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High School in Japan: The Realistic Representation

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Agathe is a half Japanese who is currently living in Japan. She loves watching anime and reading manga.


Ever wondered what would happen if you go to a high school in Japan? Some of you must be imagining that it’s like an anime. Guess what? You’re wrong. Here’s the realistic depiction of what you’d find in Japanese High School.

1. Cleaning Time

What is cleaning time? In Japan, we call it souji which means cleaning. From elementary up to high school students are obligated to do it every day. Oh, and if you decide to work in Japanese High School, you’re expected to do it as well. It’s usually done after school and takes about 15 minutes. The students are divided into groups and each group is selected to clean a specific place. The places students must clean range from the classroom to restroom. In a way, it’s a good thing so we can be responsible of ourselves. After all, a sense of responsibility must be educated early on. But you get my point, right? It’s not always fun and games . . . and anime girls.


2. The Urine Test

I don’t know if there’s a urine test in Western but there certainly is in Japanese schools. In the beginning of a semester, there will be various medical checks and one of them includes the urine test. A white tube and a cup will be handed out to contain your urine. You have to urinate before you sleep and the urine you let out in the morning is the one that’s supposed to go into the tube. No, this is not a drug test however. It’s for health check. It is said that urine reveals our health condition. But drug can be detected, I suppose.

Cute Japanese school uniforms!

Cute Japanese school uniforms!

3. Japanese High School Uniforms

Have you ever seen the cute Japanese High School uniforms? A ribbon, a vest and that cute mini skirt? Girls want to wear it while the boys want to ogle at the girls. Well, the uniforms are true mostly. There are two versions of the uniforms, the summer uniform and winter uniform. The summer uniform is mostly short-sleeved. As for the color, it’s white most of the times. As for winter, you wear a suit with a vest inside. Mind you, it’s really cold during the winter! In spring, you can leave the suit. Oh, and one more thing, the skirts are not always mini, you see. I see lots of knee-length skirts as well. It depends on the school, I suppose.

These are the slippers!

These are the slippers!

4. Uwabaki

In other countries, when you go into the school, you go in with the shoes. In Japan, it’s not the case. You must wear indoor slippers whenever you go inside. It’s for sanitary purposes. Also, it’s easier to clean during the cleaning time! Moreover, Japan’s flooring usually used woods so if we use the regular shoes it might damage the flooring. Uwabaki is colored differently per grade. For example, junior’s uwabaki is green and etc.

Looks delicious, right?

Looks delicious, right?

5. Bento

Anime watchers, you must know what bento is! It’s an essential part of Japanese culture. Bento is cute, isn’t it? Is it even real? We see it on the internet as well and it’s decorated very nicely. It must take a lot of time to design it. There’s not much time in the morning as well. So, that must be a lie, right? Well, nope. It’s actually true. If you go to a Japanese High School, you’ll see lots of cute Japanese bento during lunch. Japanese cares a lot about appearance after all. Usually, Japanese bento box consists of onigiri (rice ball), and some side dishes like fried chicken and sausages. It’s very delicious!

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6. School Events

There are many kinds of school events from undoukai to bungkasai. You must be familiar with those events if you love watching slice of life anime or manga. So, what is undoukai? It’s Sports Day. There are sport competitions and stuff. The students will be divided into three blocks by the name of colors, red, white, and blue. It’s a huge event in Japan and you will be practicing a lot before the event. Your families will be coming to see you at the Sports Day as well.

As for bungkasai, it’s a Cultural Festival. Each class will prepare something to greet the customers from café to haunted house or class. There will be food stands as well. You can also see performances as well. It’s a huge event too. In winter, there’s a marathon event. Ah, imagine how cold it is to run around during the winter! The Cultural Festival and Sports Day are like Prom in America.

7. Study Hard

You must’ve seen those stereotype memes about Asian being smart. Well, it’s not exactly true but it’s not a lie either. To get into good universities in Japan, you must study a lot. It’s a huge deal. You won’t see the students fooling around. They study hard. Japanese people are very discipline and diligent. They take their future seriously. Some people even study until 11 am at the course.


8. Afterschool Activity

Japanese High Schools start between 7 & 8 and end at somewhere between 4 and 5. Pretty long, huh? It doesn’t end there however. For those who join school activity goes home at somewhere between 6 & 7 P.M. Oh, and don’t forget for the ones who go to courses. It most likely ends at 10 – 11 P.M. Tough, right? Your entire day is practically studying. Oh, by the way, the club activities or bukatsu are not obligated. But joining club activity can get you a suisen or recommendation into a university from the school so a lot of students join clubs. There are a lot of choices from soccer to archery. Interested?

9. Manner

Manner is an important thing in Japan. You’re expected to greet people, even if you don’t know them, on the streets. A simple good morning will suffice. It’s also more polite to bow whenever you say thank you. In classes, you must do the greeting by standing up and bowing.

So, this is the realistic depiction of Japanese High School. Even in it's Japan, school is still school. You'd rather sleep at home. Do you want to go and experience going to Japanese School High School? It’s not like anime but a lot of experiences, the better right?


Agathe L (author) on June 16, 2017:

Yes, it happens. Like, I'm not even sure how is that possible 'cause I feel like I'd freeze the moment I step outside in winter but . . . Japanese goes to school with short skirt. Probably it's cold in the morning but during afternoon they just got used to it? I think that's what happens. Also, some of them might put some kind of 'heater pack' (idk the word) under their shirt. Still, it's cold as heck. Ah, also there's a heater long-sleeved shirt I think. I saw it in Uniqlo.

nipster on June 15, 2017:

My brother taught English in Niigata for 1 year. He said it was winter time and there were girls walking around in uniform skirts chillin like normal except...there was about 6 inches of snow(SO FREAKIN COLD!!!!). That's dedication. Does regularly happen?

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