that moves people to be their best.
    Also one random question for Tokyo5

    Do you know of any “delinquents” that actually attend high school, and as delinquent I mean students who do their best in the Social Aspect, but fail when it comes to following classes or just skipping classes?
    -Also, is it true that you can Skip Classes without any “High” consequences? This fits in with the delinquent question, but I feel that I’ve seen this in a variety of “Slice of Life”(Realistic) Animes.
    TY for reading this “Long Post!” if you do…

    • tokyo5 July 1, 2012 at 10:44 am #

      Thank-you for commenting on my blog!

      You implied that you’re not in high school yet … are you a junior high school student?

      Are you asking me how you can come to Japan to live beginning in high school?

      You’ve decided that you want to live here based on what you seen only on the internet and in Japanese anime?

      I think you should visit first.

      Maybe your school’s councilor could help you become an exchange student in Japan.

  61. Alexander Thomas July 1, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    1. Yea, I am in Junior High

    “You’ve decided that you want to live here based on what you seen only on the internet and in Japanese anime?”

    Hmm… yeah, that’s mainly it. It’s more of a kid’s dream though. To be more realistic, I should visit Japan as you say. But I am confident on this “Dream.” I plan on visiting Asia in a couple of years possibly, Mainly for the Phiippines, but the airport drops you off in Japan first. So I will do lots of everything as much as possible.

    “Maybe your school’s councilor could help you become an exchange student in Japan.”

    You can seriously be an exchange student in Junior High/High School? I never knew that, I’ll look it up and discuss it with my family/counselor. It would be nice to be in Japan for a while :)
    I don’t know how my family will react though. It’s hard to convince them on things like this.

    “Are you asking me how you can come to Japan to live beginning in high school?”

    Kind of. That is an important part. But i’m asking more of how I can get used to the culture more easier.

    • tokyo5 July 1, 2012 at 11:19 am #

      Some schools have exchange programs.
      To attend a public school in Japan you must be able to understand spoken and written Japanese.
      Private international schools may have exchange programs too … I don’t know much about private schools.

      Regarding how to learn to adapt to Japan’s culture … once again, I’d suggest a home-stay / exchange program.

  62. Fabian July 2, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

    Hello, I’vs been skimming through your blog and Japan just seems amazing. I just recently graduated from high school in california. I have gone to two different high schools. The first one I went to wasnt in the best place ever. Meaning that there is a lot of crime aroubd the city, it was ghetto. There was a lot of gangs and drugs at the school also no one really cared about school you had to be there or your parent would get fined or arrested and if you did care about you would be called a nerd and get bullied not always just depends on your popularity. a lot of graffiti a lot of muggings I personally just mugged. With that I got into trouble with gangs and drugs. But thankfully my mom changed me to a different school it was also a public school it was a city over from my previous one and it was amazing more friendly but also still had it problems fights,drugs ect. but not as many.
    I had a question is it true that classes stay together from one grade to another?

    • tokyo5 July 2, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

      That’s good that you were able to change to a better school … too bad there were still drugs at the new one.

      Drugs and violence … thankfully unheard of in Japanese schools!

      Regarding your question about classes …
      No.
      Classmates are together in every class everyday … but not every year in Japan. Each new school year, the students are moved around.

  63. TMK July 26, 2012 at 10:19 am #

    Hi, I’m currently doing a project on this for my own school, but I am using Australia “my own country” as an example. Could you elaborate if possible?

    • tokyo5 July 26, 2012 at 10:41 am #

      I don’t know anything about Australia’s school system … but I’ll be happy to help, if I can.

      Why don’t you email me through my Contact Form and ask me any questions … I’ll do my best to answer.

  64. Robert August 4, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    Interesting post. :)

    I’m a high school student in Canada, and we have a school system that is very similar to the American education system (most likely adopted from the Americans), and I do feel like the education here is lacking, both academically in general.
    I immigrated from Hong Kong when I was still a toddler, and my parents often mention the superiority of education in Asian countries, which I did not have a chance to experience. I am in many ways dissatisfied with education in Canada, and also with the way schools are run here. I would much rather learn in an East-Asian country where education is more advanced.
    In Canada, there are a ridiculous amount of breaks and holidays. The summer holiday is 2 months, the winter holiday is 2 weeks, and there is a 1 week break in the spring. Usually, during these breaks, I have NOTHING to do, because teachers here “don’t believe in” giving homework during breaks. I’m really tired of this nonsense, and I believe the only reason teachers here assign so little homework and have so few tests is because they are too lazy to check homework completion or evaluate tests.
    In the schools I have attended in Canada, lunch is quite a different matter here than it is in Japan. My elementary school did not provide lunches (where I live, elementary school encompasses grades 1 – 8), and on the contrary, my high school has a cafeteria that sells lunches… for extremely high prices.
    I don’t know how it is in Japan, but in Canadian high schools, students choose which courses they take, with some courses being mandatory. It is only mandatory to take one year of gym class, so most students completely stop getting exercise after their first year. (we don’t shower at school even though showers are provided in our changing rooms) All sports teams have try-outs, though most teams require a fee to pay for equipment and transportation to competition venues. I compete on my school badminton team, and through participating in sports at my school, I have found that athletics in Canadian high schools are severely lacking in funding, as are the art departments (visual arts, music, drama). I actively participate in many clubs in my school, though I can’t say the same about most of my friends.
    Academic standards here also seem to be much lower than they are in Japan. The pace of learning here is very slow, and more intelligent students are hindered by others in their classes, because education here lacks individuality.
    Japan seems like a great country to live and grow up in, especially with such a low crime rate. I’ve been thinking about the possibility of moving to Japan after I graduate from University. If I tried to enter university in Japan, I’d probably be way below standard!

    • tokyo5 August 4, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

      Thanks for the interesting comment.

      When I was a kid in America, I was happy to have no homework all summer!

      If you want to come to Japan, why don’t you do a high school exchange student program?

  65. M.Brito August 9, 2012 at 7:07 am #

    Very interesting post,

    Thank you for the usefull information. I am going to study in a Japanese High school this year, and I look forward to it. I will give it my best.

    I do not study in the U.S. though. I’m actually living in Brazil. At South America.
    I attend a private High School here, because the public education is lacking. I can say that for sure, because I already had the experience to shortly attend a public school.

    I like the way Japanese public and private school does not seem to be so different. I can not affirm that, but it is what my Japanese teacher always tell. I like also the fact that the students clean everything, it is good to learn to take care what is yours. We doesn’t have it here. The janitors will do for us.

    In a private school here, the education is good and most schools have technology at class such as computers and an interactive whiteboard as well. The students that are willing to learn will find it easy and enjoyable, but many students does not give the school the proper attention. The student will not go to the next grade if the teaching staff think that the student have not followed the class level.

    We have the cousine, where people are played to make lunch for the students, we have to buy it tough. I do not eat at school, the class starts really early in the morning and ends at the lunch time, so I usually go to somewhere nearby until my afternoon extra activities.

    We are not obligated to do an extra activity, and if we choose to do, we will have to pay for it. Language classes and sports are not played at my school because the fees are really expensive, so it would be ridiculous if we had to.

    • tokyo5 August 9, 2012 at 11:06 am #

      Will you be coming to Japan to attend a high school here this year?
      When will you start? In America (and maybe Brazil (?)), the new school year is just beginning…but in Japan, this school year is already one-third over.

      Will you be attending a “regular” Japanese school or an international school?

      What part of Japan will you be coming to? For how long?
      Is it your first time to Japan? Can you speak Japanese?

      I only ask so many questions because I’m interested. Thanks.

      > Language classes and sports are not played at my school because the fees are really expensive

      Foreign languages and sports aren’t studied at your school? Is that normal in Brazil?

      • M.Brito August 10, 2012 at 7:02 am #

        >Will you be coming to Japan to attend a high school here this year? When will you start?

        Yes, I will be going this year. My school will start September 3rd.

        >In America (and maybe Brazil (?)), the new school year is just beginning…but in Japan, this school year is already one-third over.

        Yes, I was informed and they told me it is because most of the exchange student’s are from U.S. so they just made it to all the exchange students to start at this point. It was kind of awkward to me because Brazilian schools start the year at february.

        >Will you be attending a “regular” Japanese school or an international school?
        I will be attending a regular school with an tecnical schol integrated.

        >What part of Japan will you be coming to? For how long?
        Is it your first time to Japan? Can you speak Japanese?
        I’m going to the south, at Kagoshima. I will stay for an year and it is my first time going to Japan. I attend Japanese classes since 2008.

        >> Language classes and sports are not played at my school because the fees are really expensive

        >Foreign languages and sports aren’t studied at your school? Is that normal in Brazil?

        I’m so sorry it went wrong. At my school we don’t need to pay for the sports and language classes because the school fee is already too expensive so it comes out “free” for us. We don’t need to pay it at my school, but in the others schools at my country the students usualy pay for sports and any onther languages that aren’t english(english is obligatory even in the public school so it’s free)

        I liked the questions, I don’t mind answering them.

      • tokyo5 August 10, 2012 at 7:23 am #

        Oh, the Brazilian school year starts in February? That’s summer there, isn’t it?

        It’s too bad you couldn’t do your exchange year in spring, when the Japanese school year starts … it’s closer to your country’s.

        So, you’re tri-lingual, aren’t you? You can speak Portuguese, English and Japanese. That’s great!

        I hope you enjoy your time in Japan! A full year! You’re very lucky. You can experience a lot of Japanese life and culture in that time.

        You will see that Japanese schools are quite different from what you’re used to. Actually, Japan in general is so different from “western” countries.

      • M.Brito August 10, 2012 at 7:58 am #

        Yes, but I had no choice since that is the program.

        I can speak a little of Spanish too, since it’s not so diferent from Portuguese. I don’t think this is that great, but is usefull, can’t deny it.

        I am looking forward to go. I will live with a family that owns a temple, so I will experience the old Japanese culture. At the end, my father will let me stay a month in Tokyo before a come back.

        >You will see that Japanese schools are quite different from what you’re used to. Actually, Japan in general is so different from “western” countries.
        I am looking for that. Something diferent. I will try my best.

      • tokyo5 August 10, 2012 at 8:06 am #

        A month in Tokyo? Alone? Where will you stay?

        You will have two “culture shocks” then, I guess. Kagoshima is so different from Brazil, I’m sure…and then, big city Tokyo is so different from rural Kagoshima!

      • M.Brito August 10, 2012 at 8:58 am #

        Sure thing. Wish me luck.

      • tokyo5 August 10, 2012 at 10:31 am #

        I’m sure you’ll enjoy it here.
        When I first came to Japan in 1990, I intended to stay only for two years but decided to make it my home!

  66. Renee Patteerson August 13, 2012 at 3:09 am #

    I remember my pr-k graduation, we sang songs, it was fun. I believe i also had a kindergarten graduation, I know I had a middle school one. and I graduated last year. My high school was ok….after my freshman year they cancelled a lot of classes for seniors, so I didn’t have a lot to do during my senior year. We didn’t have many clubs either, all the ones we did have hardly anyone knew about, since they never made a list of what we could join. After I graduated they cancelled one of the clubs I joined, I wish they made it manditory for high school students to join clubs like some Japanse schools do I believe. I think less people would have dropped out if they did, since its a small town many people just get into trouble, ( I go to school in America by the way) or complain they have nothing to do.

    • tokyo5 August 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

      >I remember my pr-k graduation… it was fun.

      Does “Pre-K” mean pre-school?

      >i also had a kindergarten graduation…I had a middle school one.

      Really? Did you go to public school in America? Private school?

      >they cancelled a lot of classes for seniors (students in final year of high school)

      Why did they do that?

      >We didn’t have many clubs either, all the ones we did have hardly anyone knew about, since they never made a list of what we could join.

      When I was a student in America, my school didn’t promote the clubs and teams or make students feel welcome to join them like they do in Japanese schools.

      >I wish they made it manditory for high school students to join clubs like some Japanse schools do

      It’s not mandatory to join a club or team in Japanese schools … but it’s encouraged. And there are no “try-outs”, club enrollment isn’t dependent on good grades, and younger students feel welcome to join.

      • Renee Patteerson August 14, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

        yes pre-k can mean pre-school also mean pre-kindergarten, for middle school I went to a public school.They cancelled the classes either because the teachers didn’t want to teach them any more or because of money issues. my step brothers school gives out a list for each freshman for each club they can join, for sports they call each house to tell them when try outs are, I think thats really helpfull for students.

      • tokyo5 August 15, 2012 at 8:45 am #

        They cancelled classes because the teacher didn’t want to teacher that subject? Is that right?

  67. Olivia Ann Sarisha Lough August 15, 2012 at 5:39 am #

    Hello I have a question. You know how in high school, there are more than one periods… Well, in Japan, do they have just one classroom that teaches the whole time or is it different periods just like it is here?

    • tokyo5 August 15, 2012 at 8:58 am #

      In Japanese junior high and high schools, there are five or six periods a day … but done differently than in America (I’ll assume that’s where you live).

      For one, the students don’t change classrooms — the teachers do.
      With the exception of gym class, music, cooking, wood shop, art, etc… the students stay in the same room.

      Also, the students are with the same classmates all year.

      And … they don’t have the same schedule all year like in American schools … Japanese students have a different schedule for each day of the week. That way the can study five or six subjects a day, but about a dozen or so subjects a week!

      • Renee Patteerson August 15, 2012 at 10:28 am #

        Yes that is what they told us, thats the reason they cancelled some of the classes.

      • tokyo5 August 15, 2012 at 10:43 am #

        That could never happen in Japan!

  68. kagumiko August 16, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    I have a question. I understand that school is strict in Japan, but do the teachers ever encourage their students to try their best or congratulate them on their hard work? And when a student needs to ask questions, are they allowed to do so? I remember you saying that the teachers come in for about an hour and then just leave, that doesn’t seem to be very hands on, if so.

    Furthermore, you say that students enjoy their school life, but why is school so heavily pressured on students? Suicide rates go up once test scores come out, shouldn’t that be a concern?

    I just think that Japanese society is a little hard on their people. Though I think that it’s somewhat better than America’s, pressure to do well in school, do well in college and work for so long that you don’t get to see much of your family is kind of sad. Maybe I don’t understand because I’m not from Japan.

    Also, I apologize for some people’s ignorant behavior. They used pretty rude remarks towards you for no good reason, I don’t really see why they’re so upset.

    • tokyo5 August 16, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

      >in Japan…do the teachers ever encourage their students to try their best or congratulate them

      Yes, of course.
      But, until high school, students aren’t normally given “failing” grades. Instead, teachers will usually make extra effort to help struggling students.

      >when a student needs to ask questions, are they allowed to do so?

      Of course. But the Japanese personality … students usually feel more comfortable asking for help from classmates or a cram-school teacher. But they’ll ask their teacher too — just maybe less often than American students do.

      >… teachers come in for about an hour and then just leave, that doesn’t seem to be very hands on

      In an American school, students leave the room after the class ends … but they can talk to the teacher in the time between classes, if they wish.
      Similarly in Japan, the teacher changes rooms every class, but will stay for the time between classes and speak with a student who asks to.

      >students enjoy their school life, but why is school so heavily pressured on students?

      I don’t think that Japanese students feel anymore pressure than kids in other countries do.

      >Suicide rates…shouldn’t that be a concern?

      Japan has a higher suicide rate than a lot of other countries … and of course it’s a concern.

      >I just think that Japanese society is a little hard on their people.

      I guess it could seem that way but I think that most people are happy with Japan’s standard-of-living and realize that an effort is required to make Japan what it is.

      >I apologize for some people’s…rude remarks

      No need. You’re responsible only for your own comments (which are quite polite! ) … and anyway, I appreciate all comments, positive and negative– and I don’t take any of them personal.

  69. US-Student August 26, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    This was a very interesting article to read. Thank you for posting.
    I am currently in high school in America, so I just want to say a few things. For high schools in my area, we have to take tests or auditions to go to the schools we want, and some people live far away from their school. There are no school buses except for in elementary school. I take a city bus, a ferry boat, and two trains to get to my school. Some people eat lunch from school but most people bring lunch from home.There are a lot of clubs (more than 100) in my school, including things like sports. After gym we don’t take a shower but we do change clothes. Almost everyone is in a major (vocal, drama, art, dance, instrumental) or they’re just there for academics. And like you mentioned, there is a lot of technology in our school. So I guess schools have really changed over the years.

    • tokyo5 August 26, 2012 at 9:30 am #

      Your school sounds completely different from schools that I went to in America!

      Especially the commute … where do you live that you need to take a boat to school?

      Are you in a private or pubic school?

  70. Matthew August 26, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    Wow, I get E-mail about this thread from time to time in my mailbox and I always mean to go read the thread replys from when I posted it. I see the origional site has changed and I like the new layout of it. Little disappointed my origional post didn’t survive when I started it but I’m glad I got around to reading some of the replies since I love reading about diffrent experiances and cultures though :)

    Reading over the post I still feel that the U.S. school system would benefit if it adopted idea’s from the Japanese school system. There’s no perfect system but there has to be something better than what we have going on now.Since I’ve mostly caught up on the post I’ll look forward to seeing more :)

  71. Tyler September 13, 2012 at 2:39 am #

    Im currently a junior high school student and although i would be dissapointed in the lack of vacation from school the education system does sound better than mine and for everyone to be in a club after school would be great.

    • tokyo5 September 13, 2012 at 7:42 am #

      I think Japanese students get plenty of vacation time… American students get too much! (Do you live in America?)

      If you could join one of the clubs in a Japanese school, which would you choose? Kendo? Judo? Soccer? Band?

      Are you in a club at your school?

  72. Josh September 13, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    Thank you for posting about this, as I have a few friends here in Japan, and we often discuss the differences in the school systems.

    I would said that most of my friends say that American schools seem to be a little more relaxed and lenient than Japanese schools. They are amazed at the amount of free time/vacation and lack of homework that American children have.

    I have only been in Japan for a little over 1 year, but I would agree with your last statement where you stated that your children are getting a superior education here in Japan than in America.

    Americans tend to let their pride get in the way of logical and realistic thinking, and just assume America’s Education is superior because, “well, it is America, so isn’t everything superior there”.

