AsiaMag | Japan Culture : High Schools

Japan Culture : High Schools

If you’re a manga or anime fan, you’ve certainly seen a lot about the life of high school student. But have you ever wondered what is really happening in a Japanese high school?

In Japanese, the school is called ‘koko’ (高校) and these institutions are very different from those of Occident. Although more and more high schools are mixed, there are still high schools for girls and boys.

University entrance exams are very difficult in Japan: high school students have to go to evening classes at test schools if they want to join a good university. The students in the final year in Japan are under a lot of pressure because of these many evening classes and the stress of the universities which are very selective.

The scoring system is quite special, it is actually a percentage (the overall score is calculated on a 100 basis) based on several criteria. All subjects are compulsory: Japanese, Maths, English, Science, History, Economics, Geography, Sport and Art. The competitive spirit is strong. He dominates the Japanese school and influences many mentalities. After each exam, the results are displayed in the classes. The names appear according to the score obtained (from best to worst). Despite this, the atmosphere in class, is very cordial and warm.

The school in Japan starts in April. The year is divided into three quarters (April-July / September-December / January-March). The main holidays take place in August and last about a month. Other holidays are scheduled between each quarter, Christmas (15 days), and the end of the school year (3 weeks).

Classes usually begin at 8:30 am and end at 3:30 pm, Monday to Friday, as well as 2 Saturdays a month. Classes last 50 minutes and are interrupted by five-minute breaks. The scheduled lunch break is 35 minutes. Most students live far from their school and sometimes have 1 to 2 hours of transportation. At noon, no students come home to eat, all eat on site a ‘bento’ or cafeteria. After the last afternoon class, students designated in turn must clean the classroom. Then the activities in the clubs begin.

In fact, clubs play a very important role in the lives of Japanese students. Many high schools force their students to join a club. There are two types: sports clubs and cultural clubs (photography, tea ceremony, art, cooking, etc.). Clubs take a lot of time, even during weekends or holidays.

Many other events animate the life of Japanese high school students, including sports festivals and cultural festivals. During these, each class must organize to prepare an activity: a play, a dance, a show …

Japanese high schools impose a uniform on their students. Generally, hair dyes, jewelry or makeup are strictly prohibited. Concerning the uniforms, the students have in principle three of them: the winter uniform, the summer uniform, and the tracksuit of sport which they will carry during physical education. In sports classes, boys and girls are separated and practice different sports.

What do you think, would you like to go to school in Japan?