Let’s look into Japanese school life!! ~Elementary to high school~

日本の学校(がっこう)生活: Japanese School Life

Japanese article is here; https://japaneselanguagesalonbymikapanda.com/lets-look-into-japanese-school-life-707

At first

Hello, this is MIKA!

It’s already in April, how are you doing?

In Japan, our new business year has started by this mounth.

On first April, each company has held the initiation ceremony, and all of elementary, junior-high, high schools and universities in Japan will hold the entrance ceremony in this week.

Anyway, do you know how about the school life in Japan?

I think it’s interesting because there is a lot of difference between Japan and your country.

Also it’s helpful to enjoy reading Japanese school comic, so read it at once!

Japanese educational system

Japanese children enroll in local elementary school in April of the year when they will be 6 years old. In the case of private school, they have to pass the entrance exam.

After attending an elementary school for 6 years, they enroll in a local junior-high school. Because this 9 years is a compulsory education in Japan, they can work after graduating a junior-high school.

However, most junior-high school students study to pass the entrance exam of high school and enter. There are many high schools which they can study some kinds of particular fields like industry or agriculture.

After their 3-years high school life, most of them enter college. Others go to professional schools or junior colleges, or start to work.

An elementary school

At first, I’ll tell you about Japanese elementary school life.

To attend with “Randsel”, a special school bag

Students in pablic elementary schools attend by walking with their plain clothes. Then, they put their textbooks, notebooks and something into their “Randsel”, a special school bag for them.

The model of “Randsel” was “Ransel”, the backpack came from Netherlands in Edo era(1603~1868). “Randsel” has been corrupted form of “Ransel”.

The reason why we’ve introduced “Randsel” is the elementary school of “Gakusyu-in” thought it was bad to drag the difference of student’s home environment into the school.

To change their shoes to indoor shoes

The fact that Japanese never enter to their home with outdoor shoes has been widly known around the world under Covid-19 pandemic. However, we change our shoes not only at the entrance of our home but also schools!

That’s why children have to take off and put their shoes into their shoes box and put on “Uwabaki”, the indoor shoes for school. Junior-high and high school students also do that.

They study in each classrooms


In Japan, each school years are organized with some classes and each classes have their own classroom. This is also same until high school.

Of course they do science experiment in scienceroom, cooking practice in home economics room, music class in musicroom which has a piano, drawing and manual arts class in the room for that, physical class at the ground or in the gymnastic hall. However, other classes are held in their classroom.

Classrooms are decorated with some notices and works of students, so they have their own atmosphere.

They take school meals as a lunch

Many elementary schools provide school meals for their children as a lunch. Children take a white robe, bring school meals to their classroom by themselves, and dish up foods on the plate of their classmates.

To clean up their classroom

After taking school meals or all of the classes, children clean up their classroom by themselves to learn the importance of a cleanness and a collective action. Junior-high and high school students do it too.

To attend by walking

The students of public elementary schools attend by walking because their home is not so far from their schools. According to the school, they have to attend belonging to the local group.

So please pay attention for the road which has the sigh written as “通学路(つうがくろ)” or “スクールゾーン” because it means it’s the area where elementary-school children go through every morning and evening!

After leaving a school, some of them play in a park or their friend’s home, and others go to a cram school or some kinds of lessons.

A junior-high and high school

To take a school uniform

Most of junior-high and high schools in Japan, students have to take a school uniform. Each schools have each designs for the uniform, so especially for girls, they tend to deside their school to advance because of the uniform.

Bento, cafeteria or school store

Most of junior-high and high schools don’t provide school meals. So students bring their own “Bento”, or take their lunch in the cafeteria.

If there is the school store which sells some kinds of breads or “Onigiri”, students can buy something which they want to take.

Club activities after school

For junior-high and high school life in Japan, we can’t tell it without “Club activities”, “部活(ぶかつ)” in Japanese!!