    Having worked with elementary school children for the past 6 years, and now learning about Japanese schools, I would wholeheartedly agree that the overall education system in Japan is superior.

    Thanks for the information!

    • tokyo5 September 13, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

      I think I could have made this post even longer and listed more differences because the two school systems are so different!

  73. Matthew September 14, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    I think Josh hit the nail on the head with America thinking it’s superior in many aspect, I’d say arrogant in some area’s. I noticed clubs seem to pop up a lot and while they wouldn’t work with every district in terms of logistic with travel to and from I think they are a great thing. For me I was in the drum line in school and when people talk about not having time with you’re friends I had a lot of friends I was with in it. Same goes for sports I’m sure with a lot of clubs like mided people naturally come together and form a friendly bond. Besided looking back on school I can promise you I had nothing so promising in my life I couldn’t have given up time for a weekly club.

    More than anyhting I’d like to see the emphasis but back into learning and not things like sports or nit picking to the point of idiocy. Perfect example is the local school district can no longer grade in red ink because it might hurt the childs feelings….. I’m all for being aware of a childs mental state but red ink….. How much time and money was spent for something so minor to be made into a policy?

    • tokyo5 September 14, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

      Teachers in American schools aren’t allowed to use red pens anymore?
      How do they grade school-work?

      • kagumiko September 14, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

        I think it depends on the location; I’ve been in three different high schools, and each of them used red pens. Varying in location around the United States, schools seem to be very different.

        I’ve been reading comments here (I still get notifications from new comments), and a lot of the schools are nothing like what I’ve been through. Then again, there were differences in those three schools I went to as well!

        For example, at the school I’m in now, we have two different schedules; one is an “A” day, and one is a “B” day, and they alternate every day. There are two semesters, and something called “grad exams”, which are fairly pointless, in my opinion, because they don’t actually help the students learn, have no new material or weight in your grade, and if you do not pass them, you don’t graduate. This state is the only state that has them, as far as I know.

        Your experience may vary!

      • tokyo5 September 14, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

        That’s another difference between schools in Japan and America.
        In America, each state makes their own curriculum for the children’s education…but in Japan, the federal government’s ministry of education decides what must be taught at all pubic schools in the whole country.

  74. Matthew September 15, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    Hmmm, I don’t think each school makes it’s own curriculum as much as they are given guidelines to meet in each department from the federal goverment and then the school boards of the state/county/district build it as they think works best. Obviously the chain of command and decision making is to long to be truely flexable in terms of whats best.

    I should point out though that each district will order books on their own instead of a standard edition for the nation. I know Texas and California often influance how books are made because they seem to purchase the most. Also area’s in the West will focus on diffrent parts of history than Eastern schools for example. Depending on the political leanings of certian states or counties the books are skewed in that direction.

    As far as standardized testing I think in theroy they are a good measure, but they should be looked over because they are causing schools to teach ion order to try and pass them as opposed to teaching children how to think and adapt as needed. Scores are great but if a child cannot perform as well in the real world then the education was for naught. Then again I’d also transition to a year round school schedule since no one really needs summer off to help in the fields for the summer. While kids need time off to much rots the brain. 3 months without and educational stimulation is wasted brain matter.

    • tokyo5 September 15, 2012 at 11:13 am #

      I agree that having the entire summer off from school is excessive.

      Another difference between the schools in our countries:
      I heard that some teachers in America are striking now.
      Almost noone in Japan goes on strike… definitely not teachers!
      That’s a cultural difference.

      • Matthew September 16, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

        Yeah, they are striking over 2 points it seems. They want teacher evaluations thrown out and a diffrent method of rehiring those laid off. In reality the Teachers unions are part of the problem in the school system.

      • tokyo5 September 16, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

        Why would they be against teacher evaluations?

  75. Matthew September 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    Well my personal experiance is that union protect the worst people from being fired. Their argument has some validity in the sense they cannot choose their students so there would be an ebb and flow from year to year. Also once school ends teachers in the US clock out and their pretty much done. Once the child returns home its a coin toss if they recieve any kind of educational reinforcment like help with homework or even parents expecting them to do it. In additon with all that free time other things are more important to them that school so to hold them accountable through evaluations is a tricky situation. More so since people in the US are unwilling to accept the fact that their child is just stupid or lazy. They blame the teacher because it’s easier to assign blame there than it is to be a good parent.

    So is it tough to evaluate yes, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen. As it is if you google cases about teachers taking years to be fired for improper acts like possessing child porno but spend years on paid leave because of the legal issues brought forth by the unions. I mean really you’re going to defend THAT! I reitterate the culture of the US and mindset of the people in charge are the core issue here I think all the wat from the student -> parent -> unions -> goverment and then some. This no one can fail mentality creates lack luster adults. Even if they were sucessful in this ideal the currest system cannot support it.

    • tokyo5 September 17, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

      >union(s) protect the worst people from being fired

      So, do you suggest eliminating teacher unions?

  76. Matthew September 18, 2012 at 2:20 am #

    I would say yes. If they spend so much time and resources on teachers who need to be terminated then how does that help the educational system? I’m not sure about the unions over their but the teachers union is all about them and damn the conciquences. Thats not to say there are no good teachers but the unions are just damn greedy.

    • tokyo5 September 18, 2012 at 7:24 am #

      I don’t know a lot about unions but in Japan, as I mentioned, teachers don’t go on strike.
      And I’ve never heard of teachers here protesting their pay, benefits or evaluations…but there was one teacher-related news story from awhile back that I remember — in Japan, there aren’t flags in the classrooms like there are in American classrooms and they don’t say a pledge to flag or country like American children do everyday … but, on special occasions, Japanese teachers and students sing Japan’s national anthem which honors the Emperor.
      The news story said that some teachers refused to sing it … or even to stand because, they felt, the Japanese national anthem is from pre-WWII militaristic Japan.
      The teachers were fired. Noone went on strike … but, rather, the leaders of the union met with the Board of Education to work out an agreement.
      The teachers got their jobs back after they agreed that they’d, at least, stand for the anthem.

      • kagumiko September 18, 2012 at 8:06 am #

        Ah, that reminds me of when I was in the eighth grade, and I didn’t stand for the pledge of allegiance. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why we do it, but I didn’t feel as if it were necessary. Anyway, the teacher looked at me like I had just shot someone. She pulled me out of the classroom and gave me a lecture and told me that I need to stand when I’m in her classroom, whether I want to or not.

        Personally, I don’t understand why we have to do the pledge daily. I think it’s a bit unnecessary, mostly because a pledge isn’t nullified after one day, is it?

        Back at my old high school in Michigan, we never did the pledge. No one seemed to mind.

      • tokyo5 September 18, 2012 at 9:12 am #

        When I was growing up in America, reciting a pledge to America and the American flag everyday at the start of school just seemed like normal school-day routine to me.
        I’d say the words simply out of habit.

        But having lived most of my adult life in Japan, where that isn’t done, looking back on that ritual of American schools now—I’m now longer used to it.
        It’s another cultural difference between Japan and America…and it seems that I’ve become more used to Japan’s culture as the years have gone by.

  77. Matthew September 18, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    I think the pledge is mostly a throwback to the good old days. During times like WWII and the Cold War it wasn’t seen as unneccisary to show your love for a country. I don’t think it’s something a child should be forced to say by the goverment since it’s something thats really beyond their understanding in elementy school. Once we were into middle school and higher it came over the PA and you stood as a sign of respect but mostly everyone listened. I think it’s something that can translate in things as you get out in the real world as well in terms of showing respect for something even if it’s not your cup of tea. I think a good example is prayer or the national anthem as well. Granted they might mean little to you in your daily life but it’s something that you can respect unless you’re opposed to it on a personal or moral basis.

    • tokyo5 September 18, 2012 at 9:23 am #

      I can see your point, but…the people in Japan are probably the most respectful in the world, and nationalistic rituals like that are no longer done here.

  78. Matthew September 18, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    Back to the statement on unions I think it would be omportant to say that the goverment has made it so easy for unions to make demands that there is a real tug of war in terms of new contracts. I think one fo the best cases would be Boeing who is based in Washington State I believe. They have had strikes it seems like almost every year so when it came time to build a new plant they built it in South Carolina. It doesn’t seem like a big deal but South Carolina is a right to work state and the union has less power there. They took it to the federal goverment and were told hey this nice new 100,000 sq foot facility you just built you cant use because you’re going against the unions. It’s really tooth and nail in the US wich is why a lot of companies are moving oversea’s and willing to pay the cost of shipping from those factories.

    This is a WSJ article, it’s pretty short if anyone is interested.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204831304576594622547658168.html

    • tokyo5 September 18, 2012 at 10:46 am #

      Another difference between Japan and America—the laws between the states in America are often very different.
      Tax rates, driving laws and education standards are different in each state in the U.S., but those are all set by the federal government in Japan.

      • Matthew September 18, 2012 at 11:39 am #

        Agreed, Japan seems very federalized, but that is something this country was origionally against so states held a certian number of rights. Personally I think the federal goverment has grown to big, If the fed was able to work effecently, especially in terms of money, that would be ok. I think a mojor issue we face is the unlimited terms that congress is able to have unlike 2 terms for president.

      • tokyo5 September 18, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

        In what ways do you feel that U.S. government is too big?

  79. Matthew September 19, 2012 at 5:01 am #

    They have departments for everything, these departments make rules and regulations that should be handled by our elected representatives. Instead we have them made by people appointed by a someone else who then implements a law with no real oversight or discussion. There is a lot of redtape and the size of the goverment makes it hard for it to adapt and easy to blame other departments like in Hurricane Katrina or even the Oil Spill in the gulf. The left hand doesn’t know the right hand even exist much less what it’s doing lol. Plus as goverment grows the budget ballons and it becomes less effective than it was before.

    I mean our Tax code has over 70,000 pages long and thats just the federal. States have a seperate code all together and I think thats a perfect example of bloated goverment. Study time and again has also shown that private business out performs goverment becasue in the business world it’s sink or swim, goverment just raises taxes. Same goes for employees, no one wants to lay anyone off but there is a time new technology makes your job obsolete and it’s time to move on, our postal service hasn’t made a profit that I can remember yet they have redundant offices open in places with little traffic. High wages for people who have little to do including retirement. Companies like FexEX and UPS on the other hand are profitable and still expand.

    I think part of it comes down to class warfare, racial warfare, religious warfare, and so forth.

    • tokyo5 September 19, 2012 at 6:33 am #

      I see. But to get back on topic … how does this relate to public education?

      • Matthew September 19, 2012 at 6:40 am #

        At some point the goverment educated these morons to run the goverment poorly?

      • tokyo5 September 19, 2012 at 9:01 am #

        So, it’s a “catch-22″, then! ;)

      • Matthew September 19, 2012 at 9:34 am #

        You got it, without nurturing personal responsability we end up with this haha.

  80. Evan September 21, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    Very good read!
    I’am an American student looking too spend a semester in Japan next year, (I know the language) and I would like to ask, how common are school basketball (バスケットボール) teams in Tokyo, or Japan in general? I ask this because here in America, I’m teh president of our school’s Politics club, and a member of the basketball team (I’m 190 cm tall, will that be a nuisance living in Japan?) and since my prowess in American politics probably won’t add up to much in Japan, I’m wondering: how common are school basketball (バスケットボール) teams or clubs in Japan?

    • Matthew September 21, 2012 at 10:18 am #

      << 200 cm tall so I've asked myself the same thing before lol. Even in the US I'm pushing it sometimes with everything from cars to the occasional door in some buildings. While I can't answer you're question exactly I'll say goodluck and have fun if you get the chance to go. I wish I had been able to do something like that back in Highschool, but thinking back on it the world seemed so much bigger than it does now. I'm not sure if it is because of technology making things seem closer than before or I'm just more aware of it since I've grown older.

      • Evan September 21, 2012 at 11:31 am #

        It’s a great opportunity to get to do something like this, (semester in Japan) not only does it look good on a college application, but I’ll get to go to such an interesting country. I’m very interested in the “city of technology”; Tokyo, and I love the taste of the food! Japanese history also intrigues me, and I’d like to experience collectivist culture, I’m very lucky to get to have an experience like this. I think the world seems so much smaller to you because of (like you said) how connected it is. With the internet, high-speed plane travel, and intertwined world economy, everywhere seems closer today than it did many years ago.

        My questions stands however: Are school basketball teams common in Japan?

      • tokyo5 September 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

        @Matthew

        > I’m not sure if it is because of technology making things seem closer

        Yeah, it was a lot different when I first came to Japan. I think it’s much easier for first-time visitors in Japan now than when I arrived here in 1990!

      • tokyo5 September 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

        @Evan

        > I’m very interested in…Tokyo

        Yes, I think Tokyo is the best city in the world!

        >Are school basketball teams common in Japan?

        Well, as I said, most (if not all) schools in Japan have basketball teams…but since you’ll only be in Japan for one semester, I wonder if they’ll allow you to join a team for a short period.

    • tokyo5 September 21, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

      @Evan

      >Very good read!

      Thank you!

      >I’am an American student looking too spend a semester in Japan next year,

      High school? College?

      >I know the language

      Can you speak and read Japanese? That’s great! How did you learn?

      > how common are school basketball (バスケットボール) teams in Tokyo, or Japan in general?

      Basketball in pretty popular in Japan. Not as much as baseball and soccer…but pretty popular.

      I’d say that every school, or at least nearly every school, in Japan has both a boys and girls basketball team.

      My youngest daughter, as a matter of fact, was on her school’s basketball team when she was in junior high school.

      >I’m 190 cm tall, will that be a nuisance living in Japan?

      Well, you’ll have to duck your head as you pass through many door-frames. Isn’t it the same for you in America?
      You may find it difficult to find clothes and shoes in your size…but, since you’ll only be here a short time, that’s probably not a concern.

      • Evan September 21, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

        Thank you for the swift reply!
        I learned Japanese through simple Japanese class, can’t read Kanji well, but I know enough.
        I’m in High school, next year i’d be a Junior
        I think they’d let me join for a half-semester; if it’s what I do in America, and it’d be strange not to be on a team or in a club, I think (hope) they’d let me on the team.

        I barley ever have to duck my head, but that sounds about right.

      • tokyo5 September 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

        @Evan

        >I learned Japanese through simple Japanese class

        Are the classes at your high school?
        When I was in high school, the only choices for foreign language study was either French or Spanish. (I chose Spanish class).

        >can’t read Kanji well, but I know enough.

        Feel free to comment in either English…or Japanese.

        >next year i’d be a Junior

        That’s a full year away, isn’t it? The school year is just begun this month in America, right?

        What part of America are you from? What part of Japan will you be going to?
        Are you going to stay in a Japanese family’s home?
        Which month(s) will you be in Japan?

        >I think they’d let me join (the basketball team) for a half-semester

        On one hand, I think they might…because Japanese are very hospitable. But, on the other hand, Japanese follow rules to the letter and there may be rules about changing a team’s roster mid-year.

  81. 9symphony9 September 22, 2012 at 2:46 am #

    it seems everyone helps each other out there more than here. It probably helps in students learning.

    • tokyo5 September 22, 2012 at 8:51 am #

      Yes , that’s true.
      With the exception of tests, students are allowed, even expected, to help each other.

  82. Matthew September 22, 2012 at 9:10 am #

    In the US most of the modern homes and buildings have enough head clearance I don’t have to duck at 200cm, I think it’s most likely 210-220cm w/o measuring. I’ve had some trouble in older houses or on stairs that end in a doorway.

    Since the Japanese school year is broke down diffrently than the US I imagine a US semester in Japan is measured in some other way? Given the long summers off and the other 9 months are split into 2 semesters (At least when I graduated in 1998) there would have to be an arrangment of some sort I imagine correct?

    If you knew where you were going with enough advance maybe you could contact the school administration and request to be put on the Basketball roster when it came into season if you knew you was going to arrive late? Then again they may have rules in place set up for you to join as a transfer in but worth asking.

    It’s funny how you mentioned the collective society because we’ve been working on working with people on a global scale and Japan was one of the countries we’ve looked at. Reason I say it’s funny is because I’ve been wondering how it would be to be immersed in something so diffrent than whats the norm in our society.

    • tokyo5 September 22, 2012 at 10:19 am #

      >In the US… I don’t have to duck at 200cm

      You’re American but you use the metric system?

      And you’re 200 cm (about 6’6″) tall? Very tall!

      >I imagine a US semester in Japan is measured in some other way?

      I can’t remember the U.S. school semester system … but it’s a few weeks into the Japanese second semester now.

      >2 semesters

      Do American schools have only two semesters? There are three in Japan.

      >I graduated in 1998

      1998? My youngest kid was already two years old by then! :)

      >when it came into season

      There are no “seasons” for school clubs in Japan.
      Students join a club or team at the start of the the school year when they’re a first-year student in junior high.
      The teams play all year round.
      Japanese students will stay with the same club for all three years of junior high… and, if they liked it a lot, they’ll join the same club in high school.

      >I’ve been wondering how it would be to be immersed in something so diffrent

      When I first came to Japan, everything here was so different and shocking to me … but I’m used to and comfortable in Japan now.
      If I were to return to America, I’d experience culture shock again, I’m sure. Sometimes watching Hollywood movies, I notice things that make me realize I’m not used to American culture anymore … for example, people wearing shoes indoors and then putting their feet up on a table or a bed!
      Definitely not done in this country (Japan)!

      • Matthew September 23, 2012 at 5:21 am #

        Hmmm, I use metric because we were talking about Japan, and most of the owrld uses it now anyhow, but unfortunatly the US never made the switch. I like Math and Science so it’s not a foriegn system to me anyhow. I find the standard English system we use to be much more familier which is why I like to use the oppurtunity of useing metric when able :) It’s very easy to mentally see the measurment of a foot, inch, yard in my head but not so much a cm, Meter, any so forth so using those measurments helps me learn and remember those measurments.

        I am really tall even by US standards. As a child I always ranked in the 95% whcih is the highest on the scale at the time since 95%+ included everyone over it lol. I was also in the top of the weight, not because I was obese but because build wise I have very broad shoulders so no bean pole here :)

        It’s been awhile since I’ve been in the school system but usually school starts in late Aug/Early Sept and ending in May/June with the semester ending around the first of the year when Christmas (Winder for thos who are offended by Christianity) break ends. It’s the same for my university as well so I might be getting that mixed up into when I was younger. Do Japanese schools have a long break between semesters as well?

