10 observations about schools in Japan

Started this because of the Bakemonogatari CD (see point no. 2), and also partially because of some misperceptions I keep seeing on other blogs and on AS.

Admittedly, these were on the road leading up to the school, rather than at the front of the school itself...

(1) Most schools have a sakura tree at the front of their school, because it’s beautiful and perhaps inspiring for students to walk through the floating petals at the start of the school year (April). The only places that might not are Hokkaido and Okinawa, whose flowering seasons are completely off. In fact, my school in Okinawa doesn’t have a sakura tree at the front – though it has a few in a small rear garden.

(2) The idea that anyone and everyone can get onto the school roof – as often seen in dramas and anime/manga – is a myth. Even Nishio Ishin said so (see Bakemonogatari Drama CD track 56).

(3) For some reason, a lot of high schools in anime/manga/dramas seem to have just 4 classes per year level. Maybe that’s true in some prefectures, and I’d imagine there’d be even fewer students at some rural schools. However, most high schools in Okinawa have at least 8 classes per year.

(4) Club activities for most clubs (sporting and music) take place everyday. The big sports (esp. baseball and basketball) have training almost all year round – the baseball coach at my school once told me he was at school all but 3 days of the year! As you can probably guess, unlike in Australia and possibly the US, students play just one sport all year around.

(5) Students keep playing sports only until the summer of their third year, when the prefectural tournaments are held, followed by the national tournaments like Koushien (baseball).

(6) Third years then spend the rest of the year studying for university entrance exams, which take place in January/February. Students first have to sit a nation-wide test known as the “Center Test”, and the score they obtain will determine whether they can sit the exams for the various universities, like Tokyo Uni. (see Dragonzakura)

(7) Some students will get into university by recommendation (from one’s high school) or through the university administrations office (by uni selection criteria, typically with regards to character etc).

(8) A number of students, of course, don’t head to uni, but to vocational schools or work (e.g., Uchi in Gokusen, or Tomoya in CLANNAD After Story)

(9) In public schools, students are fully responsibly for keeping the school clean – they are assigned to sweep/mop/otherwise tidy up various locations for about 15 minutes every day. They even have to completely clear their classrooms and wax the floors once every year.

(10) The ‘yearly’ school festival typically operates on a 3-year rotation between school festival (学園祭), cultural festival (文化祭) and sports festival (体育祭). For some reason, we seldom see the sports festival in anime or dramas…

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

One Response to 10 observations about schools in Japan

  1. Pingback: Catching up on Chihayafuru: Poems 161-165 | HOT CHOCOLATE IN A BOWL

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