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.

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

  1. Sebastian February 2, 2016 at 4:37 am #

    wow this really interested me, I’m currently a college student in the state of florida, and my father lived in Tokyo for a few years. I would love to learn more about japan and maybe even get to visit one day

    Like

    • tokyo5 February 2, 2016 at 8:31 am #

      What part of Florida are you in?
      When / why was your father in Tokyo?
      (I’m just curious).

      >I would love to…visit (Japan) one day

      You should visit Japan if you get a chance to!

      Like

      • Sebastian February 4, 2016 at 10:01 pm #

        Hollywood, FL
        My dad was in Tokyo around the late 80’s and I don’t remember that much but he was part of some blender company (appliances).
        I always have loved the futuristic stuff they have in Japan and the food looks wild, especially the stuff you find in vending machines.

        Liked by 1 person

      • tokyo5 February 4, 2016 at 11:45 pm #

        Oh, interesting! I’ve never been to Hollywood, Florida (I have visited Hollywood, California before, though). It’s in the south-eastern part of the state, isn’t it? Near the Atlantic Ocean. I grew up in the west-central part. Between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

        Like

  2. Anonymous January 21, 2016 at 1:12 pm #

    I think you are right about schools in japan. But it’s actually kinda hard for me to say I’ve never been educated in a school out side of America, But by the sounds of it I think it would have been better to have been educated in the Japanese school systems.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tokyo5 January 21, 2016 at 1:28 pm #

      What part of America are you from?

      Like

  3. honey-pie January 17, 2016 at 11:35 pm #

    This article was very helpful, thanks for writing it! I guess that even if it’s from 2010 things mustn’t have changed that much, right? also, I was actually persuaded of the fact that Japanese students had more than 5 weeks of holidays during the summer! glad of having learned something~

    Like

    • tokyo5 January 18, 2016 at 8:57 am #

      Thank you for your comment.

      > Japanese students had more than 5 weeks of holidays during the summer!

      Yes, but summer vacation in American schools is longer. Japanese students have homework to do during summer vacation, and from junior high, they come to school for their “after-school club” (baseball team, brass band, etc) practice.

      Like

  4. Anonymous (from Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA) January 15, 2016 at 4:53 am #

    bit*h bit*h bit*h go f**k your self

    Like

    • tokyo5 January 15, 2016 at 7:54 am #

      So eloquently stated! Thanks for writing such a well-thought-out critique, not once, but twice on the same post.

      I’ll assume (since you didn’t write a “real” comment) that you disagree with my opinion that the Japanese school system is superior to the U.S. one…and you express your difference of opinion with only a short insult without proper punctuation.

      Your IP address indicates that you’re from Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA. So, I’ll further assume that you were educated in the U.S. school system…how ironic that your comment actually (unintentionally) argues for my point rather than against it!

      Thanks.

      Like

  5. Marnell October 6, 2015 at 3:31 pm #

    I normally don’t comment on blogs, but I felt compelled to reply after seeing so many interesting comments! I only read through around a third of them, but I feel like I could offer a bit of a different perspective that would shed a bit more light on the situation.

    For the people who said the school you go to in America makes a big difference, that is 100% true. I had been in Christian schools my entire life up until I went to college. I went to a Christian school for pre-kindergarden and kindergarden, a private Catholic school for elementary school (grades 1-8), and then I went to a private all-boys college prep school for high school (grades 9-12). I went to school in Philadelphia. I had a graduation for both kindergarden, 8th grade, and 12th grade.

    What you say about your kids learning a lot more than you I think is more to do with the progression of generations rather than the Japanese schools being implicitly better than American schools. Throughout all of my school years, whenever my parents would look at my homework assignments, they would ALWAYS tell me that they never learned such things in school, or at least not as such an early age. From my other friends who were in school with me, their parents would make similar comments, and thus, it would be difficult for the parents to help the kids with their homework without the parents having to study the information themselves.

    My friends who originally came from public schools and then began attending my school always said that the information we were learning would not be taught until one or two grades later in the public schools they came from. They often commented that they felt like they never learned much in the public schools and furthermore, that the teachers in the public schools didn’t care much either. (This is not to say that all public school teachers don’t care, but this was just their experience compared to the Catholic schools.)

    In our classes, participation was encouraged. It was routine for us to ask the teacher questions. We were supposed to interact with the material we were learning so that we could think critically about it, seeing how it applied in our everyday lives and related to other things we learned. The participation was actually everyone’s favorite part of the class because the conversations brought up lots of interesting points that directly applied to us rather than the dry way that textbooks often present information. It naturally sparked our curiosity.