      • tokyo5 September 23, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

        >I use metric because…most of the owrld uses it

        Yeah, it is more clear to everyone outside the U.S. if you use metric.

        >I am really tall even by US standards.

        Yes… you must be tall!
        But “the U.S. standard (of height)” doesn’t mean anything anymore … people in most countries, Japan included, are all about the same average height.

        >Do Japanese schools have a long break between semesters as well?

        The school semesters are seperated by summer, winter and spring holidays, respectively.
        But those vacation periods are longer in America than here.

  83. Shawnae Dillard September 23, 2012 at 5:42 am #

    Honestly, I found this quite interesting. I really like Japanese culture and it was interesting to hear a viewpoint from someone living in Japan! :) Most American schools these days differ, though. For example, not all of them have lockers, seperate gym classes and lunchroom, or choices, especially in smaller schools. In my school, we have a ‘multipurpose room’ (common in a lot of schools), where lunch, ceremonies, school dances, and gym class is held. We do have the choice of eating lunch in a classroom; but only if that’s to work on tutoring or meet up with an elective/club. We also need permission. People also have the choice of buying lunches. We don’t take entrance exams, true, but we do take state-wide tests and final exams. Also, in high school, you must take the ACT. You’re encouraged to take it numerous times (the number of times depends on what year you’re in), and it can give you better chances at getting scholarships. The school years usually start in late August/early September and end in late May/early June. Also, basically all schools now do have graduations for every form of school (kindergarten, elementary middle school, high school). American schools also have lots of events, like country/culture day (usually each homeroom is assigned a country and has music playing, facts, and food; people usually go to classroom to classroom freely to look around so that people may learn more) or spirit week (dressing up to different themes per day), but we don’t have events like cultural fests or sports fests! Those seem very fun. Though, we do have field days, which are basically just like sports fests. Not all American schools allow you to wear street clothes though. Recently, a lot of schools have been assigning uniforms or dress codes. I’ve been attending uniformed schools all my life, from kindergarten to middle school. When I began high school last school year, I was thrilled to find out there were no uniforms! However, most schools do have dress codes to keep students from wearing anything inappropriate. Some will enforce them more than others. Also, I found it rather interesting that there are no school buses in Japan. I know that most people walk, but I always wondered if it was an alternate choice. Anyway, great blog post! Very informative. I do have a question: do Japanese schools usually hold school dances or similar events? :)

    • tokyo5 September 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

      >I found this quite interesting.

      Thank-you.

      >I really like Japanese culture

      Which aspects of Japanese culture do you like?

      >Most American schools these days differ…not all of them have lockers, seperate gym classes and lunchroom,or choices

      Really?
      Has America changed a lot since I’ve lived there?

      >… all schools now do have graduations for every form of school (kindergarten, elementary middle school, high school).

      When did American schools begin doing this?
      U.S. schools still don’t have Opening Ceremonies?

      >American schools also have lots of events, like country/culture day

      Sounds interesting! Did you study about Japan?

      >cultural fests or sports fests!

      Do you know about Japanese schools’ Culture Festivals and Sports Days?

      >do Japanese schools usually hold school dances?

      No. Japanese schools don’t have dances or “Proms”.

      • Shawnae Dillard September 25, 2012 at 4:14 am #

        To reply to your questions:
        1.) You’re welcome! :)
        2.) I really like the pop culture, the fashion, the food (lol), learning about the country’s history, and just everything about it. I think that Japan is really cool. I’ve been considering getting a Japanese pen pal.
        3.) I believe that America has changed very much, especially in terms of the way schools are. There’s really not any kind of “normal school” anymore. There are online schools, alternative schools (which usually serve for students that may be going through a lot and still want a normal education; for example, as teen pregnancy is an issue for some teen girls, there are all-girls schools for teen mothers.)
        4.) Honestly, I don’t know; I apologize. But most schools don’t really have opening ceremonies. The principal may talk to the students on the first day, but that’s about it. We also have orientations before the first day of school.
        5.) No, my homeroom did Italy, but one of my friend’s classes did Japan. I heard that they made a few dishes, including tempura, sushi, and onigiri; had music playing, and had facts about Japan in homemade brochures. Unfortunately, the room was crowded so we had to go to another. :/
        6.) Yes, I do. They seem very fun. We don’t really do anything similar to a culture festival but sports days do seem quite similar to field day; though the activities may vary. Also, we just wear outfits we would exercise in. Most contemporary schools don’t have gym uniforms, we just wear T-shirts and sweatpants and what not; though there are exceptions. They usually have a fun barbeque for lunch and, from my own experience, at the end of the day we may just relax or have a water balloon fight. Very fun, but not for my hair, haha. Usually avoid that one.
        7.) And ah, I see. Proms are usually a big deal, nowadays. In fact, the annual prom committee was just established at my school. We also have at least one to two dances a year (excluding prom) but I do know schools that do more (like homecoming/fall formal, Halloween dances, a winter formal, and a spring formal).

      • tokyo5 September 25, 2012 at 6:43 am #

        Thank you for answering my questions in detail.
        Sounds like America has changed in some ways since I lived there … but in other ways it’s still the same.
        School dances, for example, were always popular in American schools.

        Japanese people know from American movies, such as ‘Back To The Future’, that “dance parties” are popular in America.
        But it’s different in Japan … couples dancing isn’t popular with Japanese people — especially teenagers!
        Dancing isn’t done at weddings here either, like it is in America.

        It’s fine with me — I’ve never really cared for dancing.

  84. lily September 25, 2012 at 3:13 am #

    This really helped ! Now i can go to Tokyo without worrying !

    • tokyo5 September 25, 2012 at 6:21 am #

      When are you going to visit Tokyo?

  85. James s October 15, 2012 at 3:43 am #

    The state matters and Florida is known
    For many problems. If you were going to a school in Massachutes it may have been the best in the world. The diversity is so large some states are terrible and some have very good systems. So, you should say Florida’s system or even that particular county was horrible in educational standards. The US excels in some areas like at our world class Universities fo example.

    • tokyo5 October 15, 2012 at 7:52 am #

      I know that students in some U.S. states do better academically than in others … but that wasn’t my point in this post.

      The things I said about American schools, I believe, applies to public schools around the country.

      If you want to include academic performance and universities … it’s true that Boston has two respected Ivy-league colleges — but, I think that schools in Japan — from primary on up — academically outshine those in America. And Japan has a number of respected Ivy-league colleges too … such as Tokyo University and Waseda University.

  86. amanda October 20, 2012 at 2:28 am #

    hi I am a student in Canada and I am doing an assignment on ECE’s and the difference between Canada and Japan in regards to early childhoods is there anything you could tell me about the system there for children of age 5 and under?

    • tokyo5 October 20, 2012 at 9:55 am #

      I’m sure that Japanese and Canadian kindergartens are very different … but I don’t know about Canada, so it would be hard for me to compare.

      Why don’t you use my Contact Form and email me about Canadian kindergartens and I’ll tell you how Japanese ones are different.

  87. Michelle November 12, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    I am not sure to what schools some of your children have been going to but I live in New York and as we’ll as go to school there I’ve had opening ceremonies or something similar to them every year I have been to school and also I have had graduation ceremonies for pre-school, kindergarten, 5th grade, 8th grade and will later on graduate from 12th grade. I am not sure which is more advanced between Japan or U.S but to say the least I’m pretty advanced for my age because unlike other freshmen I am in advanced for I take classes with sophomores in juniors for I am in chemistry and trigonometry. I did not skip a grade only a few classes of mine are different from regular freshmen, and you seem to have a misunderstanding of American schools because you haven’t been to one in some time education has changed a almost a full 360 degrees you say there are swimming classes in Japan there are also swimming classes here as we’ll and as we’ll as the club situation you are allowed to join any club you like wether it is sports or anything else without having to try out.. It also depends on which school you are going to because where I have gone I have always been greatly motivated to excel in school and I do enjoy school very much as we’ll as the strictness there are just some schools that are less lenient for rules while others are not.

    • tokyo5 November 12, 2012 at 11:13 am #

      >I live in New York and as we’ll as go to school there I’ve had opening ceremonies or something similar to them every year I have been to school and…graduation ceremonies

      Really? Do you go to public or private school?
      Because I’ve never heard of that for American public schools.

      >I am not sure which is more advanced between Japan or U.S

      Japanese students do better than American students in almost every subject.

      >I’m pretty advanced for my age

      Well, I guess you’re an exceptional case.

      >you seem to have a misunderstanding of American schools

      I didn’t claim to be an expert.
      This post is my opinion based on my experience.

      >education has changed a almost a full 360 degrees

      Not to nitpick … but I think you mean “180 degrees”.

      >there are also swimming classes

      Not at any school I attended in America …

      >you are allowed to join any club…without having to try out

      Maybe your school is the exception in America. I think after-school teams at most American schools require a tryout to join.

      By the way, are you in the 9th grade?
      That’s a difference between Japanese and American schools too.
      In Japan, you wouldn’t be in high school yet … you’d be in the final year of junior high.

  88. Anonymous December 9, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    Do you have any thoughts on kateigakushu?

    • tokyo5 December 10, 2012 at 10:06 am #

      Home schooling?

      There are some legitimate reasons for it … but, in most cases, I think a child needs to learn more than only academics; peer interaction and the variety of teachers and activities in a school are important.

      What do you think?

  89. Mags January 6, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

    Interesting post!

    I’m 17, female, and attend a public high school in America. I certainly was not “bored” during my two month break at all. Having all Honors/AP classes (AP as in advanced placement, basically honors), I had mandatory homework during in online periodically throughout the summer. My sports team (cross country) as well as the other summer sports met throughout the summer as well. I consider myself a good student (pulling straight A’s with being on a sports team and many other extracurriculars), not to brag haha. :)

    I just finished AP US History (extremely demanding class) with barely an A. It was probably my favorite class, though the hardest. My teacher told me that AP classes are becoming more “skilled based”. For example, we had to answer multiple Document-Based Questions for the class. In a nutshell, you read 8 or so documents pertaining to a time in history, answer a question relating to the documents, and support using information gathered from the documents. And those are a HUGE part of the tests we have. You would think the tests would focus on memorizing facts! Haha.

    Anyways, teaching conceptual, analytical things like that in is becoming more required in high school, which I really like. It comes to A LOT of essays (for AP at least). What kind of essays do Japanese students write for subjects like Literature or History? I’m curious.

    All that I know about Japan is from the video games I play, manga I read, and anime I watch. But I’d really like to know more about the “actual” life. I would like to visit one day but I would need someone constantly tell me if what I’m doing or saying is considered rude haha. How long did it take you to adjust to that kind of stuff? Also did you ever have any awkward misunderstandings? Sorry I like to ask questions. :)

    Another thing, are you familiar with Japanese Drum and Bugle Corps? In America, we have them, and I love them a lot. If so, could you tell me a bit about how they are over there? In America, a corp spends the entire summer break practicing and performing their shows until the Finals which are in Indianapolis. I apologize in advance if you have no idea what they are!

    Wow I wrote quite a lot haha.

    • tokyo5 January 6, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

      > Interesting post!

      Thank you.

      >I’m 17, female, and attend a public high school in America.

      In which state?

      >I certainly was not “bored” during my two month break … Having all Honors/AP classes… homework during… the summer… (and) sports team

      Well, I’d say your case is different than the “average” student in America.
      I was neither a member of an honor class nor an after-school club.
      It’s good that you are. Like kids in Japan, you have homework and sports to keep you busy.

      >What kind of essays do Japanese students write for subjects like Literature or History?

      Certainly depends on the teacher; but my kids have had homework assignments to write about any figure or event in history for “World History” class.

      >All that I know about Japan is from the video games I play, manga I read, and anime I watch.

      I wonder what impression video games, anime and manga give you of Japan.
      Which anime and manga do you like?

      >How long did it take you to adjust to that kind of stuff (cultural differences)?

      How long?
      I’m not sure.
      People don’t normally notice themselves gradually changing over time.

      >did you ever have any awkward misunderstandings?

      When I first came to Japan, I didn’t have any idea about Japanese manners that are considered “common sense” here, but often so different from the natural behavior of Americans.
      There was no internet back then for me to learn about them either.

      But Japanese people are understanding about visitors who don’t know Japanese manners.

      >Sorry I like to ask questions.

      Please feel free to ask anytime. I’ll do my best to answer.

      >are you familiar with Japanese Drum and Bugle Corps?

      I’m not sure.
      In Japanese schools, students can join the “brass band”… and some schools have a Japanese “Taiko” drumming club.

      • Mags January 13, 2013 at 3:17 am #

        >In which state?

        Illinois. The suburbs of Chicago, to be exact.

        >I wonder what impression video games, anime and manga give you of Japan. Which anime and manga do you like?

        My favorites are mostly shojo manga, like Ouran High School Host Club and Fruits Basket. But I’ve watched a lot of Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z when I was little.

        >But Japanese people are understanding about visitors who don’t know Japanese manners.

        That’s reassuring! :)

        >some schools have a Japanese “Taiko” drumming club.

        That’s so awesome!! I’ve always wanted to play a taiko drum. I’m a percussionist myself.

        Since you live in Tokyo (I assume because of your username), I’m sure there’s a whole lot of stuff going on! Plenty of good restaurants, concerts, art, and just pretty scenes. I love stuff like that! :) Could you tell me a bit about “city life” in Tokyo?

        Also, are there many jazz bands in Japan? I know there’s a good number of them in South America and in Europe. Jazz is also taught in schools over here. I’m not sure about anywhere else.

      • tokyo5 January 13, 2013 at 9:38 am #

        > Illinois.

        Must be cold there now!

        >I’ve always wanted to play a taiko drum.

        Do you know about Japanese Taiko?

        I had never heard of that or other Japanese musical instruments before I came to Japan.

        >Could you tell me a bit about “city life” in Tokyo?

        You mean other than what’s already on my blog?
        What type of info are you looking for?
        Tokyo is the best city in the world, I believe.
        The weather is usually nice. It’s the largest, most densly populated metropolis in the world … but it’s safe, clean, and the people are polite.
        The most “Michelin-starred” restaurants in the world.

        Whatever you want to do, see, eat, drink, or buy is probably available here.

        >are there many jazz bands in Japan?

        In Japan? Or Japanese schools?
        In Japan, there are some … but I wouldn’t say “many”.
        Schools here have brass bands … but not normally a “jazz band”

  90. E. Smith January 22, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    School showers are becoming passe in American schools – now many gym classes don’t require showers
    In the US there are many graduation ceremonies, but no entrance ceremonies.

    • tokyo5 January 22, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

      >School showers are becoming passe in American schools

      Really? American schools don’t have gym showers anymore?

      >In the US there are many graduation ceremonies, but no entrance ceremonies.

      Even at pre-schools, elementary schools and junior high schools, like in Japan?

  91. Nathalie Mumaw February 5, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    I tried to read all the replies, because they’re so interesting. But there are so many of them!

    Anyway, I graduated from high school (in Delaware, for what it’s worth) in 2005. I immediately went to college, and immediately upon graduating college came to Japan to teach English.

    I agree that there are a lot of benefits to the way Japanese schools are run. The camaraderie that is cultivated between the students by staying with the same group of peers throughout high school; the connection forged with the school by being active in school activities/cleaning/etc; the seriousness with which students are encouraged to pursue their studies.

    However, I think there are differences (I won’t call them deficiencies) that would make it very hard for my kids to thrive in the high school environment I had. The biggest one, by far, is the lack of self-confidence and ability to think critically. The focus on rote memorization, at least in English class, results in students who can parse a sentence with expert precision, but who can’t formulate a single-sentence answer like, “I went to Europe when I was 10.” All the seminars I’ve attended in my three years here (conducted by foreign and Japanese professors alike) seem to agree on the fact that language-learning-wise, Japan’s public education system is quite poor. I know by my final year of high school, I could hold a lengthy conversation with my French teacher, entirely in French, and had a nigh-perfect accent. That wasn’t just me either, it was fairly common. My mother’s education had her engaging in in-depth conversations in her foreign language before she even got out of junior high school.

    It seems to me that the personal creativity and agency needed to hold a conversation isn’t emphasized in Japanese education, even in their native Japanese (I’ve seen students stay mute for the entirety of a “conference” with a teacher, even with the teacher asking pointed, non-rhetorical questions to them).

    On that note, I find myself often noticing how there are aspects of the extremely “polite” Japanese culture that would massively backfire in the American classroom I attended. Specifically, that habit students have of staying silent. It may just be shyness, or a culture that discourages risking making any kind of mistake. However, if in my high school classes, a teacher asked a student a question, and that student stayed silent, staring face-down at their book, it would have been tantamount to ignoring the teacher. Refusing to answer would have been EXTREMELY rude.

    As such, sometimes I think Japanese society requires students to be polite/respectful to a fault. I have a much much easier time actually getting anywhere with the kids in my technical school, who are far more laid-back, “disrespectful” and so on. Getting them to attempt to talk to me in English isn’t like pulling teeth the way it is in my more academic, ironically-dubbed “super English” high school.

    Those are the aspects of the Japanese school system that have stuck out to me as.. well, different in a not-necessarily-good-way. Then again, it’s a different culture that demands different things from its people, so comparing America and Japan is often like comparing apples and oranges.

    Anyway, sorry for the novel. And thanks for your post! I loved reading it =3

    • tokyo5 February 5, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

      >I tried to read all the replies…But there are so many of them!

      Yes, there are a lot of comments on this post.
      I’m surprised how popular this post is. There aren’t even any photos in it!
      I wrote it a few years ago…I had been explaining to my daughters how their schools are so different from the schools I attended in America—and I decided to write a blog post about it.
      Wasn’t expecting this post to get such a reaction.

      >I graduated from high school…in 2005.

      Oh, you are young! Not too much older than my kids. My oldest graduated from high school last year (March 2012), the second one will graduate next month (March 2013), and the youngest in March 2015.

      >immediately upon graduating college came to Japan to teach English.

      Do you teach English in a Japanese public school?
      High school?

