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Top 5 Things You Should Know About Japanese Schools

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden

Put on your uniform, it’s time to go to school. From activities, to restrictions and rules, here are some little known facts about schooling in Japan. WatchMojo counts down the Top 5 Things You Should Know About Japanese Schools.

Special thanks to our user Sumita Kapuri for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+facts+about+japanese+schools.

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Script written by Garrett Alden

Top 5 Things You Should Know About Japanese Schools


Put on your uniform, it’s time to go to school. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 5 Things You Should Know About Japanese Schools.

For this list, we’ll be looking at 5 of the most interesting facts about Japanese schools.

#5: Dress Code

Western schools have some dress requirements, but Japanese schools are generally far more rigid in their requirements for their students’ appearances. Beginning with junior high, students must wear uniforms with ties - not unlike the style often seen in various anime. However, the regulations don’t stop with clothes. Backpacks and indoor shoes are also frequently the same across the board and there are even restrictions on makeup and hairstyles. Yes, in Japanese schools, conformity becomes king as kids grow up - although universities are generally more relaxed.


#4: There Are No Janitors

Janitors, custodians, and groundskeepers may be staples in other parts of the world, but in Japan, such roles aren’t needed at schools. Rather, students, teachers, and other staff all participate in the upkeep of the school and its cleanliness. Designated areas are assigned to each person and time is made every day for cleaning, in a period known as “souji”. Most participants also don bandanas. The purpose of the practice, besides saving the school money by not having to hire cleaning staff, is to teach the students personal responsibility and to prepare them for the working world.


#3: Club Activities

Clubs are a part of school life worldwide, but Japan takes them a bit more seriously than most countries. In junior high and high school, nearly all students join an after school team or club. These can range from the usual athletic endeavors, to clubs devoted to upholding the ethics of the school, to simple enthusiasm for a shared interest, such as astronomy or bug collecting. Participation in club activities is more involved than elsewhere as well, as it often continues even when school is not in session, such as on summer break.


#2: Students Can’t Fail a Grade

In other countries, students who do not do well in school get held back a year or else must attend summer school to make up for their failing grade. In Japan though, students advance to the next year automatically, no matter how well they did on tests or if they skip classes. While this may sound like an easy ride, there’s a black cloud to this silver lining. Firstly, social and parental pressures are high enough that this is an uncommon occurrence anyway. In addition, test scores are still important when taking entrance exams to get into a good high school (yes, high school!) and/or college.


#1: School Year

Japanese schools don’t follow the same school year as their counterparts in the West. They don’t even start at the beginning of the calendar year – rather, Japan’s school year begins in April and ends in March. However, the differences don’t stop there! While Japan does have a summer break, it’s about half as long as in countries like America, and students still have homework and club activities to do during their “time off.” There are also fewer holidays and breaks than outsiders might be accustomed to. Despite how little free time the students have, teachers have even less, since, barring national holidays, they get almost no time off.


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