    In my high school, we had regular classes in addition to honors and AP courses that you could take if you wanted to move at an accelerated pace. Since it focused on a classical education system, we also had to take a modern language, a classical language (Greek or Latin), and theology classes, in addition to all of the regular classes. Being a Christian school, we were required to do community work too in order to graduate. If I remember correctly, by the time you graduated, you had to fulfill 80 hours of community service work. We also had many clubs, similar to what it sounds like you have in Japanese schools. Although classes ended each day at 2:40, it was common for most kids to still be at school doing extracurricular activities up until 6pm.

    And since someone mentioned it, I feel I would also add that on our report cards, especially in elementary school, we were graded not just on your academic performance, but also on your behavior. I think this was due to the fact it was a Christian school. We talked a lot about proper behavior and social dynamics in our religion classes. You could not pass to the next grade unless you received satisfactory marks on your behavior. You were also graded in a number of areas on your behavior, including how you behave in the classroom and how you treat others. Since we were graded quarterly, it was easy for parents and teachers to track progress over time.

    In elementary school as well as in high school, we had to give presentations in front of the class. This was normal.

    In elementary school, most of our papers we wrote were done by hand. In high school, however, our teachers normally required papers to be typed. You either typed them at home or typed it in the computer lab. (We had 2 computer labs with a total of around 80 computers altogether that had full internet connection and anything else you would need for doing work.) Each classroom was also equipped with a computer and projector, but this was normally only used if the teacher wanted to incorporate some type of multimedia material or if we were watching a movie.

    Whenever I looked at the work of my friends who went to public schools, it was far easier than what we did and didn’t require much thinking at all. This difference became especially apparent to me when I went to college. Even though many kids would be in the exact same class as me, the level of the students clearly was not equal. Those who went to private schools or very good public schools often found the work to be easy. Those students could write at a much higher level and just generally absorbed the information better than the other students. Those who came from average public schools were the ones that often struggled with the material. Now that I think of it, in some of my high school classes, we learned the exact same things we did in our college classes, but because they weren’t official AP classes, we didn’t get credit for it.

    Since the issue of cleaning up came up in several of the posts, I thought I’d mention that here now. Even though we had janitors at our schools, it was still our responsibility to take care of our building. In elementary school, the students were the ones who cleaned the chalkboard, cleaned the erasers, cleaned our desks, swept/vacuumed the floors, and just in general, kept the place neat and tidy. You were graded on your report card for your ability to be organized and clean. The only thing the janitor did was take out the trash and mop the floors in the classroom. The janitor mostly cared for the public places like hallways, bathrooms, and the cafeteria. But even in the cafeteria, we had to clean up after ourselves, otherwise, we got in trouble. The idea was very simple — you make a mess, you clean it up. Our teachers always impressed upon us the idea that the building was OURS and that if we didn’t take care of it, no one else would. So if you wanted a clean environment, you had to take care of it.

    In high school, it was similar, but because the building was much bigger and there were many more students (over 900 altogether), we had more janitors. The main thing you had to do was not destroy any property and clean up any personal mess you made (i.e. dispose of all trash properly, if you spill something, clean it up, etc.). Everything else like mopping, vacuuming, spraying down of desks, etc. was done by the maintenance people, but it’s not like we left that big of a mess for them to clean up in the first place.

    I have written much more than I intended to, so please forgive me if my ideas are a bit scattered, but I just had to share with you my positive experience I’ve had with schools here in the US. There are good schools and bad schools, good teachers and bad teachers all over the country here. I think it’s the job of the parents to research things a bit to make sure you’re putting your child into a good environment. I honestly believe you can find something similar to what you are experiencing in Japan if you just go to the right schools.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tokyo5 October 6, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

      Thank you for the long, detailed comment! It was interesting to read.
      It’s nice that you had a good school life and learned a lot. As you said, private and public schools are different.
      I attended public schools as a kid in America, and my kids also went to public schools here in Tokyo…so that’s what I was comparing in this post.

      But, it isn’t only the curriculum that I think is better at the schools my kids went to…but school life in general!
      But, regarding your comment on curriculum and younger generations learning more. My kids learned more than I learned in American schools…but I don’t think it’s a generational thing because whenever I’d mention that my kids were studying something more complex than what I learned at their age…my (Japanese) wife (who also went to public schools in Tokyo) was surprised.

      >I honestly believe you can find something similar to what you are experiencing in Japan if you just go to the right schools

      That’s another difference between Japan and America. In America, there are “poor”, “middle class” and “rich” neighborhoods, and the schools are better in the rich neighborhoods and inferior in the poor ones.
      In Japan, parents don’t have to search for a better school, they are all equally good.