      >the lack of self-confidence and ability to think critically

      Do you think that American kids are more confident than Japanese ones?
      In my opinion, Japanese kids aren’t boastful…but they’re as confident as American kids (if not more so).

      >very hard for my kids to thrive in the high school environment I had

      By “my kids”, are you referring to your own children (as a parent) or your students?

      I disagree. I think that most Japanese students who are able to speak English well enough to attend school in America would find most of the curriculum easy.

      >I could hold a lengthy conversation… entirely in French, and had a nigh-perfect accent. …it was fairly common. My mother’s…in-depth conversations in her foreign language before she even got out of junior high school.

      Your mother and you were both able to become fluent in a foreign language from studying in junior high and high school?
      That’s great! But I don’t think it’s “fairly common” in America.
      I studied Spanish as a foreign language in my school days in Florida…and I learned almost none of the language.
      — in my experience, that’s fairly common.

      > Refusing to answer would have been EXTREMELY rude.

      In a Japanese school, it’s not out of rudeness. Most teenagers just don’t like to be singled out in front of their peers…even if they know the answer.
      But, speaking of school students being “rude” toward their teachers…in my schools in Florida, I’ve seen much worse than ignoring!

      >thanks for your post! I loved reading it

      Thank you.
      Please comment on my blog often.

      >

      • Nathalie Mumaw February 5, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

        Thanks for responding! Yeah, I teach in two different high schools, a more academic one and an all-boys technical school.

        When I say lack of confidence, I’m referring to just that willingness to put themselves out there and venture an answer that might not be correct. I have had students who don’t seem to have this hang up, so I know it’s not universal. But it’s not just my opinion; my JTEs (Japanese teachers of English) feel the same way. They get frustrated too, trying to coax the kids to answer questions.

        And yeah, by “my kids,” I did mean my students. I don’t have any children. And I wasn’t thinking that they would have had a problem with the curriculum as such. More like the kinds of things we were required to do that needed creativity and/or initiative. For example, in my French class, we had a participation score that was a large part of our grade. If we had sat mute (the way many of my high schoolers do), we would have failed.(And by a common level of fluency, I was referring to within my own school) In my English class, we had to write short stories and essays critically analyzing novels and whatnot.

        I imagine the students I have might have problems with that kind of assignment. Plus Japanese students like to do things together, which unfortunately would have translated into “copying” in my high school. Everyone with identical papers would have gotten zeroes. When I say they wouldn’t thrive, I mean the differences like that, and the view on refusing to answer questions, would undermine their actual intelligence. I know that they’re not trying to be rude. It’s just that that wouldn’t have flown in my school. Oh, and don’t get me wrong, I know that rudeness in American schools can far and away exceed anything you’d find in Japan! My school was pretty good though, so that’s my point of comparison.

        But again, I pretty much agree that the Japanese education system is superior in a lot of ways, with the exception of foreign language learning.

      • tokyo5 February 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

        >Thanks for responding!

        I appreciate every comment on my blog. I reply to them all.
        Please continue to comment, by all means.

        >I’m referring to just that willingness to put themselves out there and venture an answer that might not be correct.

        Oh, that’s not “Japanese style”.
        They might offer an answer if they’re certain it’s correct…but, otherwise, usually won’t.

        This type of difference between Japanese and American mentality can also be found in company “brain storming” meetings.

        To most Americans, “brain storming” means that everyone says what they’re thinking. Even if it’s impractical or odd…because, even if that idea isn’t used directly, it might cause someone else to have a better idea.

        Japanese don’t think like that.
        A Japanese employee won’t offer a suggestion unless a superior specifically asks him for one.
        And only ideas that are plausible are mentioned.

        It’s a cultural difference.

        >More like the kinds of things we were required to do that needed creativity and/or initiative.

        Yes, it’s true that Japanese students prefer a “correct” answer rather than a “free” or “opinion” type question.
        And many Japanese prefer a teacher to lecture than ask for responses.

        >in my French class, we had a participation score that was a large part of our grade.

        I guess that’s why you learned French so well.
        My Spanish classes weren’t like that at all.

        >Japanese students like to do things together, which unfortunately would have translated into “copying” in my high school.

        Yes, other than graded tests and exams. Team work / group work / asking classmates for help is encouraged in Japanese schools.

        >Everyone with identical papers would have gotten zeroes.

        Not only in schools…but American culture, in general, is “individualistic”. Japanese culture is more “team oriented”.

        >My school was pretty good though

        You were lucky then!

        >I pretty much agree that the Japanese education system is superior in a lot of ways, with the exception of foreign language learning

        Well, as I said, in my experience, even the foreign language classes are better.
        English language classes in Japanese public schools might have room for improvement…but they’re still better than the Spanish classes I had.

  92. Nathalie Mumaw February 7, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    It’s funny you mention the Japanese foreign language classes being better than your own, even in America! When we discuss the differences in language learning, the comparisons area almost always made to neighboring countries like Korea and China, not really to America. I agree that the general attitude Americans have towards foreign languages is pretty sour. While my school specifically was quite exceptional in that regard, our own system has quite a bit of room for improvement! I also agree with the people who propose a system like in France, where the students are required to take English and can choose a voluntary second foreign language. Of course, in America the mandatory one should be Spanish, then students can choose a second one. Seriously, the whole anti-Spanish sentiment is ridiculous.

  93. tokyo5 February 7, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    >the whole anti-Spanish sentiment is ridiculous.

    Is there an “anti-Spanish sentiment” in America?
    At least in the schools I attended, most students chose to study Spanish rather than French.
    Maybe that was because I lived in the southern U.S.–closer to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, etc.

  94. Anonymous February 12, 2013 at 8:02 am #

    Is it true that Japanese students take a test when they are young (like elementary school ages) and that determines what classes they will take throughout their whole school life and eventually what career they will have? I understand that they have to test into high school, but the tests my friends are talking about is a single test that determines, pretty much your whole future. I don’t believe it, but people are getting into debates with me about it. So I just want to know if they are right or not.

    • tokyo5 February 12, 2013 at 9:02 am #

      >a single test that determines…your whole future.

      There isn’t such a test in Japan.

      There are some private schools, from kindergarten to college, that are “better” than others.
      Children who are accepted into one of the elite private kindergartens have a much better chance of getting accepted into an elite elementary school, and then junior high, high school…and finally a Japanese Ivy-league university.

      So the competition for allotted spaces at these kindergartens in strong.
      The kindergartens interview prospective students and their parents…like a job interview for a little kid.

      These parents are very concerned that their children get accepted into elite private schools and have a successful career in their future.

      My wife and I, like most parents, sent our kids to public schools.
      There is no stressful interview to enter a “regular” kindergarten.

      But even at those high-level private schools, there is no test that determines a child’s future.
      Maybe the people you were talking to have heard about those interviews to enter the elite private schools.

  95. Sam February 14, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    (This) blog(‘s host) is wordpress. The best thing you can do about security is to ensure that you’re using the latest version of the blogging platform at all times. Also, never use administration tools like phpMyAdmin or webmin. It is best to manage the database without using such tools. Create daily, weekly, and monthly backups depending on your blogging style. In the event your blog is hacked, you’ll have a full backup copy of the application and the database.

    • Sam February 14, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

      Ah I just realized the (comment I replied to was) SPAM. I would recommend deleting it.

      • tokyo5 February 14, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

        Thanks. I knew it was spam…I have gotten similar spam comments many times.

        I always delete them.

        On that note, WordPress has an excellent spam filter that catches most spam comments. Very few actually make it through to my blog…but I delete the ones that do.

    • tokyo5 February 14, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

      Your comment is a bit out of place now because I deleted the spam comment that you mistakenly responded to.

      >Create daily, weekly, and monthly backups

      Do you have a blog? Do you make back-ups in case the content gets deleted by a hacker?
      I have been working on this blog regularly for about five years…but I have never made a back-up.

      • Sam February 14, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

        I have managed blogs for other people, though, I don’t write one myself (maybe one day). If you like you can email me and I can assist you with learning how to employ a good backup strategy.

      • tokyo5 February 15, 2013 at 1:44 am #

        This blog is merely a hobby … not a source of income or necessary for my job.
        So I don’t think I need to worry about backing it up.

      • Sam February 14, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

        Backups make all the difference and a must for any website/blog. I’m working with a client right now on recovering their content out of their hacked website they use for business. The cost of them recovering their content and migrating the scrutinized content to another fresh install of the new software is costing them about $2500. Whom ever built their website didn’t inform them about backups or keeping their website software up-to-date. If they had backups then it would be trivial to simply restore their website to a fresh copy from one of the backups.

      • tokyo5 February 15, 2013 at 1:47 am #

        That must be a nightmare for your client.

        (We’re getting a bit off topic of this post! )

  96. Sam February 15, 2013 at 4:42 am #

    Most of my websites aren’t for income but I keep a backup of them. It’s a shame to let well written content go to waste if, say, someone somehow gets access to your blog and decides to delete every post you’ve ever written. Your call. You change your mind just google “how to back up wordpress blog”.

    • tokyo5 February 15, 2013 at 7:22 am #

      Alright, thanks. I’ll “google” it … and if it can be done easily and at no cost, I’ll make the back-up.

  97. Finnkin February 26, 2013 at 5:03 am #

    Interesting Post.
    I live in Germany and attend public school, so it’s quite interesting for me to read something about other school systems and the differences between them. I am especially interested in the social aspect of Japanese school, the clubs etc. It’s not something very common here at Germany schools or at least not at mine. We have some clubs, but there are not many people attending them. You really can’t compare them to the club activities in Japanese oder American schools. Personally, I don’t think that the school system in Germany is a bad one, but I am not entirely satisfied with it. Our grades consists of an oral grade and a written grade (I hope you understand what I mean). In the “senior classes” of my school both are equally important, that means that you can have very good results in the written exams, but if you are a shy person and don’t like to talk much (bad oral grade), you get a worse mark. I really dislike this concept and would like to know if this is similiar in the Japanese or American school system.

    • tokyo5 February 26, 2013 at 7:38 am #

      Most students in Germany don’t join a school team or club?

      As far as verbal and written testing in Japanese schools … in foreign language (English) classes, speaking skills are evaluated, as well as listening, reading and writing.
      English classes in Japanese public schools don’t focus nearly as much on speaking and listening as they do with reading and writing. Unfortunately.

      If you mean, instead, that having students speak up in all classes, not only language ones, is important to German teachers … then, no, it’s not like that at all in Japan.

      Japanese students only listen to the teachers … and answer a question when directly called on.

      • Finnkin February 26, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

        No, most students don’t join a school team or club. Most of them are glad when they can go home after school. I meant the second thing you explained, that students speak up in all classes. You have to be “active” during class and not just listen to the teacher and answer questions when he asks you directly. I absolutely hate this. Maybe I would fit better into a Japanese school… anyway, thanks for the fast answer.

      • tokyo5 February 27, 2013 at 1:25 am #

        Then, a school in Germany would be difficult for a Japanese student too.

        They wouldn’t be used to such an “interactive” style of teaching.

        Do students in Germany get “held back” a year for poor performance, like in America?
        Would they be held back if they didn’t speak enough in class?

  98. Finnkin February 27, 2013 at 6:44 am #

    Yes, students can be held back a year if their grades are not good enough. Well, normally you wouldn’t be held back just because you didn’t speak enough in class. Once again, the results in the written exams also matter. But if you’re not good at both, then you have a problem ;)

    • tokyo5 February 27, 2013 at 7:44 am #

      Well, actually, the purpose of school is to teach children everything they need to fit into society as an adult.

      If clearly stating your opinion on a matter is a part of German culture, then learning to do that in school will benefit you.

      Japanese culture is different.
      And, therefore, Japanese schools are different too.

  99. vintage costume jewellery February 27, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    Do you have a spam issue on this blog? …(comment edited. -T5)

    • tokyo5 February 27, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

      >Do you have a spam issue on this blog?

      How ironic that you would say that, Mr. “vintage costume jewellery”!

      (You’ll notice that I removed the URL from your comment.)

  100. kendall March 16, 2013 at 7:16 am #

    I am 15 and in 9th grade of high school. I have never been to school in japan so I can’t rightfully decide which school system is better. Also each person has their own opinion on what they think is better in the way of schooling.But I want to set a few things straight about American schooling.

    First of all I would like to say that schooling is different all around the world. Whether teachers have a bit of freedom of how they teach or are following a strict set out curriculum. Also some countries learn different things at different times. We had a foreign exchange student from Germany in my Biology class. That was 10th grade science there and 9th grade here.So she went down a grade and if I went there I would be going up a grade. As where she learned chemistry last year I will be learning it next year.

    It is incorrect to say that all of america is behind when each state is different. I live in New Jersey and when my friend moved to Georgia she went to a higher grade.

    Over the years we change the curriculum. For example, I learned multiplication a year before my parents wold have. But we have also slacked off in other ways. Where my parents had script drilled into their brains, I got by with only remembering half of it. To this day if you asked my class to write the whole alphabet in both lowercase and capital in cursive only about tho thirds of my class could do it.

    As for not being held back, I think that is not smart. I personally think every country should apply this. We could better our children by making sure everyone understands each concept and that they are with other children of their capacity. With classes tailored to each students ability they don’t spend to much time going over things they already know and can get on to new subjects or could go over things more if they don’t understand it. This way each child learns at the speed they need.

    If the child/parent does not wish for them to be held back they can attend summer school where they take the class that they failed again.

    In my school we have higher classes and lower classes. For example of how it works, average 9th grade math in New Jersey is Algebra 1 but math may come more naturally to you so you learn it quicker, resulting in you going into a higher level class. So we have Algebra 1, then there is Geometry, then Algebra 2, then pre calc, then calculus. (Calculus is usually a 12 grade class)

    And regarding after school clubs, sports, and student participation. In my school we don’t make clubs and sports mandatory but we encourage them as much as we can. Each sport has an end of the year banquet (party where awards and such are handed out, basically a lot of fun). The students participating in the sports usually become great friends and hangout with each other outside of school and sports. The student body itself decides what clubs we have. If there is a new interest for a club we bring it up to the principal so we can get as many students to participate in a club. Also we have pep rallys which everyone participates in.

    Sorry I was rambling

    We have both computer class and club. One comment said that all of the classrooms had computers.While that is true it is a single computer for the use of only the teacher. Aside from the computer class and club our library also has computers. This is in case a class needs to do research we could use computers as well as books.Some classes have a smart board, and all classes have a tv.

    In my high school we can choose to take either Spanish, Italian (which i am taking) French, and Japanese. Other schools might have other options though.
    one question, I have always wondered what other schools offer language wise. What do average Japanese schools offer?

    • tokyo5 March 16, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

      >I am 15 and in 9th grade of high school.

      Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting!

      >if you asked my class to write the whole alphabet in both lowercase and capital in cursive only about tho thirds of my class could do it.

      Can’t you write the alphabet in “cursive” writing?
      How do you sign your name?

      >I personally think every country should apply this (holding students back a year).

      The fact that Japan doesn’t do that until high school (it is done in high school here) must be shocking to Americans…but most Japanese students do well in school without the threat of “flunking”.
      So it works.

      >We could better our children by making sure everyone understands each concept

      But…does holding students back make that happen?
      Does every American student understand each concept taught?

      >In my high school we can choose to take either Spanish, Italian (which i am taking) French, and Japanese.

      Do students in your school study Japanese?
      When I lived in America, I had never met anyone who studied an “Asian” language!

      Please tell the students in your school who study Japanese about my blog, if you can! I’d be interested in having them leave a comment on here too (and, of course, I hope that you’ll continue to comment here as well).

      >What (language classes) do average Japanese schools offer?

      As for Japanese public schools, 国語 (Japanese (“mother tongue”)) and 英語 (English) are required classes.
      There are no other choices for language study in public grade schools in Japan.

  101. Nycole Nussbaum March 16, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

    Hi there! I noticed you said your children began Japanese public school in kindergaten. Did they know some japanese before they began? Were they ever teased for being different? My husband and I are planning on teaching English in Japan in a few years just before my daughter begins school. I would like her to go to a Japanese school. We are immersing her in the language right now as much as we can, she is almost a year. Hopefully she will learn some and be able to pick it up very quickly once we arrive.

    • tokyo5 March 16, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

      My kids were born and raised in Tokyo. And their mother is Japanese.
      So, naturally, they have always been fluent in the Japanese language.

      How are you teaching your daughter Japanese?

      Do you and / or your husband speak Japanese?

      When will you come to Japan? For how long?

      If your daughter is only one year old, she’s too young for kindergarten.
      Nursery schools accept babies that young though.

      She would be fine, I’m sure.
      But, you might have difficulty understanding when the teachers talk to you or give you paperwork to complete.

      As for bullying, my daughters never had a problem.
      Kids around the world point out differences they notice in other people.
      It’s natural.
      A parent must teach their children to not be overly-sensitive.

  102. kristenaRG March 26, 2013 at 7:27 am #

    what are the times that students in japan go to school?

    • tokyo5 March 26, 2013 at 10:29 am #

      Generally speaking, school hours for Japanese students are from 8:00 to about 3:00 … but junior high and high school students often stay later for club / team practice.

      What country are you from?
      What are the school hours there?

  103. ksb1978 April 1, 2013 at 4:32 am #

    Wow. I have to say that you are very miss-informed about Schools in the United States. Schools in each state are vastly different from each other, so to assume that the rest of the country’s system is the same as it is in Florida was your first mistake of many. I live in Chicago and I do not assume to know what schools are like in California nor Florida, but I can tell you in Chicago alone there are different school systems. There are Chicago Public Schools, a variety of Charter schools(including elementary and high schools), there are private and Catholic schools. Each system runs on its own set of rules and regulations.

    My son is currently a high school sophomore[11th grade]. He attends Noble street College prep which is a collection of Noble high school and elementary schools across the city. They all have to wear a uniform which is mandatory for all grade levels. in Chicago public schools only the kindergarten to eighth grade levels have to wear uniforms. For most Chicago public high schools uniforms are not worn.

    Summer break for my son’s school starts at the end of June and ends in mid August. They also have summer homework.

    I can’t speak for schools in Florida, but I grew up in Chicago Public Schools and here have graduation ceremonies for kindergarten, eighth grade, and high school.

