How are schools in Japan? 50 Curiosities and Rules

Have you ever wondered how schools in Japan work? How is the Japanese Educational System? In this guide we will see facts, trivia and rules about schools in Japan. Get ready to immerse yourself in Japanese culture!

The Japanese are famous for their culture, education, honesty, security, technology and intelligence. Much of this is a result of a good education in Japanese schools. The Japanese education system is quite different and unique.

Like any country, the Japanese education system has its flaws. Even so, Japan always competes for the top positions in the education rankings against Finland, Sweden and South Korea.

All schools are paid, even public ones, those who have difficulty paying, the government helps, tuition is according to the family's condition. The Japanese education system highly values hygiene, punctuality, cooperation and teamwork.

25 facts about Japanese education to make you jealous

The school year in Japan

Let's start by talking about the school year in Japan, when does it start? When are the holidays in Japan? What school events and festivals take place during the school year? Do the Japanese go on excursions? Let's find out now!

Everyone is required to study 9 years, 6 years at “Shougaku” (primary) and 3 years at “Chuugaku” (secondary). Classes in Japan last approximately 6 hours, depending on the schools, there are also extra activities such as clubs or sports. There are no classes on Saturdays and Sundays.

Although tertiary school is not mandatory in Japan, approximately 94% of middle school students go to tertiary schools are paid and more expensive, including public schools which represent approximately 76% of students.

Japanese education system - how are schools in japan?

The school year starts on 1st April

On April Fools' Day the Japanese begin to study, where they are usually greeted with an entrance ceremony called a nyuugakushiki. This is the most beautiful time to study, because the cherry trees are in bloom and in bloom. There is also a closing ceremony.

Around April and May, teachers visit the students' parents. The objective is to get to know the parents, family environment and check possible problems that students face outside of school. Parents also often visit their children at school a few times a year.

Read also: Hanami Guide - Appreciating the flowers in Japan

The Japanese academic year has 3 quarters and vacations.

From the end of December to January the Japanese have two weeks of vacation. From the end of March to April there are two more weeks of vacation and during July and August they have the summer vacation that can last up to 40 days. Not to mention the holidays and Golden Week.

The academic year is divided into three periods:

  • Ichigakki - April to July - considering that in July there are summer holidays that last from 30 to 40 days;
  • Nigakki - September to December - with winter break in December lasting only two weeks;
  • Sangakki - January to March - with spring break in March, and then the new school year starts again in April;
25 facts about Japanese education to make you jealous

Events, festivals, and school trips

Japanese schools have their festival where the school is open to everyone and students prepare a kind of fair and shows for visitors. There are also events called Undokai where students compete against each other, as well as other sports and theater championships.

It is common for schools to organize excursions, picnics, camps and even international trips with students. Some excursions can be simple to a castle or park, others can be in the middle of the mountain with accommodation of several days.

Read also: Undokai - Sports Day in Japanese Schools

25 facts about Japanese education to make you jealous

Facts about Japanese classes

Japanese subjects include Japanese language, social studies, science, mathematics, music, arts, health and physical education, as well as different classes such as domestic and industrial work, moral education and citizenship.

Exams are not the priority, no grades and failing

During elementary schools, students are not given a report card with grades, they are given a notice table called a tsuuchihyou. In this table you can find information about student performance.

During the year they are taught education and good manners. There is no failure, if the student has a bad performance, he is in recovery. Only in high school, there is a test that definitely has a lot of importance in the lives of Japanese people.

Upon entering high school, students must take tests to determine which school they will attend, and upon going to college they must do the same. Some even spend the entire third year preparing for this entrance exam.

There are clubs and extra-curricular activities

Students are required to choose an extracurricular subject at some student-run clubs in schools.

These clubs include activities such as sports, music, art, culture, cooking, computing, and any creative ideas with the school's permission.

25 fun facts about Japanese schools to make you jealous

Duration of classes and breaks

Each class has an average of 45 to 50 minutes, between them there is a short break. There are self-study classes, where students are free to study alone. Students often study in the same room.

25 fun facts about Japanese schools to make you jealous

Facts about students in Japanese schools

Students in Japanese schools need to be well educated. At the beginning and end of classes, a responsible student says Kiritsu and makes the other students stand up and bow before the teacher as a sign of respect.

They also take and serve their own food. It is common to have cafeterias in high school, but in other years students have lunch in the classroom. Parents often prepare Obento (lunchboxes) with an artistic touch for their children.

In Japanese schools, especially in high school, some students are ridiculed and suffer Ijime (bullying), causing depression and sometimes even suicide, this is one of the big problems that happens in Japanese schools.

Read also: Ijime - Bullyng in schools in Japan

Children go to school alone at age 6

In addition to the security that the country offers, this is a way for children to gain responsibility and become independent. They usually go in groups, wearing a yellow helmet to identify themselves and some streets are usually prohibited from passing cars at these times.

25 facts about Japanese education to make you jealous

Basically they use a standard backpack called Randoseru

Children use this beautiful and powerful backpack during their early school years. They are expensive and are often even passed on from generation to generation. They are very resistant, practical and elegant.

It is designed not to stress the spine, as elementary school students walk in groups to school. Despite the high cost, these backpacks have become fashionable, and are mandatory in some traditional schools.

