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 (college).

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 around September and ends in June. 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) 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 (equal to grades 7-9)), and 高等学校 (high school) is also three years (grades 高校 1-3 (equal to grades 10-12)).

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.

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

  1. Anonymous April 21, 2016 at 7:10 am #

    Some of these people are quite ungrateful and rude. I think you did a good job informing us tokyo5. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tokyo5 April 21, 2016 at 8:35 am #

      >Some of these people are quite ungrateful and rude.

      I don’t mind. Doesn’t faze me. I appreciate all comments on my blog.

      >I think you did a good job informing us

      Thank you.

      Like

  2. Anonymous March 19, 2016 at 5:10 am #

    Well, it’s not what I would call very minor details… it’s the truth about the system. Either way, you were definitely inaccurate about what time we get out of school: It’s pretty much always June, it can’t go into July, in nearly every region. So that is, by definition, an incorrect assumption, not a simple minor detail. It’s a MAJOR detail, if that’s what you were implying, and seriously incorrect. No offense, by the way. People always disagree with me… it’s annoying.

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 19, 2016 at 9:19 am #

      I didn’t make any “assumptions” in this post either … I only wrote what I know.
      But you’re right, I should’ve written that the summer holiday at the schools I attended in Florida began in June every year. I don’t know why I wrote “July”… mistyped, I guess.

      Thanks for pointing it out.
      I’ll change it ASAP (I changed it).

      Like

    • Maya Cotton March 31, 2016 at 9:14 am #

      Interesting……. for the last 2 years not counting this one, Iv’e gotten out of school in early July, as in the first day. I guess it is just the region or where you live.

      Like

      • tokyo5 March 31, 2016 at 9:33 am #

        Oh, really? What part of America do you live in?

        Like

  3. Anonymous March 18, 2016 at 9:59 am #

    Inaccurate. Here in the United States we tend to have 2 and a half months of summer vacation to almost 3 months, at least in the north. This is longer than 10 weeks, around 12, typically. You implied a 2x ratio to Japan having five weeks. Also, we get out of school early to mid JUNE, depending on the number of snow days. And we usually get out of school very late August, persay the 27th.

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 18, 2016 at 10:19 am #

      >Inaccurate.

      Thank you for clarifying…but I wouldn’t say what I wrote above is “inaccurate“…I wrote about America’s school system in generalities – based on my experience growing up in Florida.

      Also, your corrections are to minor details, not inaccuracies.

      Like

      • anonymous March 23, 2016 at 12:52 pm #

        “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.)” is a HUGE generalization that is inaccurate nowadays as it is now 2016. To say that all of the huge expanse that is America has the same system from the 80’s an egregious declaration. As a future educator who is aware of the school system of both America and Japan (from this century as I have been through it) I recommend looking elsewhere for information if you aren’t interested in what happened in the 80’s.

        Like

      • tokyo5 March 23, 2016 at 2:29 pm #

        Are you the same “Anonymous” who wrote these comments?

        >a HUGE generalization

        It’s a generalization (as I’ve said a few times that this post is), but not really a “huge” one.

        >inaccurate nowadays as it is now 2016.

        Other than my minor mistake where I said that summer vacation begins in July in American schools (when it’s actually June), what else that I’ve written is “inaccuate”?

        >To say that all of…America has the same system…(is) an egregious declaration.

        The U.S. school system should be the same throughout the country, with the curriculum decided on a federal level. That’s how it is in Japan.

        Anyways, I didn’t say that “all of…America has the same system”. I said that “I guess they aren’t too different”. I acknowledged that it’s not exactly the same, but I believe that there are generalities, and those are what I wrote about.
        No “declarations”, and certainly not any “egregious” ones!

        >As a future educator who is aware of the school system of both America and Japan

        You attended school in both America and Japan? Please elaborate. And please explain the differences between the systems as you see them.

        >from this century

        Hahaha! The ’80s weren’t that long ago, and I’m not that old, ya whippersnapper!😉

        > I recommend looking elsewhere for information

        By all means. I never claimed that this blog post was anything other than my opinion (of which, you haven’t convinced me is incorrect.)

        Like

  4. patricia March 7, 2016 at 7:37 am #

    congratulations

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 7, 2016 at 8:14 am #

      “Congratulations”? For what? Anyways…thanks.

      Like

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