    Chicago public schools have longer school days and shorter summer breaks. Some Chicago public schools go year round, giving the kids breaks throughout the year.

    Right now, however, Chicago public schools is going through a crisis with school closings and such. Its a complicated system which would take me all day to type about LOL!

    I just wanted to point out that you made some assumptions about American schools based on the limited time you spent in Florida. Going forward, it would be better to do thorough research about America’s various school systems before doing a side by side comparison and posting it on the web. That’s all I ask.

    • tokyo5 April 1, 2013 at 8:27 am #

      >you are very miss-informed about Schools in the United States.

      I wouldn’t say that I’m “misinformed” about the entire U.S. school system, since I’ve never officially been “informed” about it at all.

      I didn’t claim to be.

      As I clearly stated above, this post is about my personal experiences and opinions… so, therefore, it can’t actually be “wrong”.

      >Schools in each state are vastly different

      I’m not so convinced.
      Certainly schools across America will have minor differences… but my intention in writing this post was to show a few cultural differences between the American and Japanese school systems based on what I’ve seen going through the U.S. education system and raising kids who went through the Japanese one.

      >to assume that the rest of the country’s system is the same as it is in Florida was your first mistake of many.

      Generally speaking (and possibly even broadly speaking), I still say that I’m sure the schools in Chicago are a lot more similar to the ones in Florida than they are to those here in Japan!

      >it would be better to do thorough research about America’s various school systems before doing a side by side comparison and posting it on the web.

      I also dislike that there is some misinformation on the internet … but my post here isn’t like that – – this is my opinion.

      This blog isn’t my job; it’s only a hobby. So, I don’t feel like researching every (or any) individual school district across America in order to write a comprehensive essay about every single difference and similarity!

      I appreciate your comment. It was interesting to read about Chicago’s schools.

  104. Nycole Nussbaum April 5, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    Thanks, I did read that your children were born and raised just after I commented so I expected that response lol! So we are actually finishing up our BA degrees and hope to be in Japan in the next few years. She is almost a year now so we hope to be there the year before she begins school so that we can get her used to Japan first and hopefully build her vocabulary. I know they will teach her to read and write in school so I’m not too worried. My husband is pretty fluent in Japanese and even he is continuing to improve it with classes and such. I on the other had have a limited vocabulary just the basics. Hi, how are you etc… I am going to begin taking Japanese courses at the university next year. Right now we are just playing things like baby einsteins language nursery which introduces babies to the different sounds different languages make that we don’t have in English. It is supposed to make it easier for them to learn a second language if they so wish or need to. My husband also speaks to her a bit in Japanese. My husband has an aunt in Japan she basically did what you did and they have a couple of kids. She has informed us of some of our options as well and we are very optomisitc about everything.

    • tokyo5 April 5, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

      Your initial comment and my reply are here.

      How did your husband become fluent in Japanese? Has he lived here before?
      What part of Japan do you plan to live in? Tokyo?
      Do you already have a job lined up?

  105. Nycole Nussbaum April 6, 2013 at 8:45 am #

    He became pretty fluent between self study, college classes, communicating with Japanese exchange students there were many where he went to high school. He Visited Yokohama and surrounding area where his aunt lives. We would actually prefer living and working on the countryside as we are used to a slow paced life anyway and that would just fit us better. No job lined up yet but we will be applying when time get closer. Is there an ideal time of year to begin looking and applying? His aunt has a few connections as well so we will see what we come up with. We’ve been looking a bit online and I feel so long as we are qualified we should be able to find a job pretty easily. Only worry is that we want to work with the same company or area at least for obvious reasons. We shall see though.

    • tokyo5 April 6, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

      > Is there an ideal time of year to begin looking and applying?

      Are you looking to teach English?
      I believe that 英会話 (English conversation) schools hire year-round.
      But the school year and business fiscal year begins in April (this month) in Japan … so many new school teachers, as well as business people, start a new job in April.

      Schools and businesses usually take applications for upcoming positions in December or January.

  106. King of Trouble May 10, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    Hello Tokyo5
    I’ve read your comments many have been entertaining and it is nice to hear someone say nice things about the Japanese education system. I am not a complete fan of the system myself because I think there is a tendency to syphon so called bad students off. I also have an issue with returnee kids who end up leaving school because the system is hard on them.
    I have taught 13 years in the system from Yochien to daigako ensei and there are a lot of amazing things about the system. I still feel it is a mix bag but so are most schools everywhere.

    To Nycole if you are looking for work still try Intersqaure, IES, ECC these are some of the bigger contract organizations that might even have branches out there. They might even help you into the High Schools or Junior H.S.
    However if your Husband speaks fluent Japanese he might just try getting a regular non-teaching job there. Omoron, Hankyu, Rakuten actually do hire the occasional foreigner.
    If he knows finance then the sky is the limit and he could have a very nice time out there.

    • tokyo5 May 10, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

      Thanks for commenting!

      Did you teach in Japanese schools from kindergarten to college for thirteen years?

      What years were you in Japan?
      What part of Japan?
      What country are you from?

  107. Willy t May 26, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

    This post is very good but in my opinion I think Americans charter school systems are better then Japan’s. I’m currently A senior in highschool in Pennsylvania. My school is a public charter. The work is not hard but it’s not easy either. Each state has their own education guidelines mines is weird you have to take a test for each subject you complete its somewhat similar to Japan’s final exams. for the exceptions that If you don’t pass you have to retake the subject course in a second level you can retake the test twice then you have the option to opt out and do a project or test corrections

    For example you have course Algebra 1 at the end of the school years in May you take a test to see if you have mastery in the subject if you don’t pass you’ll take the second course Algebra 1B

    I don’t know if Japan has this but in my school I had to take two math classes and two reading classes up to 11th grade. In my second reading class we had to read books like actually read a book tell the teacher the name of the book they’d read it too then interview you on the book to make sure you read it. You couldn’t even look at a poster when you were oppose to be reading. school starts at 7:50am on the spot if your late to first period they take 3 points off your grade school ends at 2:45 on Wednesdays at 1:25 other times 10:30 and 11:45

    In America charter there are entrance exams exams and entrance ceremonies I know in Pennsylvania there called orientation you have orientation for each grade

    In America charter school is family a huge difference then from Japan. I go to school and one of my teachers plays mom. Teacher’s actually care deeply for their students that’s why we don’t all stand and greet them when they come in. It’s like “Hey Mom, How’s it going” I know weird we do greet our teachers with those titles. Teacher’s give out money buy students lunch. another difference we go out to eat For lunch around town then come back to school when lunch is over.

    My school is strict on uniform. Uniform is everything. My school takes us out on trips out of the state And country. Bahamas, Paris, Canada and Mexico. At my school we have after school activities no one really does them we don’t have try outs teachers have to beg students to participate just so the team’s can play. After school most kids have test preps classes, go shopping, play video games or go home. My school is in the busy city.

    My school generally never has school which is not a problem. For anyone everybody loves the break my school is all year around. Seniors only have 4 classes a day then go to work it’s called Co-op the principal gets us jobs at stores in the city or in the school. Other seniors go home. I go home. You have the choice to stay at school longer and do electives. I have enough credits. Most importantly our grade system is hard

    95 + A
    95 – 90 B
    90 – 85 C
    85 – 75 D

    It’s hard to get A`s you must study. Teachers won’t fAil students if they go to tutoring. American education system was easy it’s hard now. Kids actually learn now A days lol at least in Pennsylvania. Remember America is a boiling pot things are always changing. We have charter schools which are advanced public schools with their own thing going on. I go to charter. Our parents donate to our school to make sure it’s hard and let our teachers beat us if we give them lip which is really funny. America is amazing we rank 1 resources and motivation. You just have To have the students who want to learn and teachers who care and wanna teach.

    Btw. Charter school teachers never strike even if they get low pay they still continue to work now public I no nothing about the over crowded classes there’s only 11 people in my class at a time.

    • tokyo5 May 26, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

      I don’t know what a “charter school” is.
      It sounds quite different from schools in Japan… or even the schools I attended as a kid in America.

      Do you go to restaurants for lunch?
      Do you go on overseas field trips?
      Do you call your teacher “mom” ?
      Do your classes only have eleven students?

      So different!

      • Willy t May 30, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

        Charter schools are independent public schools with their on agenda and way of teaching. They probably weren’t any around when you were going to school in America but because they just started to expand in maybe 2006.

        I do go to restaurants for lunch. I often go to food courts to by a near by mall. We do go overseas on trips recently we went to Venezuela to see Angel falls which is opposed to be the world’s largest waterfall. I do call my English teacher mom only because she babies me and all ways make sure I’m doing my work and paying attention. My classes range to 11 students to 18 so it’s vary spacious rarely crowded

      • tokyo5 May 30, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

        >Charter schools are independent public schools with their on agenda and way of teaching.

        If they’re “independent”, wouldn’t that make them “private” schools?

        >They probably weren’t any around when you were going to school in America

        If there were, I hadn’t heard about them before now.

        >I do go to restaurants for lunch.

        Everyday? That must add up quickly.
        Doesn’t your school offer a “school lunch”?

        >I often go to food courts (at) a nearby mall.

        Fast-food?

        >We do go overseas on trips

        That’s great! Does your school ever visit Japan?

        But that sounds like a private school too?
        At the school I attended as a kid in Florida, we only took a school trip to NASA (on the other coast of the same state).

        My children, also, have taken many school trips…but never outside of Japan.

        >My classes range to 11 students to 18

        Small classes! How many students are in your school total?

        A classroom in a school in Tokyo typically has 35 – 40 students.
        (Rural parts of Japan may have classes with less students…I’m not sure).

  108. Adrian June 3, 2013 at 5:43 am #

    This is my point of view, so correct me if I stand wrong.

    Of course in many (there are always exceptions) circumstances, I think that the quality of education in America will be higher than that in Japan if and only if (biconditional) one takes the toughest and most rigorous courses that the school has to offer.

    In Junior High, you only have what is called Pre-AP (Pre-Advanced Placement) which gets you prepared for the AP (Advanced Placement) equivalent in High School and even though it’s Junior High, it’s a vast amount of information to learn and comprehend compared to the entry level classes offered and the education that the 15+ Pre-AP classes I took in a vast amount of subjects really got me thinking as a younger student and prepared me for the High School Pre-AP which is leaps and bounds harder than Junior High Pre-AP.

    Do correct me, but I don’t think Japanese High Schools offer an equivalent to AP classes in America which is a class that is taught in a college mindset and manner. I am a student in highschool right now and I can tell you right now that they joke around when they say “It’s a college level class” because these classes are really something not to fool around with. To elaborate, at the end of the year in my AP World History class, we all picked the T-Shirt that had “Stearn’s AP World History – No Pictures” with a picture of a upperclassman showing an underclassman the textbook with a sad face because there was an evident tacit agreement that the textbook was hell with its small text covering large pages without any pictures to make the arduous 36 chapters much more straining. Personally, I went through that class myself so I know how it is. This is just one example of an AP class out of about 13 I plan to complete by the time I graduate High School.

    Putting that all aside, I can agree with school life in Japan is better because sometimes the atmosphere in at least my High School can get very cold and competitive when it comes to class rank and G.P.A and usually friends are there just for socializing because you’re on your own most of the time with academics and such.

    As a side note, this is from a chain of schools that are in the top %1 of all public High Schools in the United States, so the situation with your kids might’ve not been the same.

    • tokyo5 June 3, 2013 at 11:54 am #

      That was interesting. Thank you.

      You must be very smart to take such difficult, high-level school courses in the top 1% of American schools!

      My blog post is more of a general comparison of the public school systems in America and Japan…not specific courses.

      Not only academics (which I believe are better in Japan than America, generally), but all other aspects of school life too — safety, school social life, student relations, teacher – student relations, etc.

  109. phoenolf July 18, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

    this is very important info, I am making a comic and the setting is in japan and I have been researching japanese schools heavily (from private to public, the type that are close to homes and far away). you sir have saved me hours and hours of research. (if possible, I would like to use your blog as a base of my research for japanese culture)

    • tokyo5 July 18, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

      Are you writing a comic about Japan?

      Can I see it?

      I’m glad my blog is helpful to you.

      • phoenolf July 19, 2013 at 12:23 am #

        not really about japan but a fictional (made-up) place in japan and since I have never been to japan, I have are internet resources about japan and I have loads of questions about japan (so I apologize in advance if I become too annoying)

        p.s. the story is still in development but will be done in 2-3 years -w-

      • tokyo5 July 19, 2013 at 1:29 am #

        Must be difficult to write a story set in a culture so different from your own!

        If you have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer them.

        Are you American?
        How old are you?
        Are you writing a comic as a hobby?
        How did you become interested in Japan?

        I’m just curious.

      • phoenolf July 19, 2013 at 4:26 am #

        (then imagine creating a culture O_O)

        #1 no, I am not an american, I am from the middle east

        #2 21 years old (born in (or at) january 25

        #3 depending on how I understood the question, I am not only writing a comic but I will draw it too (easier said then done >_<), plus its a hobby that I love greatly (drawing comics that is) but I had to tune it down so that I can reunderstand the basics of making one and drawing. -w-

        #4 by watching japanese animation and reading japanese comics, also their culture and history seem to have this thing that I can't explain but somehow makes me fascinated .

        I hope I have satisfied your curiosity -w-

      • tokyo5 July 19, 2013 at 7:20 am #

        Oh, the middle east. That’s interesting! Which country?
        I don’t know much about your part of the world … you should write about daily life in your culture! It would be interesting.

        Which Japanese comics do you read?

      • phoenolf July 20, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

        in KSA, you mean write about my culture in blog form or in the comic?

        I read comics like bleach, naruto, one piece and a lot more

      • tokyo5 July 20, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

        What’s KSA?

        Blog or comic… whichever.

        Do you read those Japanese comics in English?
        Are Japanese comics very popular in your country?

      • phoenolf July 21, 2013 at 4:54 am #

        KSA: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

        I think I’ll try to do a blog about it

        I have some in english and some in japanese (I am also learning how to read and write in japanese since the comic will have lots of japanese context in it)

        yes, it is but not in a public form like how its seen in japan

      • tokyo5 July 21, 2013 at 9:00 am #

        Saudi Arabia … I’d like to read about regular daily life there.
        Must be quite different from Japan or America.

        Can you read and write Japanese?

        Sorry … what is “public form” ?

      • phoenolf July 21, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

        it is very different in a way that I can’t explain >__<)

      • tokyo5 July 22, 2013 at 1:33 am #

        Well … if you tried, I’m sure it’d be interesting.

      • phoenolf July 22, 2013 at 3:37 am #

        yeah true -w-

      • phoenolf July 22, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

        question: I recall reading something about a “culture festival” that happens in japanese schools and a “sports day” but when I researched them online, it didn’t provide enough information about them. so can you tell me something about the culture festival and the sports day?

      • tokyo5 July 23, 2013 at 12:19 am #

        Yes, Japanese schools have events such as Sports Day and a Culture Festival.

        It would take a lot to thoroughly explain them.
        Besides that, they’re different in kindergarten, elementary school, junior high, and high school.

        Do you have a specific question about them?

      • phoenolf July 23, 2013 at 3:59 am #

        ok, so I’ll start with the culture festival, can you give me a general explanation about it? (I want a parent’s view of the festival -w-)

      • tokyo5 July 23, 2013 at 7:36 am #

        Alright … I’ll tell you a bit about how my daughters’ 文化祭 (Culture Festivals) when they were in junior high and high school.

        In JHS, there were class song competitions, comedy skits by teachers and students, Japanese taiko drum shows, a slideshow of pictures from the school year up to then, etc

        In HS, the also had comedy skits, as well as a haunted house, food for sale that students cooked, students concert, etc

        Does that help?

      • phoenolf July 23, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

        to a very big degree, this wasn’t mentioned in any of the sites I looked up. are the students allowed to choose any place in the school for their theme? (like having a haunted house in their classroom, having a concert in the gymnasium, etc)

        p.s. just to make sure, junior high is from 7th grade – 9th grade and high school is from 10th grade – 12th grade, correct?

      • tokyo5 July 23, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

        Yes, those grades are correct.

        JHS Culture Festival is held in the 体育会 (gymnasium) ; in high school, it’s held all around the school.
        High school kids have more responsibility in organizing / running it themselves.

      • phoenolf July 24, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

        so what about the sports day, do students from 10 – 12 grade compete against each other?

      • tokyo5 July 25, 2013 at 7:46 am #

        No, the teams aren’t divided into grades … but by class number usually.

        So there will be somewhere around five or six teams … each team will have roughly an equal number of students from each grade.

        In junior high and high school, the games are all only-boys competing or only-girls.

        Some games include the parents and/or teachers … such as parents vs teachers tug-of-war.

      • phoenolf July 26, 2013 at 8:21 am #

        so both genders don’t compete against each other? parents and teachers participate?!!!! (first time I knew OwO)
        does this happen even in high school?

      • tokyo5 July 26, 2013 at 8:27 am #

        >so both genders don’t compete against each other?

        That’s correct.

        >first time I knew

        I’m glad you can learn something from my blog. :)

        >does this happen even in high school?

        No, only until junior high.

        Also, up to junior high, sports day is normally held on a Saturday…so that both parents (and grandparents) can attend.
        High school ones are often held on a weekday…

  110. Lim August 2, 2013 at 7:10 am #

    Thank you for taking the time to write about Japan’s schools. As a mother of, now grown kids, I have a question. Who takes care of the school age children when they get home from school. In general, do mothers work? Is there an after school program that keeps children in school until their parents can be home to take care of them, or are they left alone as they do here in the U.S. where they are alone until parents come home from work? I appreciate your response.

    • tokyo5 August 2, 2013 at 7:58 am #

      Thanks for commenting!
      Please feel free to comment more … visitor feedback is what makes blogging enjoyable!

      You asked a good question.

      In a lot of families in Japan these days, both parents work … but I’d say that, even these days, MOST mothers in Japan don’t work.

      Traditionally in Japan, families are extended with a pair of grandparents living not far … and they help with the kids even if the mother doesn’t work, but especially if she does.

      But that’s becoming less and less common in modern Japan, especially in big cities.
      Nowadays, there are a greater number of nuclear families (just parents and kids).

