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Elementary school life in Japan

November 10, 2009 10 comments

Thanks to Mugami, I got a topic to write in my blog. Thank you so much, Mugami.

This time, I’ll introduce you a life in kindergarten, nursery school and elementary school. As you know, I’m single and haven’t ever got any kid, so I sometimes might write wrong things in this article.

Before enrolling an elementary school
There are three choises for parents before enrolling an elementary school. 1. to enroll in youchien(kindergarten) 2. to enroll in hoikuen(nursery school) 3. to enroll nowhere

There are differences between youchien and hoikuen. At first, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology supervises youchien. On the contrary, the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry supervises hoikuen. Why? Because the respective purposes of their establishment have different. Simply speaking, youchien is established for the purpose to teach chiledren before an elementary school, hoikuen is established for the purpose to nurse children for fathers and mothers who have no time because they have to work.(ofcourse, children also can be taught in hoikuen) So in the respect of hours for children to stay, there is one of difference between youchien and hoikuen.

Incidentally, I don’t know if people these days would use this word in youchien or hoikuen. We called ‘playing around the ground’ or ‘playing with toys’ and etc oyu-gi.

Elementary school life
When you got six years old, you have to go to the elementary school. Some people go to the Public school, some people go to the Private school. We often call examinations to enroll private elementary schools or private junior high school o jyuken. jyuken means ‘examination’ and o is used as a prefix to make words honorable.

In Japan, we have to spend our elementary school life for six years. Before you enter the school, you have to buy randoseru, which is one of bags. You shoulder it and go to the school.

You can see what it is in this site.

When I was an elementary school student, we were allowed to buy only two-colored randoseru. Male students had to buy the black one and Female students had to do the red one. Time has changed. Now that people can choose many colors. It takes from about 10,000 yen to over 50,000 yen. I don’t know if it’s true, but celebrities buy much more expensive one.

We treat April as the beginning of the term and March as the end of the term for one year. In April, the first graded elementary school students walk through the arcway of cherry-blossoms, given a shower of applauses which say ‘Welcome to this school’.

The terms are divided 2 or 3 in one year. The ways to be divided is depending on the region and municipal governments. In my region, we have three terms in a year. My friend who lives in Yokohama told me they have two terms in a year. Between respective terms, there are holidays called haruyasumi, natsuyasumi and huyuyasumi. It’s also depending on the region, haruyasumi is generally held from March 25 to April 7. natsuyasumi is held from late July to the end of August. From December 25 to January 7 is treated as huyuyasumi. Except haruyasumi, teachers give us a ton of homework, especially in natsuyasumi.

Activities in elementary school
In addition to study, we have a lot of events in elementary school life. ensoku(field trip), shuugaku ryokou(school trip), gassyou konku-ru(contest of a chorus), gakugeikai(school play), undoukai(athletic festival), and club activities.

A lot of events might occur in shuugaku ryokou. makura nage is one of traditional games during shuugaku ryokou. It’s just simple. Just throwing your pillows against your opponents. I don’t know how we judge ‘win’ or ‘lose’ during makura nage. Other famous event in shuugaku ryokou is kokuhaku(to confess who you like or love) when we’re about to sleep. During shuugaku ryokou, we have to make groups and each group is lot a room to sleep respectively. After turning the light off, whispers start. ‘Hey, who do you like in our class?”Me? You say who at first!”Hey, I guess she is crush on you!”No way!”Yes way!’ Sometimes teachers come and try to check if students really sleep. Under such surveillance, the secret and kinda stand-by-me talk keeps going.

In shuugaku ryokou, students often strangely behave. You can see them buying strange souvenirs, such as bokutou(wooden sword). In the event of shuugaku ryokou, you must be careful with how much you can bring your snacks(called oyatsu). I don’t know how much recent rates of oyatsu when shuugaku ryokou are, but when I was an elemntary school students, I was allowed to pay 400 or 500 yen for oyatsu. The most important thing you must check is ‘including fruits or not’.

O.K. Next time, I’ll write an article about junior high school life.

Categories: Japanese Culture
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