School life  学校生活 (gakko seikatsu)

Image by: © Olivia Braddock


The school year starts in April and ends in March.  Each April, entrance ceremonies are held to signify the start of another new school year.  Around this time it is the Cherry Blossom season, so the flowers are seen as a symbol for new beginnings and a new start.

High schools normally have summer and winter uniform to cater for the climate but some schools do not have uniform. A traditional uniform for girls is based on what sailors wore. There is a recent trend for students who go to non-uniform schools to wear clothes like uniform. This is known as Nanchatte Seifuku. 

School Shoes!

School shoes (Image by © Mr. Shigemi Matsunaga)

A very different aspect of Japanese school life is that students change their outside shoes to their inside shoes when they enter the school building. This is a typical entrance hall of a school. Every student is assigned a shoe box which is divided in two, one shelf for indoor and the other one for outdoor shoes to keep them separate and clean.

Although English is not compulsory, almost all students learn it along with standard subjects such as history and geography.  Apart from music, art, science subjects or PE where it is necessary for lessons to be in a special classroom or field/gym, lessons take place in the form room.  The students are expected to clean their classroom and other school premises such as the corridors in turn at the end of the day.

Extra curricular activities
Extra curricular activities are very popular, and a very big part of school life, so that at some schools it is compulsory to be involved with one. Clubs include traditional martial arts clubs such as Kendo or Judo, to more creative ones such as Manga, calligraphy and learning the art of performing a tea ceremony. Many clubs take “training” trips during the summer holidays known as gashuku. Baseball and football are very popular in Japan. There are national baseball tournaments for High School Students, one in spring and a summer one which is known as Koushien.

School festivals are very big in Japan.  Lots of schools have events called Bunkasai (literary culture festival) around 3rd November each year, as it is Culture Day and also a national holiday in Japan.  This is where classes and school clubs can show off their talents and achievements. Sometimes the festival lasts for more than one day. 

Dance display

School stalls

Images by © Mr. Shigemi Matsunaga

School lunch (Kyuushoku  給食)

At primary school, school lunch or kyuushoku is prepared at school and children in turn become ‘dinner ladies’.  At senior school level, some schools have school canteens and at schools without canteens, the students bring a lunch box called Bento.

Serving School Dinner (Photo by: © Mr. Shigemi Matsunaga)

Q. Can you guess the top 3 school lunches which children like?
 A. Curry and rice, Spaghetti and a Hamburger steak. 

School Dinner (Photo by: © Mr. Shigemi Matsunaga)

Lunch time in Japan is normally at 12 to 1.  Tea time is at 3 in the afternoon and called Oyatsu (old counting of time of 8 which is between 2 and 4 in the afternoon) or Osanji (sanji (3時―means exactly 3pm)

Cleaning of classroom and other school buildings
Yes, the Japanese students clean the school after the lessons in turn.  It is regarded as educational.  As you change from your outside shoes to inside shoes and the students themselves have to clean the school, litter is not found on the floor!  Isn’t it a good idea to introduce the same to U.K. schools?
Yes, it is true that they clean toilets as well!

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