      In Japan there are two types of nursery school or pre-school for little kids:
      – 幼稚園 (yochien) is for kids whose mothers DON’T work. These kids go to school about 8:00 and are picked up by mother in the early afternoon.
      Only weekdays.
      They can only start after they’re toilet-trained.

      – 保育園 (hoikuen) is for kids of single mothers (or fathers) and two working parents.
      These kids can be dropped off earlier and picked up later, if need be.
      Saturdays are OK too.
      Diapers OK.
      Tuition is lower.

      And in elementary school, there is an after-school / Saturday program for kids with both parents at work.

      From junior high on, they’re old enough to be home alone, if need be. (Besides, in junior high and high school, Japanese kids stay after school for their club, most days).

      Any more questions, feel free.

  111. Grace August 21, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

    Hi, very interesting and informative post! I have a few questions if you don’t mind answering them. In an anime I was watching, the teacher formally met every student’s parent at each student’s house. This would be kind of strange in the u.s. Do they actually do that? Also, I’ve been told that Japanese teachers are allowed to give students rides home whereas in the u.s. it is against the law. Is this true? I suppose the main question I’m asking is what are the relationships between students and teachers and the parents and teachers like in Japan? It seems like the teachers are much more respected there.

    • tokyo5 August 21, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

      >very interesting and informative post!

      Thank you.

      >an anime I was watching

      Which one is that?

      >the teacher formally met every student’s parent at each student’s house.
      Do they actually do that?

      Yes. Teachers visit the homes of new students from kindergarten to junior high.

      >I’ve been told that Japanese teachers are allowed to give students rides home

      Where did you hear that?
      Japanese teachers can’t give students a ride in their private car.
      What if they got into an accident?

      >what are the relationships between students and teachers and the parents and teachers like in Japan?

      I’d say that mostly Japanese classrooms have a “family” atmoshere.
      Unruly students are never sent to the principal. Discipline is the teacher’s responsibility.
      They will scold the student similarly to how a parent does to a child.

      Parents and teachers communicate with each other.

      Does that answer your questions?

      • Grace August 22, 2013 at 5:59 am #

        Yes, thank you very much! The anime was Tamako Market.

      • tokyo5 August 22, 2013 at 8:22 am #

        No problem.
        Is that anime popular in America now?

  112. Mango September 18, 2013 at 4:17 am #

    それは、日本の他の学生のために非常に困難である必要があります

    • tokyo5 September 18, 2013 at 6:54 am #

      >(“It must be tough for students in Japan”)

      Commenting in Japanese is OK … but most visitors to my blog can’t read it, so you should include an English translation, if you can.

      Anyways … students here are busy but most enjoy their school days, I think.

  113. Addison September 23, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    Ive been reading a lot of the posts but I skipped a lot of them cause their are so many. First of all I would like to say this will be a long post and i’m sorry that it will be long :o
    ______________________________________________________________________
    I’m 19 years old, I live in America (state: Utah)
    I’m LDS or better known as Mormon
    I am male, I am very curious about things.
    I don’t have that great of a memory
    I don’t care about punctuation or any of that stuff while typing……will put a lot of …cause to me it sounds like i’m pausing…..I think I have other things I do but I can’t think of them right now.
    I like to go into massive detail cause I hate people not understanding my point of view because of a misunderstanding that they assume of something I said. (pretty much anything you say could have different meanings and different levels of impact to different people)
    I am not very good at communication skills as I have been very lonesome my whole life. if I understand the word correctly and if I spell it right I believe a word to describe me is hikkimori or something to that effect…:O don’t get out much if at all and play computer and such. anyways enough me I wanted to talk about the post and what I think and what my opinions are…
    ______________________________________________________________________
    alright elementary….every year in elementary you always had computer lab where you

    learned to type and you had gym and library to. I don’t exactly remember the order in

    what happenend in a typical day in elementary but I remember that you got three

    recess’s (you go out and play for a little bit then the bell rings and you go back

    inside…..maybe it was two recess’s……I don’t remember it was two or three) anyways in

    most of the grades it would vary of what you did. you always had math and English then

    there might be history or art or science or gym or computer lab or the library it varied

    day to day but you always had one teacher and no lockers just your book-bag that you

    hung up in the classroom. That is what I remember from elementary. It has changed a

    lot from what I remember though but I think its safe to say that in general that’s what at

    least in my school district that’s what happens in elementary. now you do get graded

    but its not with letters you get 1,2,3,4 4 being the best you can get. now as far as I

    know the grades don’t matter what so ever. they are just something you can see that will

    help the parent understand what their child needs help in. also another thing they had

    while I was in elementary was like a test for books…you could a get a book from a

    library read it and then on a computer take a test about it to score points for a program

    that I don’t know the name of. If I remember correctly they would give you a paper at

    the end of the year to see how you are doing with reading…my memory is very fuzzy on

    it so I can’t really tell ya much more. also as a type of graduation every single year

    each class would put on a show I guess if you wanted to call it that. basically all the

    parents would come to watch their kids do stuff…to get an idea I remember that every

    year I always had to sing and speak in the microphone about something. I don’t think

    their were many rules about electronics because nobody ever had them but if they did I

    think they had to keep it in their book-bag and turn it off…unless they had a reason that

    it had to be turned on.
    ______________________________________________________________________
    I don’t know if you know what a school district but for understandings sake I will try to
    explain :) (i’ll probably try to explain a lot of things you may or may not know to the best of my ability) now school districts I know next to nothing about them except that in Utah there are multiple districts that group together schools elementary jr high and high school and I guess oversee them. I think they make the financial decisions but i’m not sure…however I do know that other districts are each different in some small way. btw for me 1-6th was elementary and 7-8th was jr high 9-12 was high school but 9th grade was in the jr high building.
    ______________________________________________________________________
    Now jr. high…..boy did I hate it. You got 7 periods and lockers and 1st lunch and second

    lunch. to explain 1st lunch and second lunch….depending on the class’s hall you were

    in at a specific period you would go to either 1st lunch or second lunch. I hope that

    made sense anyways for registration it would be mandatory that you took math English

    science history and gym. the other classes you got to choose it didn’t matter what

    classes you chose cause in 7th and 8th grade they really don’t care if you fail…meaning

    if you fail and you go on to the next grade anyways it won’t go on your transcripts…I

    think that’s what they called it but I think in simpler terms you would say all the classes

    you take in 7th and 8th grade don’t count as credits towards your graduation. 9th grade

    was in the jr high building but its considered high school so you get credits. credits i’ll

    explain later. Now the courses you were able to choose from pretty much depended on

    the teachers that worked their. if they could teach it and teach it according to the rules I

    guess you could say then it was a course…or class you could take. so for my jr. high

    their were some classes that weren’t offered cause they didn’t have the teachers that

    could teach it…now I didn’t know it back then but you could take those classes you

    would just have to go to a different school….but my family well isn’t very mmmm

    informing I guess you could say. I also wasn’t a very questionable child…but hay what

    happened happened. anyways that’s pretty much jr high as I remember it. I think their

    might have been 1 or 2 things I missed that might have been accessible in jr high but my

    memory is pretty fuzzy and the only thing I can think of that I might have missed would

    be advanced classes and extra classes you could take either online or somewhere

    else. for electronics well as long as the teacher didn’t see it then it was ok to have them

    at school and on. all teachers would make sure you couldn’t have cell phones out during

    class time but some would let you take your phone out or whatnot during the end of

    class when everyone was just waiting for the bell to ring. some teachers during study

    time would let you listen to music if you had headphones and it was down enough that

    other students couldn’t hear ya.
    ______________________________________________________________________
    so high school loved it more than jr high for sure still didn’t like it but it was ok. first of

    you got a days and b days a days you had 4 classes and b days you had 4 classes and

    you only had 1 lunch. you got lockers but rarely anybody used them because they

    allowed you to bring your book-bag…or your back-packs whatever you want to call it

    with you to class. also you got a 1-hour lunch but the first half-hour there is something

    called src which are mandatory for 10th grade for the first semester. everyone else can

    ethier go to src or go to lunch…src is basically study time…don’t know what src stands

    for but you can go to teachers and study…you always got checked in so it didn’t matter

    what class you went to in 10th grade. after 3rd period you do lunch…forgot to mention it

    srry. anyways in high school you could take ap classes and honors. i swear there is

    another type of class you could take but i don’t remember i think there was another post

    about it so i won’t worry to much on trying to remember if there was or not…i remember

    one is basically attending college courses…as it counts as college credit and credit

    towards graduation (however i believe it was half a credit for college but i’m still

    somewhat fuzzy on how all that worked) anyways other things you could do is go to the

    DATC which is kinda like a place where you go to learn a specific skill or something to

    that effect. there was another thing you could do where you could do an internship at a

    job you thought you would like…you couldn’t do just any internship cause they could

    only do with what resources they had but i think you had to be in 11th grade or 12th

    grade to do that. for electronic rules…well its about the same you’ll just find more

    teachers that are more willing to let you listen to music more and check your phone

    more. the DATC i am not sure what it stands for but if i remember right it did take up

    some classes. You could also get a job while in high school and if you needed to you

    could take a class that was worth 0 credits to be able to go to your job. course at the

    end of 12 grade you still had to have your 27 credits….i think it was 27…sounds right.

    but the 27 credits were split up….you had to take so many years of this and that it was

    very diverse in what you had to take…like some credits in fine arts you had to take a

    computer class and financial class…well i don’t remember it all so i won’t name all of

    them and everything else that goes along with it. they want ya to be able to be a well

    rounded person….You pretty still get to choose what you want to do….and if you plan it

    out right you could even graduate with an associates degree. that rarely if ever happens

    but i guess its been done before. I don’t know if this might be true but if you just worked

    everyday without any fun time whatsoever from 9th grade till 12th that’s also including

    your summers….and you plan everything out perfectly you might be able to graduate

    with a bachelors degree or be very close to one….course that’s just my opinion don’t

    fully know what getting a degree means…just goes to show how much of an idiot i am :O
    ______________________________________________________________________
    Well those are my thoughts/memories/opinions about school in Utah. If ya want to take a

    break in reading and do something else then awesome :) i think it would be about

    time :O lol anyways the comment you made about Japan is better than America…in

    some aspects i agree but there are some where America is better than Japan to school

    wise….it all depends on the person that is learning in that environment and what works

    best for them. honestly for me i think japans way of learning would have been perfect

    for me from what i understand of your explanation. when you say japan education is

    better than America education that is false. cause in some ways America education is

    better than japan education. I don’t fully comprehend the way japan ways of education

    so i won’t put forth my mmm opinion of the matter cause i won’t make an opinion until

    understand it more. mmmmm i want to get the point across that i’m not trying to say

    what your saying is false or anything like that i want to make sure you don’t firmly

    believe that japan education is better in every single way than American education.

    There are aspects of the American education that are better than the Japan education

    and aspects of the Japan education that are better than the American education. Now

    you might want my reasoning on what i think American education is better than japan

    education….well if i truly think about it there might be many….but the two major points

    have pretty much i think been clearly stated….American education improves ones own

    individuality more than Japan’s. the example to back that statement would be the post i

    saw about a teacher trying to ask questions to a student and them not answering. i think

    there were other posts…that i can’t remember and you might already understand what

    i’m trying to get across….from what posts i have read it seems that you are more of and

    understanding person then most people out there. I guess why don’t talk much to other

    people is because when i talk to other people i think of so many things of what other

    people could mean…(simply saying things could implicate so many other things that if

    they don’t expand on it i’m left to wonder what they are trying to implicate.) for like the

    example of saying The Japan Education is better than the American Education. well

    does that mean you fully believe that in every way shape and form that’s true or

    something else? If i could guess a persons mmmm wisdom (i think that’s the right word)

    then i don’t think i would have any trouble with simple statements like that. each

    persons understanding is different and each person takes everything different. In fact if

    you get right down to it nobody could ever truly understand anyone. That persons

    experience’s and interactions with other people make them so unique that you could

    never understand them completely.
    ______________________________________________________________________
    I’m somewhat tired of typing and i bet your tired of reading i hope i got across what i was trying to say and Thanks for sharing your opinions…I’d like you take this (underline not) not as (mmmm the closest word that i can think of anything that’s close to what i’m trying to say) like its pennilizing you…argh can’t think of the right word….i don’t think pennilizing is a word….but it sounds right :O mmmm being mean? but it feels to strong…of a word ahh well i hope you don’t take all this in the wrong way :-) have a wonderful day…..at least try to :O i hope your eyes aren’t dead!!!!! it will make this longer but i hope it makes it easier to read cause to me reading a large column of text that doesn’t have any space in-between makes me lose my place so hopefully by putting more space between them will make it easier to read. at least those big columns i will :o
    and finally sorry for the mistakes…wasn’t focused on making this look nice!

    • tokyo5 September 24, 2013 at 9:46 am #

      Thanks for visiting my blog…and the extensive comment!

      Did you have computers in class in elementary school? Japanese schools don’t use computers…except for “computer class”.

      And cell-phones are permitted in junior high?
      In Japan, high school students can bring their phones to school…but they must turn them off (except for the breaks between classes).

      And Japan does use the “credits” system that American schools use.

      Thanks again.

  114. Addison September 25, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

    yes we had computers in elementary there where about 5 or so in every class but all they were used for was the for the tests on the books you read. they are rarely if ever used and yes cell phones are permitted in junior high you just can’t have it out during class….some people that have special circumstances would probably be able to use a phone in class for example somebody that has a parent that has a serious illness or if the parent and student only use it for emergency’s. but for the most part cell phones aren’t allowed to be used in school if your just a normal student then you just have to make sure the phone is on silent or off and just use it when your not in class btw i just barely heard about this word press thing so i made an account….so the name will change but its still me :O

    • Addison September 25, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

      guess not…thought it would change… :O

      • tokyo5 September 25, 2013 at 11:36 pm #

        Your avatar is associated with your email address… not a blog URL.
        By the way, do you have a blog now?

    • tokyo5 September 25, 2013 at 11:35 pm #

      Very different from when I went to school in America. And also quite different from Japanese schools.

  115. Snowman September 27, 2013 at 12:56 am #

    I know a lot of others have commented on the differences between school in the U.S. as you elude to it being and how they experienced it, so I guess I’ll join in too (it sounds fun). I’ll also state that your gross generalization of the curriculum and culture of schools in the U.S. is incorrect regardless of opinion; I can say that all Japanese people walk around barefoot saying “ching chang chong” and I’m wrong even though it is my opinion. I can also say “I think everyone in Japan lives in a city” and still be wrong even though it is my opinion. That being said, If you think the Japanese school system is overall inherently better due to how it works structurally and systematically, well I honestly think you’re right (I’ve been doing a bit of research on both schooling systems out of curiosity). However, I can guarantee you that if you were to generalize schools in the U.S. based on the anecdotes regarding the high school my girlfriend went to, the U.S. would have superior academics in high school compared to most countries in the world.

    Anyways, I’ll talk about three vastly different school situations in the U.S. that I know of:

    —————————————————————

    For the three cases listed below, all schools work as you would expect them to in the U.S.: you have to get so many credits to pass a grade, there is some selection when it comes to classes. I’ll also skip to high school because that is where things are most interesting.

    1: My experience (Rural/Suburban Michigan)
    2: My sister’s teaching experience (Slums/blighted area of Detroit)
    3: My girlfriends experience (Suburb of Chicago)

    -1-
    If all schools in the U.S. were like my high school, everyone would graduate with knowledge of how to operate within a machine and wood shop, know either the fundamentals of Calculus or have taken at least the first year equivalent of it. Everyone in my school also had to learn the basics of at least one other language (only Spanish was offered :[ ). If a student managed to complete all the courses the school had to offer in one ‘track’, math for example, then the student could attend courses at the local community college or at the nearby skilled trades school for free to further their learning.

    We had roughly 1 computer per student, most of which were located in separate computer lab rooms or in the school library. Anyone could join a sports team though they would be selective of who to put on the field of games. There weren’t many clubs, however sports and some classes like band filled the gaps, having practice through the second half of summer near the end of July(Marching band Practice was around 10 hours a week, while football was around 20 hours a week during the second half).

    Crime wasn’t an issue whatsoever, and while there was drug use it was limited largely to alcohol and marijuana (not while in school, just the student body consumed these).

    Most students were college bound (over 90%) of the class.

    Since another poster brought up religion and politics and how they work with the school system, I’ll bring those up too. My school was mostly secular in terms of what they taught and how the administration operated, but the student body was without a doubt mostly christian. So we learned all the good sciency things. We also learned about the relations between the US and Japan prior to the our entry into the second world war, the start, the firebombing campaign and about the use of nuclear weapons (which, imo, was really shitty but still better than a land invasion).

    -2-
    After deciding research wasn’t for her, my sister joined the Teach for America program and got assigned to a school in Detroit, teaching chemistry and biology. From what she has told me:

    Most of the students were illiterate or were far behind where they should be (knowing only elementary math in high school // +-*/ ). There were some who managed to excel despite the environment but they were few and far between.

    She dropped out after half a year as things got progressively worse. She was threatened with death, students would throw rocks and other objects at each other, would light objects in fire, would steal from the school and everyone else, would fight constantly, and would not listen to the teachers or administration (which would then join forces with the parents and blame the teachers). Crime and drugs were a huge problem.Teen sex/pregnancy was such a problem here that most girls would leave high school (or be kicked out) with a mouth to feed.

    Very few students were college bound (according to my sister less than 5%).

    In this case, the school system has teachers are the only ones held accountable for the learning and well being of the students in the school. I would chalk this one up to the society and the culture of the area, rather than the school system itself though.

    -3-
    My girlfriend attended the public school where she lived. While there she took over a years worth of college credits and learned several languages (german, mandarin and spanish are the three she is most proficient with, ignoring english). Teen sex/pregnancy was a problem here, as was drug use, but crime was almost nonexistent. There were loads of clubs to be involved in (she said she spent most of her time outside of school participating in clubs or sleeping, and she only sleeps ~6 hrs a night at most). Sports were selective.

    Most students were college bound (over 90%) of the class, and those who were typically finished high school already finishing one year of university/college.

    —————————————————————

    So, if you were to base your assessment of the U.S. schooling system based on one of these three examples, you would get a drastically different picture of what school in the U.S. is like. And think, this is all within one particular region (great lakes/midwest), in ONE particular subculture within the U.S.