“部活(ぶかつ)” is the abbreviation for “部活動(ぶかつどう)”. Baseball, soccer, tennis, basketball, volleyball, badminton, athletic sports, swimming, and Judo club are basics for the sports. For culture, art, wind instrument music, handcraft, Sado, Syogi, photo club and so on.

Most of freshers visit some clubs which they are interested in for a week after the entrance ceremony, and belong to the club which they want to.

There are mainly two aims to belong to a club; first one is to work hard together for good results in the tournaments or contests, and second one is make friends who have the same hobby.

Each schools have each clubs, and there are some famous schools which have the powerful teams to participate in the national competitions every year. That’s why club activities are also important as the reason to deside the school to advance.

The culture of “Senpai” and “Kouhai”

【The girl who try to give the chocolate for “Senpai”, senior boy on St.Valentine’s day】

Do you know the custom to call someone who is belonging to the same school or office earier than oneself as “Senpai”, and later than oneself as “Kohai”?

There are some standards to call “Senpai” or “Kohai” such like the period they belong to the community, their career, stage or age. Anyway, we call someone who is at the upper position than oneself as “Senpai” and have to tolk with them in “Keigo”, the polite expressions in Japanese.

We start to learn this rule which we’re required as a matter of course in Japanese society from junior-high school. “部活” is also the training for “Senpai” and “Kohai” culture.

There are many events in Japanese school life!

Next, I’ll introduce you the events in Japanese school life.

An athletic festival

An athletic festival is held in May or September to October. We call it “運動会(うんどうかい)” in an elementary school, and “体育祭(たいいくさい)” in a junior-high and high school.

It’s easy to imagine by expressing it as “A school olympic between teams”, however, the games are not a general sports but very unique.

For example, this is “綱(つな)引(ひ)き”; pulling the long rope each other.

And this is “玉入(い)れ”; throwing the small colored balls to put into the basket.

And this is “大玉(おおだま)転(ころ)がし”; running by bringing the big ball.

We can give you the tipical examples like them.

An excursion

An excursion is “遠足(えんそく)” in Japanese, it means “Going to somewhere far from the school”. In an elementary school, children go to a picnic. In a junior-high and high school, students visit local famous sightseeing spots and so on.

A camp school

A camp school is the event to cook outside and contact with the nature in the camping ground to make friends with classmates.

A school trip

In Japan, elementary, junior-high and high schools hold a school trip. Most of schools around Tokyo, students in an elementary school visit “日光(にっこう)” in Tochigi prefecture. And in a junior-high school, students visit “奈良(なら)” and “京都(きょうと)”. And high school students can go to many places like “沖縄(おきなわ)”.

In the other hands, the schools in provinces take students to Tokyo.

The most pleasure of them is “恋(こい)バナ” in the midnight after all!  “恋(こい)バナ” is the abbreviation for “恋に関(かん)する話(はなし)”, “Talking about their romance” in Japanese.

They confess the person who they likes, tell about their lover, or consult their matters each other.

Lodging together for the training

Also there is the event called “合宿(がっしゅく)”, lodging together for the training of club activities for some days in a distant place.

It’s held in the long vacation like a summer vacation.

A contest of chorus

“合唱(がっしょう)コンクール”, a contest of chorus is the event to compete their results of practice by performing chorus of each class.

In Japan, there are many schools which give high priority to chorus; we have not only the national contest but also the contest which is held by the television station named “NHK”!!

A school festival

Finally I’ll tell you about a school festival in Japanese school life.

A school festival is the event that many programs provided by each classes and clubs amuse the students and visiters. In the other word, it’s “The festival of the students, by the students, and for the students”.

For example, to perform dramas or play musics on the stage,

to cook something to eat such like Yakitori, Yakisoba, Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki,

to hold a haunted house in their classroom,

to display their pictures, photos and so on.

Because school festivals are opened to the public, everyone can visit. If you want and have a chance, I really recommend you to go!

Final comment

How about it?

Could you imagine Japanese school life?

I think something is different from your country and made you surprised, and something is interesting.

When your child attend to school in Japan someday, read this article again!