      Like

      • Marnell October 7, 2015 at 2:31 am #

        That’s interesting regarding your wife’s experience. I will be teaching in Japan soon, so I will get to experience first hand the difference between the American school system and the Japanese school system. I’m really curious to see how it compares to my school experiences growing up.

        >That’s another difference between Japan and America. In America, there are “poor”, “middle class” and “rich” neighborhoods, and the schools are better in the rich neighborhoods and inferior in the poor ones.
        In Japan, parents don’t have to search for a better school, they are all equally good.

        Yes, that is a bit of an unfortunate thing here in America. But it’s not just a thing of “poor”, “middle class” and “rich” neighborhoods. It’s more to do with the school and school district itself. For instance, a lot of parents move to certain neighborhoods because it is known to have a good school district, even for the public schools. As a matter of fact, when I moved, that was one of the selling perks of many of the places I looked into — their school district.

        However, if you don’t live in one of those such school districts, your other options are to find specific schools that are good within your district or to just simply send your child to some type of private school like a Catholic school, charter school, or democratic school. (For what it’s worth, 75% of the kids in my elementary school were not Catholic — parents sent them there because they knew the school was safe and was a good school.) I grew up in a poor neighborhood, and that’s where my elementary school was located. The other schools that were near us (I mean just a few blocks away) were nothing like us and had many more problems. I think it goes back to the teachers (hiring teachers who care), setting high expectations of students, the attitudes of the students themselves towards education, and more importantly, the attitudes of the parents and those in the neighborhood towards education. Our parents at our schools took a very active role in our education — I didn’t see this as much out of kids who went to other schools that didn’t do as well. Parents picked up and dropped off their children everyday, and thus would speak with the teacher regularly, learning how the child was doing in class, if there was misbehavior, etc. At the end of the day, the teacher would not leave until they saw someone pick up every single one of the kids or at least knew how the kids were getting home. In my opinion, it’s this difference in attitude that affects education. From the Japanese people I talked to, I get the sense that as a whole, Japanese people take education more seriously and are more involved than what’s typically found here in American schools, at least in the average public school here.

        With my high school, the experience was similar too. Ironically, it was this big huge rich school in the middle of a poor neighborhood. The parents were always involved, partly because many of them went to the school themselves! At various functions that the school would have, including sporting events, I was always shocked to see just as many parents there as students. Are things in Japan similar to this?

        Also, this is something I took for granted because I assumed everyone did it (but they don’t), but at all of my schools, we would have fund raisers, food drives, and clothing drives several times per year. The food and clothing drives were always done in conjunctions with the drives the church attached to the school would have. This further solidified the idea of taking care of your community. Do Japanese schools have anything like this?

        Liked by 1 person

      • tokyo5 October 7, 2015 at 8:37 am #

        >I will be teaching in Japan soon

        Are you going to be an “ALT” at a public school in Japan? Elementary school? Junior High? Which city? Beginning next April (the start of the school year in Japan)?

        Can you speak Japanese?

        >I’m really curious to see how it compares to my school experiences growing up.

        I’m sure you’ll find it’s quite different! By all means, please tell me your impressions after you come to Japan!

        >a lot of parents (in America) move to certain neighborhoods because it is known to have a good school district

        It shouldn’t have to be that way! Families in Japan don’t have to research a school to find if it’s a good one…and they don’t need to relocate their families for their children’s primary education.

        >your other options are to find specific schools that are good within your district or to just simply send your child to some type of private school

        All of the schools should be equally good. And many people can’t afford a private school’s tuition.

        >charter school, or democratic school

        I don’t even know what those are!

        >75% of the kids in my elementary school were not Catholic

        Even if they’re not religious, they still must attend religious services if they go to that type of school, don’t they?

        >At various (American school) functions…just as many parents there as students. Are things in Japan similar to this?

        Yes, Japanese parents go their kids’ school events.

        >my schools…have fund raisers, food drives, and clothing drives several times per year…..Do Japanese schools have anything like this?

        Yes. But a bit differently, I think. Japanese school often do things such as have students bring recyclable goods (cans, plastic bottle caps, etc) to school and the money from recycling them goes to charities to help third-world countries.

        Like

      • Marnell October 7, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

        I couldn’t reply directly to your latest comment, so I’m replying here.

        >Are you going to be an “ALT” at a public school in Japan? Elementary school? Junior High? Which city? Beginning next April (the start of the school year in Japan)?

        I’m looking to teach at an Eikaiwa. I’ve moved along in the interviewing process with one in Matsusaka, but I think I might opt for another in Osaka — I’m not so certain I would fare well outside of a big city. Many of these are starting in November/December.

