With spring comes the season for goodbyes and hellos. Unlike schools in the United States, Japanese schools operate differently starting from the very beginning. In this issue, we would like to discuss some of the unique aspects of schools in Japan.
The first school Japanese children encounter is the youchien. A youchien is kindergarten, and children usually start when they are 2-3 years old. Youchien is also may be connected to an elementary school which many attend after the 2-3 year program.
Elementary schools in Japan require back packs called randoseru, made out of leather to last through six years of elementary school. Girls usually carry a red or pink randoseru while boys carry a navy or black color. Children learn how to play a musical instrument such as the pianika and learn how to swim during the summer season.
During junior high and high school, students usually participate in club activities. Club activities can be anything from band, English, to archery. Club activities are very serious to the students and many of them stick with the same activity for the full three years.
Another characteristic of schools in Japan that comes to mind, are the entrance exams. Before leaving junior high and high school (those who plan to attend university), students take an exam which will decide what school they will go to the following year. Most students start studying almost a year before these exams.
March is graduation for many students. But in April, they will start off an exciting, new life at a new school.