    Well, I kind of forgot where I was going with this so if you want to talk about whatever feel free to ask ^^

    Also, if I sounded condescending or angry I apologize.

    • tokyo5 September 30, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

      Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting.

      >I’ll also state that your gross generalization of the curriculum and culture of schools in the U.S. is incorrect regardless of opinion; I can say that all Japanese people walk around barefoot saying “ching chang chong” and I’m wrong even though it is my opinion.

      I don’t agree. Not quite the same. I stated that I think that (A) is better than (B). You can’t say that that’s “incorrect”…it’s my preference or opinion.
      Not at all the same as making a rude generalization about an entire group of people.

      Also, your example of the three very different school systems helps to show, in my opinion, that the education in Japan is better because you would never find such a neglected school system full of drugs and violence.
      You showed the vast diffence in the quality of schools in America. In Japan, though, all public schools are generally equal.

      • Snowman October 1, 2013 at 5:13 am #

        >”I don’t agree. Not quite the same. I stated that I think that (A) is better than (B). You can’t say that that’s “incorrect”…it’s my preference or opinion.”

        Alright, fair enough.

        >”Not at all the same as making a rude generalization about an entire group of people.”

        It is similar though, because to make the original argument of (A) > (B), both (A) and (B) had to be generalized.

        >”Also, your example of the three very different school systems helps to show, in my opinion, that the education in Japan is better because you would never find such a neglected school system full of drugs and violence.”

        While I agree that the school system is probably better overall, the root of the problem in the majority of bad schools in the US is the society and culture surrounding the school; the system of schooling is not at fault. Regardless of what system implemented (short of say, something comparable to boot camp enforced by armed guards), the problems would persist because they come from outside the school.

        That opens up a whole new can of worms right there though: why the hell are so many people caught in a perpetual cycle of crime and poverty?

      • tokyo5 October 1, 2013 at 10:42 am #

        >the system of schooling is not at fault.

        I agree. But, either way, I like that all public schools in Japan are generally equal.

        By the way, when were you a high school student?

      • Snowman October 5, 2013 at 11:13 am #

        I graduated from high school in 2010 (fall).

      • tokyo5 October 5, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

        In the fall? Not summer?

        So you’re about 21 or 22 years old?

      • Snowman October 6, 2013 at 2:47 am #

        oh….
        Sorry I confused myself //
        I started college that fall and graduated high school that spring summer.

        Am 21 right now.

      • tokyo5 October 6, 2013 at 9:10 am #

        So you’re in your third year of college now?
        What are you studying?

      • Snowman October 6, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

        Engineering. It’s fun… albeit stressful, but very interesting.

      • tokyo5 October 6, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

        Is it a four-year degree?

      • Snowman October 7, 2013 at 11:12 am #

        Yes

      • tokyo5 October 7, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

        Good luck.

  116. Lou Ann Loveless October 4, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

    Thank you for an interesting post.
    Perhaps I missed the answers, but what happens, if for some reason, a student does not pass the entrance exam to high school? Do different schools have different entrance exams, or is there one exam for all high schools?

    • tokyo5 October 5, 2013 at 7:25 am #

      Technically he’d have to wait a year and try again.

      But, usually, parents of who students who attend public school but failed the high school entrance exam pay for their kid to go to a private high school.

      Most kids study hard and pass the exam though.

  117. Anonymous October 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    Hello, I just wanted to say that this is a very interesting post. I am currently attending an American high school that offers IB courses, I was wondering if you had any opinions on that because it sounds similar to the way in which classes are structured in Japan, in terms of workload and breaks at least. I also wanted to say that I like the way you respond to people’s comments- even rude ones :).

    • tokyo5 October 8, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

      >Hello, I just wanted to say that this is a very interesting post.

      Thank you.

      > I am currently attending an American high school that offers IB courses, I was wondering if you had any opinions on that

      Actually, I don’t know what “IB courses” are.
      What are they?

      >because it sounds similar to the way in which classes are structured in Japan, in terms of workload and breaks at least.

      Really? How’s that?

      >I like the way you respond to people’s comments- even rude

      Yes, I reply to every comment. I appreciate them all.

  118. Silver Fang October 10, 2013 at 12:16 am #

    I like the idea of kids being trusted to be responsible and keep their own classrooms clean and to walk to and from school by themselves, even in kindergarten. Why can’t we do that here?

    • tokyo5 October 10, 2013 at 12:42 am #

      Actually kindergartens don’t normally go to school in Japan without their parent.
      Starting in junior high they do.

      But… I agree with you comment. Janitors aren’t needed – students can clean their own school.

  119. Noctis October 10, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

    Thanks for the important information. Benko ni natta.

    • tokyo5 October 11, 2013 at 12:03 am #

      I’m glad my blog was helpful to you

  120. Hatsune Miku November 4, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    GO Japan

  121. Beth December 16, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    This was very interesting and I would love to go to Japan to study there for at least a year. Sadly that will never happen because my parents would not be willing to move there for at least year. Plus it would cost to much and I don’t know how to speak Japanese and I would love to speak Japanese. This article was very helpful but some of the comments did not make sense because they are not true. I am in Eighth Grade in a very small town which is at least two miles long and as much as I would love to leave my life here to go to Japan I cannot and I would love to. Thank You for your help. I also have a question are the events in anime and magna really happen in Japan’s students lives.

    • tokyo5 December 16, 2013 at 11:05 am #

      >This was very interesting

      Thank you.

      >I would love to go to Japan to study…(but) my parents would not be willing to move there

      Well, actually, your parents wouldn’t have to move here if they were willing to let you do a “homestay” alone (and if you were approved to do a homestay).

      >This article was very helpful

      I’m glad…but “helpful” for what?

      >some of the comments did not make sense because they are not true.

      Which comments?

      >I am in Eighth Grade in a very small town

      In America?

      >are the events in anime and magna really happen in Japan’s students lives.

      Which events, in particular, are you referring to?

  122. Beth December 18, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    The article was helpful for a class project to research a topic you are interested in. I do live in America. In anime or magna I am not referring to a specific event, just an event related to the topic of Japanese schools. Plus I can’t find the comments that I thought that was incorrect considering that there are many comments.

    • tokyo5 December 18, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

      >The article was helpful for a class project

      I’m glad it helped. I hope you do well on the project.

      >In anime or magna I am not referring to a specific event, just an event related to the topic of Japanese schools.

      Well, then, generally speaking, the way that daily life is depicted in Japanese cartoons and movies is pretty similar to real life in Japan.

      >I can’t find the comments that I thought that was incorrect considering that there are many comments.

      Yeah, this post has gotten a lot of comments. It surprised me!

  123. F December 26, 2013 at 11:00 am #

    Wow, that was a very nice and informative post. And your answers in the comments are also great, I think I spent more than an hour just reading some of them.

    I’m Brazilian (I think there was another one in the comments, right?) and I’ve been studying in Japan for almost two years now, one in a Japanese Language School and this one in a Kosen (高専, I’m not sure if you know about them). Kosen has a lot of similarities with High Schools, so I think it is indeed relevant to talk about my experience here. I’ve never studied in an American school, but I can understand what you mean when you say the Japanese system is better. I think the culture here takes Education in general much more seriously and that makes a lot of difference.

    I do have some criticism towards it, though. Like some other people have pointed out, there is no interaction between the teachers and the students at all. Yeah, it’s not like there is a rule which says no one can ask, or the teacher is gonna get angry if someone asks a question, but the whole atmosphere is… well, no student wants to use the “sacred public time” of the class to ask a private question. Sometimes I feel like I’d be having the same learning experience if I was in my room watching the lecture in video format from a computer.

    Another serious problem I feel is very common here is that the teachers use up a lot of time writing things in the blackboard when the students could just use the textbook to study. I think most teachers feel it’s necessary to write everything so students can study even if they don’t use the textbook, but when they do that they lose time they could be using to solve problems or review something (which is another thing japanese teachers NEVER do). Well, at least I can practice muh kanji. haha

    The classes are also kind of easy to pass (even though the place I study is relatively prestigious and hard to get into… If I remember correctly, the hensachi is something like 67). But in a way it’s just that you have more freedom to study more what you want or feel you need to.

    But yeah, relative to my own country (which I believe is very different from the US, by the way), there’s much more of a school atmosphere with all the clubs and extracurricular activies here. I really think in the average the Japanese recieve a much better education than most the rest of the world.

    • tokyo5 December 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

      Thanks for commenting.

      >your answers in the comments are also great

      Thank you.

      >I’m Brazilian (I think there was another one in the comments, right?)

      Yes, this comment was from a Brazilian visitor to my blog.

      >I’ve been studying in Japan for almost two years now

      Really? Great! Do you have Japanese ancestry (as many Brazilians in Japan do) ?

      >in a Kosen

      A technical high school. What do you study?

      >I feel like I’d be having the same learning experience if I was in my room watching the lecture in video format from a computer.

      It’s not quite like that. You can ask the teacher questions. Japanese students won’t usually do so during a teacher’s lecture, but afterwards they sometimes do.
      Also, in a classroom you have classmates … and I’m sure you’ve noticed, Japanese students like to work in teams and help each other.

      >the teachers use up a lot of time writing things in the blackboard when the students could just use the textbook to study.

      They are explaining it … and students normally copy what is on the board. Writing out by hand helps you to remember.

      >I really think in the average the Japanese recieve a much better education than most the rest of the world.

      I’m not sure about other countries, but the school system here is better than what I had (the U.S. schools that I attended weren’t “bad”… but the schools here are better)

  124. Mary January 11, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    Hi! Thank you for writing this informative blog :) I am currently a student in the United States but would like to transfer to Japan because I want to stimulate my thinking and have the best education that I could. That being said I am also thinking about my future and want to be in a stable economic environment.

    What do you think about Universities in America compared to Universities in Japan? Also how do you like the Japan culture? I have been to Japan twice and love everything, especially the people because most of them seem very nice and friendly.

    • tokyo5 January 11, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

      Generally speaking, American universities are easy to get admitted to, but hard to graduate … Japanese ones are the other way around – – difficult to get into, but easier to graduate once you are admitted.

      Of course I love Japanese culture!

  125. daymarex March 3, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

    As a Chinese-American born and raised here, I wish the mood of schools were more based on respect. Students talk back to their teachers, insult them in their faces, and even try to physically assault them from time to time. My classmates can’t even wash their own P.E. clothes. Honestly, kids in the U.S. have too much free time which is spent on having sεx, doing drugs, or just merely killing brain cells one by one staring at a television for hours without end.

    Although I’m only in eighth grade, science is the only subject without an honors class. Let’s just say it’s rather cancerous in there.

    • daymarex March 3, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

      In addition to that science class, many students fail to perform basic skills such as multiplying and dividing (with a calculator). May someone please store me in a pet cage destined for Japan or China?

      As of public schools, everything is cancerous. I haven’t a clue what goes on in boarding and private schools, though. I have always yearned to attend a boarding school, but alas, the economy is corrupt and money is hard to come by.

      • tokyo5 March 3, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

        >May someone please store me in a pet cage destined for Japan or China?

        If you want to study overseas, have you asked your school councilor about a possible student-exchange program?

    • tokyo5 March 3, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

      >As a Chinese-American born and raised here

      By “here”, do you mean America? (“Here”, from my point of view, is “Japan”.) ;)

      What part of America are you from?

      You school life sounds hard. Do your best!

  126. daymarex March 3, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    Studying abroad is rather frowned upon where I live, and my parents would never let me do that. :/
    Here as in America. xD
    And I’m from California.
    Academically, school life is a breeze, but the people you have to deal with socially is a big pain in the rear.
    It’s just the way the media emphasizes how teenagers should develop their identity which causes many kids who could have been college-bound Ivy League students into such (excuse my language) sluts wearing clothes (or rather, lack of) that show WAY too much skin.
    Lessons go by so slow because a majority of regular students don’t know the concept of “spend thirty minutes on the assignment and shave off an hour of repeated information in class” is. Regular students mainly just devote their life to their smart phones, social media, and going out with their friends.
    I suppose the situation is mainly like this due to the lack of one cultural influence on schools. In Asian countries, respect and hard work is strongly emphasized everywhere, and I guess the combination of all cultural influences equates to laziness.
    I remember on my first day of sixth grade, I was accidentally placed into regular classes, and for arithmetic, we had to learn what the term “factor tree” meant. I almost died on that day thinking that I was in a special ed class. XD
    But as the years go on, honor and regular students are being further separated resulting in a safer environment to learn, so I suppose that high school won’t be completely bad.
    But in America, everyone just focuses on high school and completely neglects elementary and middle school as if it didn’t play a role in their future.

    • tokyo5 March 3, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

      >Studying abroad is rather frowned upon where I live, and my parents would never let me do that.

      Well, maybe you’d get accepted to study at a college in another country if you apply when you’re older.

      >I suppose that high school won’t be completely bad

      Good. I hope you can enjoy your high school life more than your junior high (middle school).

  127. Tony! March 5, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    All I guess I have to say is that I really wish I could have done my schooling in Japan growing up instead of the U.S public school system.

    Like someone else mentioned above, teachers have to put up with so much from students and they can’t really do much about it, I honestly can’t remember a single class where the whole class time was filled with attentive & quiet students. Students that really tried to learn were picked on or messed with in one way or another.

    Even if you are not one of those picked on for trying to be a good student, or one that joins the pack of wolves who do the picking on,… You’re certainly not in a environment that promotes learning as it seems a school in Japan does.

    • tokyo5 March 5, 2014 at 11:22 pm #

      >certainly not…an environment that promotes learning

      And that’s too bad because that’s the whole purpose of school…to learn.

      • daymarex March 6, 2014 at 11:41 am #

        Here in America, most of the time, the purpose of the school (in the student’s eyes) is a popularity fashion runway. I’ve relentlessly tried and tried to convince my friends to think about the future, not now. If you don’t put any time into studies, how are you going to get a job that lets you support yourself? Then again, no one takes my advice because who likes the harsh truth, anyways?

      • tokyo5 March 6, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

        > I’ve relentlessly tried and tried to convince my friends to think about the future

        Maybe they think you sound like their parents! Just lead by example and maybe they’ll follow!

  128. Claire March 26, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    I’ll be coming to Japan in June on a class trip. I’ll spend a week and a half with my class in Tokyo, then we’ll spend the next week and a half in Suwa with a host family because it’s my city’s (St. Louis) sister city. I know I’ll spend some time at a Japanese high school in Suwa, so this is very helpful!

    But since I don’t own any 上履き, what would I do? Do Japanese high schools have extra pairs just in case? Or should I bring a pair of thin slippers to change into? I don’t want to make the floors dirty, that would be pretty rude.

    American schools are still a lot like they were back then, but they have changed a bit.
    Security has increased due to the rise of violence at schools, and they are getting very strict about bullying, but unfortunately if a bully starts punching you a lot and you punch him back only once, you both get in trouble even though you’re protecting yourself.

    There’s also a huge emphasis on technology. At my school chalkboards have been replaced with whiteboards and Smartboards, which are projection screens that work as a touchscreen. Students and teachers use them to put on presentations, play movies, use the Internet, and for writing. There are also lots of computers in some of the rooms, and carts with laptops that teachers can borrow if their class doesn’t have computers. Cell phones are allowed at school, but the rules for them vary by teacher. I’ve had teachers that will take them away on sight, (unless you tell them before class that you’re expecting an important text from your parents) and others who don’t care if you have the phone in front of your face the whole class. Most teachers are fine with phones as long as you’re only using them during appropriate times, (like during independent work) and are doing your work. Since some students learn better when there’s background noise, many teachers will also let students listen to their ipods as long as only one earbud is in, and the music isn’t too loud.

    My school is on a block schedule, which means instead of having 8 45-minute classes each day, I have 4 90-minute classes each day and the classes alternate. (I have 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th blocks on “Red Days” and 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th blocks on “Blue Days”.) I think it helps get a lot more done.

    My school also has a ton of clubs, (too many to name, I’m a senior and don’t even know half of them) even weird things like Hummus Club.

    • tokyo5 March 26, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

      >I’ll be coming to Japan in June on a class trip.

      Wow! You’re lucky! I wish I could have visited Japan when I was a school student!

      >a week and a half with my class in Tokyo, then we’ll spend the next week and a half in Suwa with a host family

      I think Tokyo is the best city in the world…I’m sure you’ll enjoy ten days here! Suwa is near Nagano, isn’t it? It’s a very beautiful, rural area. I visited Nagano in 1998 when they hosted the Olympics.

      >this is very helpful!

      Thank you.

      >I don’t own any 上履き (indoor shoes), what would I do?

      Every school has a number of school slippers for guests visiting the school without indoor shoes. So, you don’t need to worry about that.
      Besides, they know that removing shoes indoors isn’t a part of American culture…so no one would expect you to come prepared with your own indoor shoes.

      >if a bully starts punching you…

      Is there a lot of punching at your school?

      >There’s also a huge emphasis on technology. At my school chalkboards have been replaced with whiteboards and Smartboards,

      Japanese schools still use chalkboards and students write with pencil and paper.

      >Smartboards…are projection screens that work as a touchscreen. Students and teachers use them to put on presentations, play movies, use the Internet, and for writing.

      Thank you for explaining about it! Are movies and internet used in American classrooms?

      >Cell phones are allowed at school,

      They are strictly forbidden in Japanese elementary and junior high schools! High school students often commute to their school by train…so they usually have a phone nowadays…but they must turn it off on school property and keep it in their locker (they are allowed to use it on break-time.)

      >you’re expecting an important text from your parents

      In an emergency, parents can contact their students through the school office.

      >others who don’t care if you have the phone in front of your face the whole class.

      That’s not a proper learning environment!

      >many teachers will also let students listen to their ipods as long as only one earbud is in, and the music isn’t too loud.

      Really? That’s unheard of in schools here! Students can’t study properly if they’re listening to music.

      >My school is on a block schedule

      Japanese students have five different class schedules…one for each weekday. Normally they have five or six classes per day.

      >Hummus Club.

      What’s that?

  129. jhalak pandey June 21, 2014 at 9:39 pm #

    japan schools are fantastic

    • tokyo5 June 21, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

      Have you attended school in Japan?

