First of all, it is worth to note that the term “education” in Japan is quite unusual in its meaning. For the Japanese, the meaning “education” includes not just getting qualification or certificate about graduating educational institution. This term in the Japanese language means both education and upbringing. Generally, each of these two concepts includes deep meaning behind and reflects the attitude of the Japanese to the system of the educational process in general. Besides of visiting educational institutions, education in Japan includes family culture and provides the access to public ethical standards and traditions.
It is not a secret that Japan is a unique country with a huge potential and a huge variety of customs. It concerns not only education but cuisine preferences, a unique system of training, and various high-tech projects. Of course, at the head of that, we can notice absolutely unique, independently and non-standard educational system which differs from the majority of systems in the modern world.
If you have ever asked yourself why education process in Japan deserves so much attention, then we can provide you with some interesting facts about it.
Individual numbers in Japanese schools
At the Japanese schools, you can notice a special system of individual numbers which consists of 4 figures. These numbers are dedicated to each pupil individually. The first two figures are the number of a class and the last two are your personal numbers which are assigned to you in your class. These numbers are used, for example, on cards in library, on bicycle stickers. Any classwork or test should be signed by your personal numbers as well.
A student cannot fail an exam
It sounds like a joke but it is a truth. Pupils in Japan are very lucky because such kind of privilege exists only in Japan. Do you remember what happens in other schools across the world if you fail an exam? Yes, it is quite undesirable situation or even some kind of nightmare for those who want to take a part in the graduation ceremony and to get a diploma. Even if a student fails all the tests, there is still an existing and real ability to take part at the graduation ceremony at the end of the year. But the results of tests matter when a student still wants to enter high school and university.
Japanese uniform and shoes
Students who study in high schools and middle schools in Japan have to adhere to the school system and to wear a special school uniform. It is worth to mention, that each school has its own. A school uniform is made individually for each student. As a rule, uniforms are divided into summer and winter versions. Moreover, there are several school rules concerning socks. Children can wear only white, black or dark blue socks. If a student wears, for example, brown socks, which is against school rules, then these socks are to be confiscated. The same concerns school bags (often bags are given to students along with the uniform) and sports uniform. There are several rules restricting boys from wearing long hair. The rules for girls are a little bit stricter: no painted nails, no colored and curly hair, no jewelry, and no makeup.
In Japan, all pupils have to wear the same indoor shoes. Usually, it is slippers or so-called “uwabaki» – school shoes resembling sports sneakers or ballet slippers with a lintel. It is strict requirements for indoor shoes, especially concerning a color of a sole: the sole should not leave any black marks on the floor. That is why most of “uwabaki” are white (sometimes decorated with color elements). The color of slippers depends on the class in which you are studying. Each class has its own color.
By the way, in elementary school, there are usually no uniforms. The exceptions are some panamas of certain colors and stickers on bags.
Every week the timetable at the Japanese schools is changing. It is always surprising for pupils and they are informed about new timetable only on Fridays. That is why it is difficult to foresee what lesson you will have on Monday.
The same meals for everyone
You do not have to worry that you will get hungry if you are studying in Japan. Each school has a nutritionist who monitors the healthy nutrition for students and creates a menu. But students can not interfere with the process and to choose a meal they want. Still, there are no restrictions concerning lunch boxes. As a rule, there is no cafeteria inside a school and you will have no choice but to eat what is served. The only exception is lunch boxes taken from home. However, you can eat homemade food only at certain places in the school. It is interesting to note that teachers eat together with pupils. This fact has a good effect both on teachers and students and the relationship between them.
Beginning of the year
The academic year in Japan starts in April, at the same time as the cherry blossom begins. For the Japanese, this is the beginning of a new life, so it is a perfect time to start studying! They have to study hard, because the next vacation begins only in 5 months, at the end of July. The main reason why it is so is the fact that July and August are very stuffy due high humidity. The next vacation begins from the end of December and lasts until the beginning of January. The studying process continues until March.
There are no cleaners
In Japan, schools do not use any cleaning services. Instead, pupils take rags and clean each corner of their classroom, as well as the toilets. The process of cleaning involves students, the stuff of this or that school, including even the vice principal and principal of the school. The time for cleaning is called “souji”. Before actual cleaning, everybody puts a specially created for cleaning “tenugui” on their heads. Often this process is accompanied by meditation and body preparation, which is called “mokuso”.
The longest school day
The school day in Japan begins at 8.45 am and includes 6-7 lessons (the seventh for those who attend additional classes). The length of lessons is 50 minutes. It means classes end at around 16.00 pm and then students are able to attend various sections and school clubs. Sections are divided into sports and art, and their diversity is one of the hallmarks of the school’s wealth. There is a big choice of sports activities, starting from tennis, swimming, and baseball, to golf, kendo and curling. Members of sports clubs are also able to take part in some club activities held every day, both before and after school. They get up very early and come home quite late, that is why they have nearly no rest and frequently and feel tired and sleepy.