Students are responsible for cleaning the school

Cleaning is usually divided into groups and each one is responsible for cleaning. Some can clean the room, bathroom, swimming pool, court and other school premises, in addition to serving their own meals.

Sometimes students carry out cleanings even outside the school or in the neighborhood. Since elementary school they are trained to take care of their own cleaning. In some schools students need to take care of plants or animals.

25 facts about Japanese education to make you jealous

Uniform is mandatory in most schools

In most Japanese schools, the uniform is mandatory. Instead of a simple shirt with a logo, each school has its own uniform that differs and has its own style. Schools that do not require uniforms are scarce.

These Japanese uniforms are often in the sailor style. Boys wear suits, girls wear skirts. There are winter, summer, gym and swimming uniforms. In elementary school not everyone wears uniforms, but they wear helmets on their heads.

25 fun facts about Japanese schools to make you jealous

The article is still halfway through, but we recommend also reading:

Rules of Japanese Schools

Now let's see some rules and forbidden things in schools in Japan. It is worth remembering that things change over time and that each school differs from one another. Therefore, everything is quite relative, some schools are more liberal and others more rigid.

Most of the rules we are going to look at are for Chugakko and Kokou students (12-18), but we will not specify which ones belong to each year, nor which schools have such rules. Don't think that all schools have such rules.

appearance rules

In addition to the aforementioned uniform, here are some rules that involve appearance:

You cannot change your natural appearance. For example, dyeing your hair, wearing makeup, wearing colored contact lenses, tweezing your eyebrows, painting your nails and others. 

You may not wear any jewelry or accessories of any kind. For example, necklaces, rings, watches, earrings, etc. Of course there are exceptions and some permissions within this area.

You cannot wear a brightly colored sweater or coat over your uniform during winter. Only colors like gray, navy, black and neutrals. All this will depend on your school.

Boys can't have long hair or a big beard. Socks are mandatory. A girl's bangs cannot extend beyond her eyebrows. You cannot make certain changes to the uniform such as shortening, painting or changing the color.

And remember that these rules don't apply to all schools, and there are many more rules to keep your students and school looking good.

It is worth remembering that these rules apply outside of school when wearing the uniform. However, not everyone follows the rules, most girls tend to shorten their skirts when they are out of school.

How are schools in Japan? 50 curiosities and rules

school rules

At the beginning of class and at the end of the class, students stand, bow and greet. Students must bring their own meals, the sale and consumption of certain foods and industrialized products is not allowed.

Students cannot bring manga to school. Cell phones should not be used at school. If the student is absent, the parents must call with the reason. Participation in any club is required (sports, literature, music, etc.).

The school does not allow students to do certain types of jobs or have jobs. Sometimes it is common for a student close to graduating to participate in part-time jobs or odd jobs called a baito.

How are schools in Japan? 50 curiosities and rules

Some schools even forbid their children to go to an Arcade or Karaoke without their parents present. Sometimes it's even forbidden to sleep at friends' houses. Students must be home before curfew (22:00). Students cannot take extra classes or cram school without informing their teacher.

It is not allowed to do anything that would disgrace the name of the school or the student, including having intimate relationships with someone. It is worth remembering that many students do not apply these rules.

There are many other rules that don't exist in schools in other countries like ours. Don't think that because of so many rules, Japan's education system is perfect, many things go unnoticed by teachers or ignored, there are many cases of bullying, and the Japanese are not obedient and perfect as some think.

Other facts about Japanese education

  • Education in secondary schools and universities is always paid, even public schools have a fee;
  • All Japanese schools have lockers to put shoes on and enter with appropriate shoes on site;
  • The main subjects in Japanese schools are: Mathematics, Language Studies, Social Sciences, Crafts, Music, and Physical Education.
  • Mandatory education in Japan is 9 years, although high school is not compulsory, more than 70% of students graduate from college;
  • The Japanese education system highly values hygiene, punctuality, cooperation and teamwork;
25 facts about Japanese education to make you jealous
  • The students receive homework during the holidays.
  • Some students go to school even on weekends to participate in club activities;
  • In all schools, there is a nutrition specialist in charge of the students' food and diet;
  • At a university, students are free to choose any subject they like. College is considered the best time of life for some;
  • In addition to traditional subjects, Japanese students need to learn something traditional like Japanese calligraphy and poetry;

Japan school grade

The Japanese education system is similar to the American system, but it has its major differences. The Educational system is divided into 5 parts as shown in the table below:

3-4 Kindergarten
(幼稚園 Kindergarten)
6-71Primary School
(小学校 Elementary school)
Compulsory Education
12-131Middle School
(中学校 middle school)
Compulsory Education
15-161Secondary school
(高等学校 high school, abbr.高校 kōkō)
19...--University - College
Dormitory (大学寮):
Average duration of four years.

As in Brazil, in elementary school, a teacher teaches all subjects for each class, which has an average of 30 to 40 students. In addition to classes inside the classroom, students have extra-curricular classes and practical classes inside laboratories. In high school, students have several teachers, and some even have classes in different rooms.


See some videos below that show a little of what Japanese schools are like. Also don't forget to leave your comments if you think we forgot to mention something important. Thanks for the comments and shares.

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