  130. Lena July 2, 2014 at 7:30 am #

    Hello,
    I’m from Croatia and very interested in Japanese and American school systems (I like comparing education systems worldwide,probably due to influence of my mother and grandmother-both teachers).
    In Croatia,there are no junior high schools. There is elementary school (mandatory,grades 1-8,that is 7-14 years) and from then on you can choose between vocational schools (you have an occupation when you finish them-economics,tourist management,machine operators,cooks,bartenders,nurses (it does not take college to become a nurse here),physiotherapists,graphic designers…hundreds of professions) but I think it’s bad because usually bad students go to this type of school (sometimes those who can’t afford college) so they don’t actually like their job once they graduated,and gymnasiums,hard schools which prepare you solely for university and don’t give you any profession. Gymnasiums and majority of vocational schools last 4 years (grade 1-4,15-18 years) but some vocational schools only last for 3 years (but after ending those schools you can’t go to university).
    School uniforms are non-existent here,in any form. (like in USA) but we don’t have same subjects in same order every day (unlike USA and like Japan). Like Japan,we have one class which then,depending on the school,either stays in one classroom all the time (that was the case in my elementary) or moves around different classrooms (like my high school-gymnasium). That means we cannot choose our subjects like students in the USA can.
    In my gymnasium,we had Croatian,English (Croatian high schools do a great job teaching English,I am able to write this entirely depending on my English education up to college) Mathematics,Physics,Chemistry,Biology,Latin,PE,Logic,Philosophy,Sociology,Psychology,second language (German or Italian),Informatics,History,Geography,Music and Arts. And Religious education or Ethics (depending of your choice-but you had to choose one!). Yes,all that. No choice,all students had to do all of those.
    Like in German schools,for EVERY ONE of those subjects you have to write a test and have an oral exam. There is a book called “imenik” (it looks like this (in the top left corner is the student’s name and personal data.)) where each student has two pages for him (it contains basic information about student,name,last name,birth date and name of parents,and a room with blank squares for grades in each subject. The teacher carries imenik to class and randomly opens a page. That unlucky student has to come up to the board and answer questions for a grade. That is oral exam. This repeats until all of the students have oral grades in that subject.
    I don’t think it exists anywhere else…but it’s not really bad. Because in oral exam,teachers usually ask you to EXPLAIN something thoroughly and deeply,rather than to simply ask yes/no questions.
    Oral exams exist in all schools and in university.
    There are,most often,between 4 and 8 grades in written tests and 4 to 8 grades in oral exams for each subject in each semester (half a year),which form your GPA. So we really had to study lot!
    Grading system can depend up to schools and teachers,but less than 50% generally is fail (grade 1 is fail,grades 2-5 are passing,with 5 being the best).
    If at the end of the year (ends in June,starts in September) you have majority of 1’s in some subject,you can write an “repairment exam” which contains all the things in that subject for that year. If you don’t pass after 2 tries,you fail a grade. If you have majority of 1’s in three different subjects you fail a grade automatically.
    In the vast majority of elementary schools there are school lunches prepared for kids. (no choice,only one dish) But this is completely non-existent in high schools (though they sometimes have cafeteria-mine did have).
    I would like to ask about what exactly do Japanese and American students learn? It seems to me as if Croatian high schools are harder and better than American,but easier and worse than Japanese. For instance,mathematics(it’s the easiest subject for comparison):
    in gymnasium in Croatia,we learn trigonometric equations,derivatives,combinatorics,limits,probability,matrices,factorials and integrals by the time we’re 18. I took a look at American SAT exams and they seem not to include any of that. Do Japanese students learn those?
    In History,half of the time was dedicated to world history and half of the time for Croatian history. So we did learn pretty much about the world.
    Students don’t clean their classrooms and I think it’s bad,the Japanese way is the right way.
    We also don’t take a shower after gym class. There aren’t really any clubs,and if there are any,few of the students join them.
    There are school buses for elementary,but not for high school. If you’re from small town or a village (I am) then you often must travel with public transport (buses or trains) to your high school of choice (I had to,10 minutes by train,no big deal).
    Can you be expelled from school in Japan and USA? Here,if you really mess something up (it has to be big-bullying or destroying school property) you get “ukor” (letter of warning) from the principal. If you get three “ukors” you are expelled. It rarely happens,mostly in vocational schools. You cannot be expelled from elementary school,but you can be transferred to another one.
    To get in your university of choice,your GPA is taken into account,but majority of your points stems from Matura (equivalent of SAT tests in the USA). You must write Matura in Croatian,Math and Foreign language (most often English) either B level (easier) or A level (harder). Any additional subject (which most universities require) has only one level.
    Are there any questions you would like to ask about Croatian school system? Feel free to ask.

    • Lena July 2, 2014 at 7:50 am #

      The imenik looks like this. In the top left corner is the student’s name and personal data.

      • tokyo5 July 2, 2014 at 8:37 am #

        Is that a teacher’s book?

    • tokyo5 July 2, 2014 at 8:36 am #

      Thank you for your comment!

      >very interested in Japanese and American school systems

      Oh really? Well, I know a bit about both…so feel free to ask any questions.

      >my mother and grandmother-both teachers

      What grades / subjects do they teach?

      Are you a student now? What grade?

      >In Croatia,there are no junior high schools.

      Oh, so elementary school goes all the way to eighth grade there?

      >I am able to write this entirely depending on my English education

      Can everyone in Croatia speak English as well as you?

      >we really had to study lot!

      Well, that’s good! Sounds like a good school system!

      >school lunches prepared for kids. (no choice,only one dish)

      I don’t think children need to have a choice of menu at school lunch. Just like their dinner at home.

      >non-existent in high schools

      No school lunches in high school?

      >what exactly do Japanese and American students learn?…Do Japanese students learn those (high level math)?

      The math that my children learned in Japanese school was more difficult than what I studied in school in America…but I don’t think it’s as complicated as the math you described?
      Do all Croatian students learn such high-level math?

      >In History,half of the time was dedicated to world history and half of the time for Croatian history.

      American and Japanese students don’t learn much, if anything, about your country, unfortunately.
      But I suppose every country teaches their children about their own country’s history, as well as “basic” world history.

      I wonder what you studied about American history.

      >There aren’t really any clubs,and if there are any,few of the students join them.

      No after-school clubs?
      They’re a very big part of Japanese students’ school life!

      • Lena July 2, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

        What grades / subjects do they teach?

        Are you a student now? What grade?

        They were both elementary school teachers. Up to the 4th grade,all classes have only one teacher which teaches them all subjects. This is called “razredna nastava” in Croatian. From grade 5-8,students get different teachers for different subjects. That is probably similar to junior high schools in USA and Japan,right? Only,in Croatia,those kids are all in the same building and the class most likely remains the same after 4th grade(although teachers sometimes split the existing class into two smaller ones-that happened in my elementary). So my mother and grandmother taught children ages 7-10 to read,calculate,PE,foreign language (yes,children are taught foreign language from age 7,although they cannot read even Croatian then-they learn to read and write Croatian in first grade and foreign language in second) and so on.

        I’m in college now (2nd year).

        Oh, so elementary school goes all the way to eighth grade there?

        Yes,but grades 5-8 are indeed somewhat different,as I explained,but yes,it is only one school and the class remains the same.

        Can everyone in Croatia speak English as well as you?

        Thank you,I think I could still be better in English (articles! I probably forget them all the time,they don’t exist in Croatian) but I must admit I was at the top of my class in English,which contained of about 26 students,and only two more were at the same level as me. But I think all students are able to talk at least conversational English. About 90% of students know at least basic English,enough for everyday conversation,and others know German or Italian to the same level. We are aware that we are small country and heavily oriented at tourism,so learning foreign language is indeed very important here. 70% of Croatian population (yes,entire population,even old ones-though they most likely speak German) can speak another language enough to have a conversation-that’s official data. That is pretty astonishing. Croatia has,unfortunately,a long history of emigration and we never had Croatian as official language up to 1990,so this might as well play a part.
        The Matura test for English consists of a written part-you have to write an essay about some controversial statement (such as:”There should be a special tax on fast food”) with introduction,then affirmative part,giving at least three “pro” reasons,then disagreement part,giving at least three “con” reasons,and form a conclusion on your own. The essay has to have at least 250 words. I really don’t think American or Japanese students learn foreign language up to that level. Or am I wrong? And there is listening part and a special test which asks you to find missing words and so on.

        Well, that’s good! Sounds like a good school system!
        Yes,I agree.

        I don’t think children need to have a choice of menu at school lunch. Just like their dinner at home.
        In general I agree,but I think there should be at least some choices for vegetarians. Croatians eat a lot of meat and it’s really hard for vegetarian kids here.

        No school lunches in high school?
        Nope.

        Do all Croatian students learn such high-level math?
        No,only the ones in Gymnasium do (about 30% of kids go to gymnasium after elementary school). Also,I was at a gymnasium that specializes in math (we had 6 hours of math per week) but some of the things I mentioned (derivatives and integrals) are indeed what everyone in gymnasium learns. Vocational schools are a lot easier when it comes to math,but they have huge problems if they want to attend university later,because Matura is adapted to gymnasiums.

        I wonder what you studied about American history.
        We studied about the discovery of America,we mentioned America’s fight for independence from UK (those people in Boston that destroyed British ships),American civil war (not really much,only in part of one lesson),attack on Pearl Harbour (in a series of lessons about the Second world war),how Americans and Japanese fought on the Pacific (Iwo Jima,Phillipines),Cold war,Cuban missile crisis and,in the newest textbooks,the attack on September 11th is mentioned. So yes,we learn about your country but only looked through world’s lens. Unfortunately,we didn’t learn much about Japan. I recall only one paragraph before World War 2,in context of 15th or 16th century,and it mentioned Japan had a feudal system,and that the emperor didn’t have much power.

      • tokyo5 July 3, 2014 at 10:46 am #

        > That is probably similar to junior high schools in USA and Japan,right?

        More or less.

        >I’m in college now (2nd year).

        I guess you’re my second daughter’s age then. About 19?

        >I was at the top of my class in English

        Great!

        >70% of Croatian population…can speak another language enough to have a conversation

        Wow! Most of the country is bi-lingual!

        >I really don’t think American or Japanese students learn foreign language up to that level. Or am I wrong?

        No. Unfortunately, that’s correct.

        >I think there should be at least some choices for vegetarians.

        I hadn’t thought about that. Vegetarianism isn’t too common here.
        In Japanese schools (and, I’m sure, most every other country too), different lunches will be prepared for children who have legitimate special dietary needs (allergies, etc)

        >Gymnasium

        What does the term “gymnasium” mean in Croatia? In English, it’s the room for indoor sports (basketball, volleyball, etc).
        Called 「体育館」 (Tai-iku-kan) in Japanese.

        >we learn about your country but only looked through world’s lens.

        That’s normal, of course. Sad to say, when I was a student in America, I don’t think your country was ever mentioned at all in World History class.

  131. cern July 2, 2014 at 7:27 pm #

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  132. Lena July 3, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

    I guess you’re my second daughter’s age then. About 19?
    I’m 20 now. Is your daughter in college? I don’t really get the difference between college and university in the USA. What is the difference? We don’t really make a difference between those two terms. (I don’t know if that difference,if any,also exists in Japan.) In my country,you apply for university before Matura test,and if your scores allow it,you go to that university. We have to choose our major even before we have entered university (that is,as 18-19 year olds). For instance,you choose to study Dental medicine. You apply to the Faculty of Dental medicine,among other choices,and if you get in,you study Dental medicine for the next five years,until you graduate with a degree in that. Is that how college works in USA or Japan?

    What does the term “gymnasium” mean in Croatia? In English, it’s the room for indoor sports (basketball, volleyball, etc).
    Called 「体育館」 (Tai-iku-kan) in Japanese.

    Yes,I know,but in Croatia (and in Germany,Austria and some other middle European countries) it is the term for a special kind of high school (that is,non-vocational high school). We don’t call our rooms for indoor sports gymnasiums. We call them “dvorana”,which is entirely Croatian term,meaning the same as “hall”. Gymnasium was originally Greek or Latin term for some schools,I think,but since Greek schools put heavy emphasis on sports,it is possible that English people only used that word for things related to sports.

    Sad to say, when I was a student in America, I don’t think your country was ever mentioned at all in World History class.
    Depending on when you went to school,my country perhaps didn’t even exist then. It was only formed in 1991,and it is only two years older than me!

    I have a few more questions (hope I don’t bother too much):
    Do Japanese or American students often go to trips? In Croatian schools,it is common to take students on at least one major trip per year,in grades 1-4 it is only one-day trip,in 4th grade it is 4 days trip and in 7th or 8th grade it is 5-6 days of trip in some far part of the country (I live far from the coast and we went to one island.) In the 3rd grade of high school,you go on 7 days trip abroad with entire class. We went to the Czech Republic and Germany. Some schools go to Spain,Greece or Italy. If some students can’t afford the trip,other students jump in,organize a charity or simply collect enough money for that student,and the teacher is paid by the school. Are abroad trips common for USA or Japanese students?
    How long do the classes last in Japan and in the USA? In Croatia,classes last for about 45 minutes with 5 minutes of break between each class and one major break of 15 minutes,for lunch. There are,normally,between 5-6 classes per day in elementary school and 7-8 in high school. That means that the school doesn’t last long,but the study material is pretty intense,as you saw,so we have a lot of work to do at home.

    • tokyo5 July 4, 2014 at 9:01 am #

      >What is the difference (between college and university)?

      I believe a college is smaller and has a specialty that all students study (such as “nursing college”). A university has many different majors.

      >(Gymnasium) is the term for a special kind of high school

      I see. Thank you.

      >(Croatia) was only formed in 1991

      Oh really? I was already in Japan then.

      >Do Japanese or American students often go to trips?

      When I was a student in America, my school didn’t go on many. And they weren’t too far. Museum and NASA tours (both were only a day-trip).

      Japanese students go on many field trips. Some are one-day and others are three-days or so. Trips to Kyoto, Tokyo Sky Tree, skiing, camping, BBQ, etc.
      (Of course, students from other parts of Japan come to Tokyo on trips sometimes).

      >Are abroad trips common for USA or Japanese students?

      Not in public schools.

      >How long do the classes last in Japan and in the USA?

      In Japan, usually 50 minutes per class. Five or six classes a day.
      When I was a high school student in Florida, we had seven classes a day…each was 45 minutes long, I think.

      >In Croatia…15 minutes,for lunch.

      Only fifteen minutes for lunch? So short!

      • Lena July 5, 2014 at 4:01 am #

        Thank you for these informations. You are very kind. I’ll comment again if I have any more questions.

      • tokyo5 July 5, 2014 at 8:49 am #

        Thanks

  133. Jennifer Lee July 23, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    Can you do an article on Japanese Universities/Colleges vs American/European Universities/Colleges? From what I’ve seen when I was a foreign exchange student at a Uni in Tokyo the Japanese Uni students were busy with arubaito/clubs/ditching classes and networking/searching for career/jobs and attending class/homework/course work were the least of their worries. imho I think the American/Western European Unis/Colleges are better academically and prepare the students to be professional/mature and competitive.

    • tokyo5 July 24, 2014 at 8:04 am #

      >Can you do an article on Japanese Universities/Colleges vs American/European Universities/Colleges?

      Thank you for the suggestion. Maybe I will when I get a chance.

      Why don’t you write about your experience in college in Japan and your home country?

  134. Kenzie Ely July 23, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    Hi, I’m from America, and would like to say I personally loved your post. Since I am a writer, and this helped my book alot. Also I attend high school and was wondering in Japan do they have guards like police like they so often here?

    • Kenzie Ely July 23, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

      Also one more question in the class are holidays celebrated like Christmas, or Valentines, and if they are do your national holidays celebrated in class as well?

      • tokyo5 July 24, 2014 at 8:16 am #

        >Also one more question in the class are holidays celebrated like Christmas, or Valentines, and if they are do your national holidays celebrated in class as well?

        Are you asking if Valentines Day and Xmas are school holidays in Japan?
        No. They’re both celebrated in Japan (differently than in America though) and they’re both popular occasions here. But neither are “legal” holidays here…even Xmas is a regular work day in Japan.

        Or, are you asking if something special is done on those days in Japanese schools?
        No. Other than maybe a special dessert with lunch, nothing is done on those days.
        Well…kindergartens often have a “Xmas play” for parents / grandparents to watch.

        >(are) your national holidays celebrated in class

        Classes might put up a “Tanabata” tree with students wishes decorating it. But, generally speaking, nothing is done in Japanese schools for holidays (except in kindergarten and maybe elementary school).

      • tokyo5 July 24, 2014 at 8:17 am #

        What is done in your school on Valentines, Xmas, etc?

      • Kenzie Ely July 25, 2014 at 1:09 am #

        Here they celebrate every holiday in school on halloween we are allowed to wear costumes and also some states celebrate different holidays from other countries they may be close to. In Texas we can celebrate the day of the dead.

      • tokyo5 July 25, 2014 at 8:52 am #

        >celebrate every holiday

        Really? I don’t recall my high school in Florida (in the ’80s) doing anything special on holidays.

        >on halloween we are allowed to wear costumes

        Isn’t it distracting to study?

        > In Texas we can celebrate the day of the dead.

        That’s kinda “Halloween” in Mexico, isn’t it? How does your school celebrate it?

    • tokyo5 July 24, 2014 at 8:06 am #

      >in Japan do they have guards like police like they so often here?

      No. Schools in Japan don’t have security guards or campus police. I think Japanese people would be surprised to learn that American schools do.

    • tokyo5 July 24, 2014 at 8:08 am #

      > this helped my book alot

      What kind of book are you writing?

      • Kenzie Ely July 25, 2014 at 1:04 am #

        I write adventure novels and this one akes place inmodern day japan.

      • tokyo5 July 25, 2014 at 8:47 am #

        >I write adventure novels and this one akes place inmodern day japan.

        Oh really! Great!
        Have you been to Japan before?

        Is your writing online where it can be read?

      • Kenzie Ely July 26, 2014 at 9:54 am #

        No I haven’t and this book is not yet.

      • tokyo5 July 26, 2014 at 10:53 am #

        I’d like to read it when it’s ready!

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