The Japanese Education System & Its 10 Distinctive Features

Japanese people are known worldwide for their impressive politeness, high intelligence, strong health and great wellness. Great part in that is played the Japanese Education System, known for its distinctive features that have made the Japanese nation so different and unique.

So, what is so special about it that make the rest of us envy the Japanese? Read about their incredible education system!

1. Manners are more important than knowledge.

The students in the Japanese schools do not take exams until they reach grade four, which is at the age of 10. Until that they take small tests. Japanese teachers believe that during the first 3 years of school the child’s knowledge should not be judged. Instead, good manners should be established and character should be developed. The kids are taught to be good to animals, to respect other people and nature, to be compassionate and generous. They are also taught qualities such as justice, grit, and self-control.

2. On the 1st April starts the academic year.

Most of the schools and universities around the world start the academic year in September, however in Japan that happens in April. It is not by chance that the first day of school usually coincides with the loveliest natural phenomena - the cherry blossom. The academic year has three trimesters: from April 1 to July 20, from September 1 to December 26, and from January 7 to March 25. Japanese students have holidays of 6 weeks during the summe and well as two-week breaks during the winter and the spring.

3. In many Japanese schools, the students take care of cleaning their school.

The Japanese students often clean their classrooms themselves and also take care of the cafeterias and the toilets. For the cleaning they are divided into small groups and are given various tasks, and then they rotate. This teaches students how to help each other and work in a team. While spending own efforts and time in cleaning, the kids start respecting the work of others.

4. The school lunch in the Japanese schools is provided on a standardized menu. It is eaten in the classroom.

The Japanese students try to eat balanced and healthy meals. At the public elementary and junior high schools, the lunch for the students is cooked on based on a standardized menu by qualified chefs working together with health care professionals. The classmates eat in their classroom along with their teacher, thus bonding and forming great relationships.

5. The workshops after school are very popular.

Japanese students visit preparatory school and go to private after school workshops with evening classes, so that they can be prepared and get in good junior high schools. Thus, a sight of small kids returning from their courses late late is quite common in the country. The Japanese students have an 8-hour school day, however they study even during the holidays and on the weekends.

6. Japanese calligraphy and poetry are some of the subjects taught, besides the traditional subjects.

Shodo, the Japanese calligraphy, includes dipping of a bamboo brush in ink for writing hieroglyphs on rice paper. This is a form of art popular as much as the traditional painting. Haiku, the form of Japanese poetry, uses simple expressions to present deep emotions. Those classes teach children to respect the centuries-old traditions and their own culture.

7. Almost all students have to wear a school uniform.

School uniforms are required by almost all junior high schools. Some schools have their own attire, yet the traditional Japanese school uniform includes a sailor outfit for girls and a military style for boys. The uniform policy tries to remove the social barriers and to get the students in a study mood. Wearing school uniform helps the students promote a sense of community.

8. The attendance rate in the Japanese schools is approximately 99.99%.

Skipping classes or arriving late for school is not an option for the Japanese students, Approximately 91% of the students in Japan have never ignored the lectures of the teacher. Impressive, isn’t it?

9. One test decides the future of each student.

As the high school ends, the Japanese students need to take one very important exam which decides their future. The student can choose one college of one’s liking, where this college has a certain requirement for the score. In case the student does not reach that score, he or she will not go to college. The competition among the students is very high and only 3/4 of the school graduates go on with their education after high school. The kids often refer to the period of preparation as the ’examination hell.’

10. The college years are considered the greatest ’holidays’ in one’s life.

Once pupils go through the ’examination hell,’ they take a little break. The college time is often considered the best years of one’s life. Japanese people usually call this period a ’vacation time’ before the work starts.

Photo credit of the preview carlosbarria /

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