        >Can you speak Japanese?

        Fluently? By no means at all! I can work at a basic conversational level, and can somehow write and read quite a bit more than I can speak. (I studied Mandarin Chinese some years ago and thus knew a good deal of characters from that, so perhaps that’s what gives me a bit of a lop-sided approach to Japanese.)

        >I’m sure you’ll find it’s quite different! By all means, please tell me your impressions after you come to Japan!

        Will do!

        >It shouldn’t have to be that way! Families in Japan don’t have to research a school to find if it’s a good one…and they don’t need to relocate their families for their children’s primary education.

        >All of the schools should be equally good. And many people can’t afford a private school’s tuition.

        Yes, I do agree, it shouldn’t be that way, and I guess you can say that’s one advantage the Japanese school system has over the American school system. But with that said, if all Japanese schools are relatively the same, why do private schools exist in Japan?

        And yes, even here, some people can’t afford private school tuition, and thus, why there is sometimes a gap in the educational level of people. But, due to the way our society is structured here, I can definitely say that when you have to pay tuition for a school, it makes everyone take things more seriously. I think this is the reason the parents at my schools have been quite involved and why the teachers go out of their way to make sure the students are learning — they understand it’s expensive, and people don’t want to pay extra money for their child to have to repeat a grade. So it really works for the better in some ways. If the general attitudes towards school and education were already similar to how it is in Japan, then tuition wouldn’t affect how we view things very much. But, until we get to that point in America, for now, tuition helps.

        >>charter school, or democratic school

        >I don’t even know what those are!

        Charter schools are a type of private school here that set their own curriculum and operate independently, much like the Catholic schools here. The education provided there is normally better than public schools. The only difference is a charter school has no religious affiliation unlike the Catholic schools. So, if a parent has a problem with their child learning about Christianity, they can enroll them in a charter school.

        Democratic schools are a new type of school that have been around for several decades which focus on kids learning by their own natural curiosity rather than having a set curriculum where everyone does the same thing. Such schools include Montessori schools and Sudbury schools. There are actually some Sudbury schools in Japan! As much as I enjoyed my time in school, if I had to redo everything all over again, I would definitely do a democratic school because it caters to the way I learn. I’m the type of person who has always been able to teach myself. As long as I am given the appropriate resources, I can learn anything I need. And lots of things interest me too. Democratic schools cater to this perfectly. This is when learning becomes a joy rather than a chore. I’m very interested in seeing firsthand how Japanese schools go about keeping children motivated and sparking their own natural curiosity, as I feel this is something that most schools could do a better job at. My school did a decent job at this (depending on who the teacher was at the time), but I think overall, if it had been approached differently, they could have gotten even more out of our classroom time together and the work that we learned could have been even more meaningful.

        >>75% of the kids in my elementary school were not Catholic

        >Even if they’re not religious, they still must attend religious services if they go to that type of school, don’t they?

        Yes, but let me explain. Although most of the kids in my school were not Catholic, most were actually Christian. We actually even had someone who was Muslim in our classes! The parents were aware that we had to take religion classes as part of the curriculum and that we were being educated on the Catholic religion. So, for the kids who weren’t Catholic, when you got home, your parents would just say, “Ok, the Catholics might believe this, but this is what WE believe.” So it wasn’t that big of a problem. Being able to get a better education and being in a safe environment was far more important to the parents than some of the trivial differences between Catholics and other Christians. In the end, I think it was good because it gave me a better understanding of what others believe and why they do some of the things they do. As a matter of fact, in our religion classes, the teachers would freely talk to us about the differences between Catholicism and each of our own religions, so it built kind of a mutual understanding between everyone. This I see only as a good thing.

        As for religious services, after we say the pledge of allegiance in the morning, we begin each day with prayer. Then we pray again before lunch, after lunch, and then before we leave for the day. We had to memorize prayers (as part of our religion classes). In high school, we even had to memorize the prayers in Latin and Greek as part of our classical language classes!

        We only had to attend Mass once per month. This was Mass for the entire school, not a regular Sunday Mass. It would normally be held during the school day, on a Wednesday or Friday morning, and the students and faculty would be the only ones who usually attended. If there was something major the parent objected to regarding Mass, then they would let the teacher know and excuse the child for that part. For instance, non-Catholics don’t do the sign of the cross before starting a prayer, so we didn’t have to do that part. Non-catholics wouldn’t take Communion either, so we could be excused from that too.

        Aside from that, you didn’t have to go to any of the regular Masses or other events the church would have. You didn’t have to do confession or anything like that either.

