Tag Archives: 中学校

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.

New school year

8 Apr

Yesterday both my oldest and my youngest daughters had their 入学式 (School Entrance Ceremony).
My oldest daughter began 高等学校 (High School (10th grade)) and my youngest daughter began 中学校 (Junior High School (7th grade)).
(My second daughter is now a 中学校三年生 (Jr. High 9th grader)…her last year of 中学校 (Junior High School)).

Since two of my daughters had their 入学式 (School Entrance Ceremonies) on the same day, my wife went with our youngest daughter and I went with our oldest daughter.

I can’t believe how fast they’re growing up!

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On a different note, here are a few photos that I meant to add to my blog before but never got around to it. Taken from various places around Tokyo at various times this past year:

Tokyo Tower illuminated for New Years 2009.

Tokyo Tower illuminated for New Years 2009.

Tokyo Tower illuminated with "2009" for New Years.

Tokyo Tower illuminated with "2009" for New Years.

An extremely large doll display for ひな祭 (Doll Festival).

An extremely large doll display for ひな祭 (Doll Festival).

Over a hundred of Torii Gates at 根津神社 (Nezu Shrine).

Over a hundred of Torii Gates at 根津神社 (Nezu Shrine).

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About twelve days ago at 六本木ヒルズ (Roppongi Hills), an artist named Yanobe Kenji displayed his 7.2 meter (23.6 feet) tall robot called “Giant Torayan“.

He bills Giant Torayan as

…the ultimate child’s weapon, as it sings, dances, breathes fire, and follows only those orders given by children.

The fire-breathing "Giant Torayan".

The fire-breathing "Giant Torayan".

Click here to visit the “Giant Toryan” website.

ウォーキング大会

17 Jan

Every year at this time, our town has a ウォーキング大会 (Walking Rally).

It’s organized by the local 小学校 (Elementary Schools) PTAs and it’s open to everyone in the town to meet and walk around the river for a morning of socializing and exercise. It’s especially popular with the elderly and the children who attend the 小学校 (Elementary Schools) and their families.

I’m on the PTA of my youngest daughter’s 小学校 (Elementary School).
She’s in sixth grade at 小学校 (Elementary School)…this April she’ll begin 中学校 (Junior High). (And my oldest will begin 高等学校 (High School)).

Since I’m on the PTA, I helped with the ウォーキング大会 (Walking Rally).
I’ve joined this ウォーキング大会 (Walking Rally) a couple times before…but this was the first time I joined it as part of the organizers.

There are two courses. A 3 meter course and a 5 meter course. My daughter’s school’s PTA helped with the shorter 3 meter course. So, that’s the course I did. My daughter and her friends walked the 5 meter course.

The event started at 10:00. The start-point was at an Elementary School near the river (not my daughter’s school).
I and the other PTA members got there at 9:30 to set-up and welcome people when they came. At 10:00, the school principal gave a welcome speech and then the gym coach led us in warm-up exercise…then the people doing the 5 meter course left first. The rest of us waited about ten minutes to give them a head-start so that we could all finish around the same time.

We began our walk at about 10:30 and finished at about 11:30. It was a very relaxed pace because, as I said, there were many elderly people and young children. It was enjoyable.

I walked at the rear of the group to make sure everyone was fine. I, as well as the other PTA members, wore a PTA armband.
An old woman walked next to me and told me all about a trip she took to America many years ago.

Once we all got back to the 小学校 (Elementary School), we were handed a ticket with a number on it for a lottery-type game.
There were twenty prizes and random numbers were drawn and called out by the 校長先生 (school principal). People with winning numbers on their ticket were given a prize.
I didn’t win anything…but my daughter won a box of cookies.

Next year I won’t be on the PTA anymore…but I may join in the ウォーキング大会 (Walking Rally) again.

運動会

29 Sep

Yesterday was my youngest daughter’s 運動会 (Sports Day event) at her school.
She’s in the sixth grade (which, in Japan, is the highest grade in 小学校 (Elementary school)), so this was the last Elementary school 運動会 (Sports Day event) for my kids.

運動会 (Sports Day events) are usually held from kindergarten to high school in Japan in September or October…but my oldest two daughters had their 中学校 (Junior High School) 運動会 (Sports Day event) last June (it was the first of my kids’ 運動会 (Sports Day events) that I didn’t attend because it was held on a weekday due to rain on the original day it was scheduled. (Click here to read my post about it)).

運動会 (Sports Day events) at Japanese 保育園 (Nursery Schools), 幼稚園 (Pre-schools) and 小学校 (Elementary schools) usually are decorated with strings of world flags hung over the school yard (中学校 (Jr High) and 高等学校 (High School) usually don’t decorate this way for their events).

My daughter played the trombone in the marching band for the commencement of the 運動会 (Sports Day event), and she ran in a couple races and other events during the day. As they usually do, the 運動会 (Sports Day event) started at 9:00AM and went until noon and we stopped for lunch (my wife and daughters had prepared an excellent lunch for us) and after lunch, the games re-started and the 運動会 (Sports Day event) finished at about 3:30PM.

I participated in the PTA 綱引き (Tug-Of-War).

A long day. But, as always, alot of fun!

This was the last 運動会 (Sports Day event) at the 小学校 (Elementary School)…next year, my youngest two daughters will be in 中学校 (Junior High School) and the oldest will begin 高等学校 (High School)!

Rained out

1 Jun

Yesterday was supposed to by my oldest two daughters’ 運動会 (Sports Day) at their Junior High School, but it got postponed due to rain.

I knew it was forecast to rain today…but I hoped that the rain would hold off.

But now their Sports Day event will be held on Monday (June 2).

I’m not gonna be able to go and watch it because I have to work on Monday. Of course, I’ll watch the video of it that my wife will take.

This will be the first of any of my kids’ 運動会 (Sports Day Events) that I’ve ever missed since they were in 保育園 (Nursery School).

A 運動会 (Sports Day) is an annual event at Japanese schools from Nursery School / Pre-school until High School. It’s often held in October to coincide with the Japanese holiday 体育の日(Sports / Exercise Day), (See my FAQ page about this holiday), but will sometimes be held in other months (usually Spring or Autumn, though).

Pre-school, Elementary school, Junior High, and High school events are all different, of course. There are some similarities, as well.

They all start and end with speeches from the school principal and “warm-up” and “cool-down” stretching.

At all of them (even Nursery School), the school band performs and it’s a well choreographed event for the parents and grandparents who are in the audience with cameras and video-cameras.

At the Nursery School / Pre-school Sports Day Events, there are lots of dances, games and races…many of which involve “Parent and Child” teams.

From Elementary School on, the events are more “conventional” team events with no “Parent / Child” teams anymore (the parents, though, can participate in a “Parents tug-of-war” event. I always participate in that every year…except this one 😦 ).

The kids in Junior High run really fast! When my oldest first started Junior High, I was surprised how fast the kids run the races at the Sports Day. I can imagine what they’re like in High School!

You can always tell when a school in Japan is getting ready for 運動会 (Sports Day)…Japanese Nursery Schools and Elementary Schools put up strings of flags of the world. It’s a Japanese Sports Day decoration like pumpkins at Halloween.

Also, from Elementary School on, some of the students design and paint giant banners for their class’ “team” flag.

This year, both of my two oldest daughters helped paint their respective class banners…and my second daughter is the person who designed her class’ banner herself!

I was really looking forward to seeing their artwork.

Anyways…I’m really disappointed that it rained today and I missed my daughters’ Sports Day, but I look forward to seeing the video of it on Monday. 🙂