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What is Japanese junior high school like?

LisaRisa

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Hi everyone,

I'm a 14 year old girl & I'll be moving to Japan soon. I'll be in a local junior high school. I'm half Japanese so I speak the language (kanji is a different story tho).
What's school like? How strict is it? How much homework would I get? How will I do in school? How are the uniforns?
What will I usually get for school lunch? What if I don't like a food?
Would I have to drink milk in school (I don't like it; my mum said she had to drink it as a kid)? Is it a lot?

Sorry for all the questions, hope it's not too much. I've heard a bit from my mum too but it's been a long time since she was in school. Thanks everyone! If you have any more info or advice it'll be greatly appreciated :)
 

Toritoribe

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Sorry but I can only say that it totally differs depending on the school. They may have a uniform, or maybe plain clothes are OK, school lunch might be provided, or you might need to bring bento from home. If school lunch is provided, 200ml of milk is always served, even with rice.

You'd better ask the city/town you will move to.
 

Lothor

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Hi everyone,

I'm a 14 year old girl & I'll be moving to Japan soon. I'll be in a local junior high school. I'm half Japanese so I speak the language (kanji is a different story tho).
What's school like? How strict is it? How much homework would I get? How will I do in school? How are the uniforns?
What will I usually get for school lunch? What if I don't like a food?
Would I have to drink milk in school (I don't like it; my mum said she had to drink it as a kid)? Is it a lot?

Sorry for all the questions, hope it's not too much. I've heard a bit from my mum too but it's been a long time since she was in school. Thanks everyone! If you have any more info or advice it'll be greatly appreciated :)
Wish I could answer your questions more - my older boy is in first year junior high school - but as Toritobe says, it does depend so much on the school, as I guess it would in most countries. My son doesn't seem to do more homework than I did as a kid in Britain, but the education system is very competitive here, with lots of kids going to cram school (juku) in the evenings to give them an advantage. Those kids tend to be very tired all the time. When I first came to Japan and taught English to people of all ages, I found them the most difficult to teach because they had so little energy. Sports clubs and other activities for older children can also be very intense and take up a lot of time.

School lunches are a big institution in Japan so schools make a lot of effort with them and parents often are sent information about what will be in the school lunch each month. So the quality is usually good. If you check out the websites of some Japanese schools, you'll probably be able to find some information. Finally, do work on your kanji! I can speak and read Japanese reasonably well, but not knowing how to read some words (particularly words made of a few kanji) sometimes really slows me down when I have to read something more complicated. Any time you put in reading Japanese before you go will be well spent.

Good luck with the move and let us know how it goes.
 

Lothor

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A bit more on the food - I asked my sons, one at junior high school and one at elementary school, about it last night. You do get the milk but you're not forced to drink it. Also, there is some flexibiilty with servings, so you can ask for more rice and less veg when you're being served if you don't like vegetables.
A general principle I've found in Japan is that provided you don't rock the boat, i.e., directly challenge authority, people will be reasonably flexible. Apply this principle to school dinners!
 

Glenski

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I don't know how to compare Japan to your home, the Netherlands. My son completed junior high in Japan and was born here. I taught for a few years in a combination high school and junior high.
What's school like?
Too general a question. You said it was going to be a "local" junior high, but that doesn't say whether it's public or private.

How strict is it?
In what regard? Again, I don't know how to compare to what you're used to. Japan is full of rules, though, so learn what they are.

How much homework would I get?
A lot.

How will I do in school?
Oh, come on. How are we supposed to know that? You said you have problems reading kanji, so I predict a lot of difficulties.

How are the uniforns?
I'd say look up what the school you will attend requires. They are definitely expensive, even if you have to buy something worn only occasionally (as my son did in his public JHS). You'll have a skirt, white button shirt, designated socks, and probably a tie, or perhaps it will be a sailor suit. Since you probably won't buy enough to wear a different outfit every day, expect Mom to do a lot of washing. There will likely be restrictions on the non-uniform clothing you can wear (things like certain name brands or colors).

What will I usually get for school lunch?
Ask your school. As mentioned above, schools hand out a monthly lunch menu to families.

What if I don't like a food?
Nobody will force you to eat it.