        Like

      • tokyo5 October 7, 2015 at 11:54 pm #

        >I couldn’t reply directly to your latest comment, so I’m replying here.

        That’s the proper way to do it. I don’t want comment to continue to “nest” otherwise they become difficult to read.

        >I’m looking to teach at an Eikaiwa.

        Oh, so then you won’t actually see what the Japanese school system is like. An “eikaiwa” is a place for conversation English lesson lessons.

        >Matsusaka…(or) Osaka

        Kinda far from Tokyo, then.

        >Many of these are starting in November/December.

        Eikaiwa don’t have a “school year” like schools do. Students can start anytime…because they’re actually “customers”.

        >(Japanese at a) basic conversational level, and can somehow write and read quite a bit more than I can speak.

        Great! I didn’t know a single word of Japanese when I first came here.

        >if all Japanese schools are relatively the same, why do private schools exist in Japan?

        All “public” schools are pretty much equal…but “private” schools are more academically better. And…to enter a high school in Japan requires passing an entrance exam. Kids who don’t pass the entrance exam for a public high school often enroll in a private one.

        >in our religion classes

        “Religion class” sounds odd to me! I’m not used to it.

        >after we say the pledge of allegiance in the morning,

        We said the “Pledge of Allegiance” in my schools in Florida when I was a kid. But it’s been so long…and nothing like that is done in Japanese schools…so, thinking about it now, it almost seems surreal.It’s a kinda weird ritual.

        >we begin each day with prayer.

        What do kids who don’t want to “pray” do then? If it was me, I wouldn’t know what to do at a “prayer time”.

        Like

      • Marnell October 8, 2015 at 3:37 am #

        >Oh, so then you won’t actually see what the Japanese school system is like. An “eikaiwa” is a place for conversation English lesson lessons.

        Correct, I won’t be in the school system. But, I do think that despite that, I will still gain some understanding into how Japanese students are used to being taught and how they are used to receiving information. I don’t think it would be THAT different. I’m sure the approach to classroom behavior, classroom etiquette, and teaching styles would be similar to what Japanese students are used to.

        >Great! I didn’t know a single word of Japanese when I first came here.

        How long did it take before you actually felt comfortable using the language and operating in the language? I’m hoping that being in Japan for a year will greatly propel me towards fluency in the language.

        >“Religion class” sounds odd to me! I’m not used to it.

        I guess it can be odd for those who are not used to it, but it’s all I’ve ever known my entire life, haha. Actually, religion class tended to be one of the classes that students enjoyed the most and always generated the most discussion, because the topics were all things we could relate to on an everyday level, so everyone had something they could contribute to the discussion. We would learn about the Old Testament, New Testament, historical figures (such as various saints, popes, etc.), doctrine, morality and ethics, etc. It’s where we also learned how to deal with conflict, difficult people, illness, death, issues of respect and integrity, etc. Interestingly, our religion class would often have a lot of overlap with our history classes, since many of the events were influenced by religion.

        In high school, the religion classes got even more interesting. My high school’s purpose was to make us aware of what it was we believed in and why so that we could make conscious choices regarding our religious beliefs. So we had to learn about all the major religions of the world, including atheism. Part of the required reading for that class was “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse so that we could better understand how Buddhism came to be. We had to learn about all the alternative views of the Bible, including the views of skeptics. We had to learn about the history of the church as well as the history of the Bible. This one felt more like a history class than a religion class. It was more of an objective presentation of the changes that have occurred in the Church over the millennia. Then we had a class covering the official doctrine of the Catholic church, including controversies regarding those doctrines and problems with them. It was all very interesting material.

        It’s funny because if someone from the outside was looking in, it would make you think we were atheists because so many of the religious views and doctrines were being challenged on a variety of levels. We had an entire class on whether or not Jesus even existed, complete with evidence from a variety of sources that he might not have existed at all! And although this was not officially part of our “religion” classes, since we had to study classical languages, that also meant that we learned to translate New Testament texts directly from the Greek. When you directly translate these things yourself, it takes on an entirely new meaning, especially when you’ve also translated other non-religious texts from the language and saw how certain words and concepts were used in that era. (And yes, due to the classical language studies, we also learned about all the mythological gods and goddesses which normally a lot of Christians would be against, saying it’s pagan studies.) So after going through 12 years of religion classes, we came out with a better understanding of religion than the average church goer, and ironically, it’s the reason why I don’t affiliate with any religion to this day.

        Without my religion classes, though, I feel like a huge very important chunk of my education about the world would be missing.

        >What do kids who don’t want to “pray” do then? If it was me, I wouldn’t know what to do at a “prayer time”.

        Well, that situation never occurred, because if it was someone who was against prayer, the parents wouldn’t even enroll you into the school in the first place. If you objected to prayer, you would go to a school that was divorced from religion, so either a public school, a charter school, or one of the other types of schools out there.

        Like

      • tokyo5 October 8, 2015 at 10:14 am #

        >I do think that despite that, I will still gain some understanding into how Japanese students are used to being taught and how they are used to receiving information. I don’t think it would be THAT different.

        Maybe. Generally, Eikaiwa are more relaxed than school classrooms in terms of “rules”. But, for example, Japanese students don’t normally ask the teacher a question until classtime is over, and they can ask privately. You might see things like that.

        >I’m sure the approach to classroom behavior, classroom etiquette, and teaching styles would be similar to what Japanese students are used to.

        No. They’re pretty different. At least in schools.

        >How long did it take before you actually felt comfortable using the language and operating in the language?

        Well, my co-workers couldn’t speak English and had no interest in learning it. So, I was in a “sink-or-swim” situation…but if you work in an English conversation school, you’ll surely be speaking and reading a lot of English. If you want to learn Japanese, you’ll have to make an effort to talk with people outside of your workplace.

        >if someone from the outside was looking in, it would make you think we were atheists…it’s the reason why I don’t affiliate with any religion to this day.

        Seems counter-productive to the purpose of a religious school.

        >if it was someone who was against prayer, the parents wouldn’t even enroll you into the school

        Yeah, I suppose so.

        Like

      • Marnell October 8, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

        Thank you for the information about eikaiwa’s. I definitely do intend to spend a lot of time outside of the school interacting with the locals to improve my Japanese.

        >Seems counter-productive to the purpose of a religious school.

        Actually, in most of the theology schools here (at the university level), they learn many of the exact same things we did. It’s just to make you aware of your own religion and how you fit in compared to everyone else since it’s likely you’re going to run into others with different beliefs. That, in my opinion, is an important part of religion education that’s missing if you only just go to church.

        Liked by 1 person

      • tokyo5 October 8, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

        Thanks. Why did you decide to study Japanese? The “Eikaiwa” school isn’t paying for you to come to Japan, is it? Do you already have a date that you’re coming to Japan?

        Like

      • Marnell October 29, 2015 at 9:17 pm #

        > Why did you decide to study Japanese?

        I like the challenge of the Japanese language. According to the FSI, it’s supposed to be one of the hardest languages for a native English speaker to learn. I didn’t know this at the time when I first started studying it when I was 10 — I just knew something was difficult about it and just didn’t click naturally with me. For whatever reason, Chinese is also supposed to be a level 5 language, but Chinese just clicked in my mind. It’s the structure of Japanese sentences and the way they go about expressing ideas that is most difficult to me. So, you can say it’s a bit of a personal challenge — if I can overcome this one, then no language will ever present a hurdle to me. (It is truly the most difficult out of all the languages I’ve studied.)

        >The “Eikaiwa” school isn’t paying for you to come to Japan, is it?
        No.

        >Do you already have a date that you’re coming to Japan?
        Not a specific date yet. The position that looked like it was going to come through did not, so I’m looking into other schools now.

        Like

      • tokyo5 October 30, 2015 at 11:20 am #

        >> Why did you decide to study Japanese?

        I like the challenge of the Japanese language….if I can overcome this one, then no language will ever present a hurdle to me.

        Yeah, it’s quite different from English.
        Have you studied many languages?

        >Not a specific date yet. The position that looked like it was going to come through did not, so I’m looking into other schools now.

        Good luck.

        Like

  6. vali October 3, 2015 at 6:55 pm #

    Hello, I am writing a school-paper about Japan but I need to mention the name of the author of my sources, where can I find out who exactly wrote this?:)

    Like

    • tokyo5 October 3, 2015 at 8:17 pm #

      My apologies but I like to keep my blog anonymous.

      Like

      • vali October 4, 2015 at 1:18 am #

        I see, thank you for your reply. :)

        Like

      • tokyo5 October 4, 2015 at 8:18 am #

        Sorry. I’m a bit paranoid maybe. ;)

        Like

  7. jean September 6, 2015 at 5:06 am #

    it’s a little different in nyc

    Like

  8. Jake Ashton August 24, 2015 at 6:15 pm #

    Can someone familiar with Japanese schools tell me what social life is like there? What kind of uniform to boys where? I’m 13 and planning on being an exchange student when I turn 16…

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 24, 2015 at 6:55 pm #

      Are you going to attend a high school in Japan?
      Is it certain or just your dream?
      High schools in Japan have dress uniforms and P.E. uniforms … but they differ school to school. Additionally, Japanese public schools, private schools and international schools have different styles.

      Regarding social life… what are you thinking of, specifically?
      What is high school social life like in your country?

      Like

  9. 000001qwerty May 27, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

    hi i am qwerty
    the one who has been to japan and my friends told me to make a word press account so i did but i haven’t made any blog posts or anything what i like about Osaka was Osaka castle park that was my favourite

    Like

    • tokyo5 May 27, 2015 at 4:21 pm #

      > my friends told me to make a word press account so i did but i haven’t made any blog posts

      You shouldn’t start a blog until you’ve decided on at least the initial post and you’re ready to write something…in my opinion.

      >Osaka castle park

      Yeah, Osaka Castle is popular. It’s nice.
      Did you try Osaka food…such as Okonomiyaki?

      Like

  10. qwerty May 25, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

    こんにちは

    私の好きな​​スポーツはサッカーです
    ^is this right^

    now your turn to write in Japanese

    what other foods can you use chop sticks well for

    いいえ私は日本をよく話すことができません(sorry i cant write well in Japanese either)

    oh i thought that there actually was a last samurai

    have you been to Osaka it is my favourite place

    Like

    • tokyo5 May 25, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

      スポーツはあまり好きじゃない。趣味は映画 鑑賞です。

      Is that too difficult?
      It means: “I don’t like sports much. My hobby is watching movies.”

      What did you like about Osaka?

      Like

  11. qwerty May 24, 2015 at 5:34 pm #

    do you know about rourini kenshin i saw this movie about it and it was so cool
    i want to know more
    my favourite thing about japan is the samurai and their castles
    have you seen “the last samurai” the movie with tom cruise it was really good
    is all that true about him

    Like

    • tokyo5 May 24, 2015 at 7:39 pm #

      I think both Rouni Kenshin and The Last Samurai were fiction movies.

      Like

  12. qwerty May 24, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

    but you can scoop up with a fork

    whats the fun in the bean game if you don’t win anything

    nah i am in high school and yes i do study Japanese

    i am from Australia

    Ozzie Ozzie Ozzie Oy Oy Oy

    where are u from

    Like

    • tokyo5 May 24, 2015 at 7:36 pm #

      But it’s easier to eat rice (and a number of other foods) with chopsticks.

      Can you speak Japanese well? Feel free to write in Japanese.

      I’m from America.
      See my About Me page:
      https://tokyo5.wordpress.com/about/

      Like

  13. qwerty May 24, 2015 at 11:37 am #

    that is so cool it would be especially hard to do especially with chopsticks
    we play a game with chopsticks in our Japanese class where there are jelly beans in a bowl and we all sit in a circle one person is picked and holds the chopsticks while the others around pass some die around we take it in turns to roll while the person in the middle try to pick the jelly beans up and drops them into another bowl if we roll two sixes the person in the middle then swaps but is allowed to eat how ever many jelly beans they managed to pick up
    do you play games like these in japan

    Like

    • tokyo5 May 24, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

      Actually, it’s easier to pick a single grain of rice with chopsticks than with a fork!

      Sometimes people play a game to see who can pass the most beans (not jellybeans) from one plate to the next in 30 seconds.

      Do you study Japanese? College? What country are you from?

      Like

  14. qwerty May 24, 2015 at 9:55 am #

    that’s cool i also heard from somewhere is it true that the Japanese appreciate food so much they eat every piece of rice to respect the farmers work to plant it
    is this true

    Like

    • tokyo5 May 24, 2015 at 10:37 am #

      Yes, every grain of rice is eaten.

      I’ve been in Japan so long now, I also couldn’t imagine not eating it all.

      Like

  15. qwerty May 23, 2015 at 4:22 pm #

    what if they wont eat anything
    and are there actually classes for how to eat proper and polite
    we don’t have any here
    do you know about the Australian system of how primary schools high school and colleges work
    what foods is normally served at a Japanese school
    because if there was not a variety i would soon get bored of having the same things over and over again
    do you always have a uniform at a Japanese school and is there a summer uniform and a winter uniform
    we dont here

    Like

    • tokyo5 May 23, 2015 at 5:24 pm #

      Unless they have an actual allergy, students are expected to clean their plate everyday. If a kid refused to eat anything, they’d go hungry.

      And no … there are eating classes! I meant by being given a healthy meal everyday and being required to eat it all, kids learn to appreciate having food, how to eat healthy, and not be picky.
      And yes … there is a wide variety in the menu. More than I had in America, actually.

      Like

  16. qwerty May 22, 2015 at 7:42 pm #

    hey like this website it was cool but american schools scare me
    i live in australia and its better
    i wouldnt mind japanese schools only if they had a cafeteria with more range
    they are so polite in japan

    Like

    • tokyo5 May 22, 2015 at 7:57 pm #

      How are Australian schools better?

      As for lunch, I think it’s good that Japanese schools don’t give menu choices. Like home, kids eat what’s prepared. It’s not a restaurant.

      Like

      • qwerty May 23, 2015 at 10:24 am #

        well there is not much bullying
        we dont have the gun laws in australia and there is less fights/deaths in school

        >its not a restaurant

        that’s true but in Australia we have to buy food from the cafeteria
        is this the same with japan
        because i think i would rather spend my money on what i would eat

        Like

      • tokyo5 May 23, 2015 at 11:13 am #

        In Japanese schools, a monthly lunch fee is paid by the parents. Usually by automatic bank transfer.
        What the kids “want” to eat isn’t so important. School is for learning … including how to eat properly.

        Like

  17. Anonymous May 19, 2015 at 7:09 am #

    this website is horrible

    Like

    • tokyo5 May 19, 2015 at 8:24 am #

      >this website is horrible

      Thank you for the well thought-out comment! I especially like your use of irony with incorrect capitalization and punctuation!

      It’s too bad you didn’t include any examples of what you dislike about my blog (“website”) nor any suggestions for improvement!

      Sorry you were forced to read my “website”.

      Like

  18. kenzie May 6, 2015 at 10:08 pm #

    wow i really miss florida but its different in NC………………yeah there is bullys every where lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • tokyo5 May 7, 2015 at 8:53 am #

      Are you from Florida? Which part?
      Do you live in North Carolina now?

      I hope you don’t have bad experiences with bullies.

      Like

  19. Janie April 24, 2015 at 2:58 am #

    I didn’t know Japan schools where so diffrant then Americas

    Like

    • tokyo5 April 24, 2015 at 7:21 am #

      Not only the schools, but most things in Japan are different from other countries!

      Like

  20. GoldenManDragon April 21, 2015 at 7:55 am #

    Hay, tokyo5. What Japan schools would you think is good for high school? And what do you think is it good for someone who wants to learn how to read, wright, and speak Japanese, like maybe someone from America.

    Like

    • tokyo5 April 21, 2015 at 8:33 am #

      >What Japan schools would you think is good for high school? And what do you think is it good for someone who wants to learn how to read, wright, and speak Japanese, like maybe someone from America.

      Not exactly sure what you mean. Do you want to learn Japanese at a high school in Japan?
      To attend a regular Japanese public high school, you would already need to know the Japanese language fluently.
      But there are some “international” private schools for both foreign children in Japan who can’t speak Japanese, and Japanese who want to become fluent in English.
      Most of them have two types of English and Japanese language curriculum: for native English speakers and for Japanese students.

      Does that help?

      Like

  21. Samantha April 13, 2015 at 3:41 am #

    lol when was this written? there is kindergarten, first-fifth grade in elementary school AND graduation from fifth grade, three junior high years WITH graduation from eighth grade, four years in high school WITH graduation from twelfth grade, and you have a college graduation once you finish your last year there, and you can spend 1-4 years, it doesn’t matter when you stop going.

    Like

    • tokyo5 April 13, 2015 at 7:38 am #

      I wrote this blog post in July 2010. But that’s irrelevant because, as I mentioned in the post and a number of comments, this isn’t meant to be an up-to-date or comprehensive analyses of any school systems … rather, it’s a general comparison of the school system I was a student in in America and the one my children were in here in Japan.

      Are those public schools in America that have graduation ceremonies at every level? Or private schools?
      Even if American public schools now have graduation ceremonies for younger students too, it doesn’t change my general points.
      What are American kindergarten and elementary school graduation ceremonies like, I wonder. I bet they’re very different from Japanese ones!

      Like

  22. Anonymous (from Thailand) March 18, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

    Is it possible in the interhigh preliminaries and winter cup basketball tournamens, if some schools in japan’s basketball teams are lacking memebers for their girls basketball club, then can some girls participate in the interhigh and wintercup basketball tournaments with the boys clubs? This case has happened in america a few times, and no one has even complained about the gender issue

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 18, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

      I’m not an expert in sporting rules…but I don’t think that would be allowed here.

      Like

      • Anonymous (from Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA) January 15, 2016 at 4:52 am #

        f**k you all

        Like

      • tokyo5 January 15, 2016 at 7:51 am #

        Who are you referring to by “you all”?
        Actually, it doesn’t matter. No one cares about your opinion!

        Like

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