Would I have to drink milk in school (I don't like it; my mum said she had to drink it as a kid)?
It will be served. Get your parents to inquire about alternatives.
 

nahadef

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How will I do in school?
Oh, come on. How are we supposed to know that? You said you have problems reading kanji, so I predict a lot of difficulties.
Glenski. I’ve critiqued your way more than once in the past, this is a perfect example. You’re interacting with a junior high school student. A legal child. This is really not acceptable. With an adult, it would be obnoxious. With a child, it’s just not irresponsible. I can’t fathom you are an educator sometimes. If you have nothing nice to say, just don’t say it.

At the OP, the JHS situation in Japan is pretty tiring. In the West, kids have moods, but Japanese kids are just always tired. Lots of homework, club activities every day of the week even on vacations. And they give a ton of homework over vacations. As an adult, I don’t want my kid doing clubs as kids here do. Three days a week is fine, but seven days a week is too much, in my opinion. It’s up to you. Clubs in Japan are a fast track to friends, you spend a ton of time together, and connections are naturally made, I just think it takes up too much of a student’s time. I won’t allow it for my kid.

Lunch in schools is decent. It’s so much much better than 20 years ago, and a world apart from 40 years ago. There is usually no repeat monthly. Twenty different meals every month, usually one ‘foreign’ food a week; bi bim ba, paella, spaghetti, something like that. You don’t have to eat it, but you should, you know, they worked hard on it, and it’s healthy. I saw a display about school lunch in the 80s, and it looked like pure garbage.

Strict is a relative term. In Japan, you need to tuck your shirt in, you can’t wear jewelry. That sort of rule would be laughable in Canada (my home). The only point where Japan seems less strict than Canada that I’ve seen is their tolerance of stupidity/lack of effort, There is no way (that I’ve ever seen) for Japanese kids to fail a class. You can have 0% in a class and go on to the next year. It kind of makes the homework they assign irrelevant.
 

TGI-ECT

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I think the tolerance for stupidity stems from the sudden acceptance of all folks to be able to go to school so many years ago when before that only certain folks were allowed to attend schooling. So the teachers then had to sort of allow for certain new students not being up to the standard of others and that was not adjusted to allow for the changes that have taken place since when all the students had attended elementary school classes before moving "up" to junior high school.

So I think it is because of those in the education system at the top running the education system's infrastructure that are scared to make adjustments without so much approval from higher up that it takes years for proper adjustments to be made. That same problem can be seen in other societies, but change is not as feared in some of them and adjustments take less time than here in Japan. But it still takes time. And governing infrastructures here in Japan; be it education systems, or local and prefectural systems, are creaky, creaky, creaky with an age that shouldn't be there. I mean, everything got turned upside down in the mid-twentieth century, but these infrastructures seem like they have been such as they are for hundreds of years, and they haven't. (EDIT: And the common refrain is that they have been doing things this way for hundreds of years and that is baloney with that big 4-slice per package bread. Everything got all turned on its head in the middle of the twentieth century for reasons everybody knows and so much has not been getting done the same as when them folks with them big knives ran things.)

Rebranding in Japan isn't so easy. At all levels and in all entities. Everybody is too scared of it. Wait --- most are too scared of it. Those that aren't are the ones that get written about and many times the writing is like how bold that fella or gal is.
 

nahadef

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Yeah, I shouldn’t have posted that word, stupidity (can’t edit the day after though!). Lack of effort is far more accurate. You see kids all the time who just say they can’t do it, then don’t bother trying. I don’t think they’re stupid at all. They just live in a system which tolerates everyone. Kids with actual learning disabilities are placed in classes that suit their needs, in Canada, you need to get 50%, if you can’t manage that, you’re held back for your own good, since you can’t manage things at the level of your peers. I really wish Japan would adopt that policy, because there are a lot of 14-15 year olds who have just given up on trying since they’re confident the current will carry them to the next school year. Those folks won’t be successful in their lives unless they’re extremely good-looking, athletic or charismatic. Nine times out of ten, they will be unsuccessful.
 

Lothor

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So I think it is because of those in the education system at the top running the education system's infrastructure that are scared to make adjustments without so much approval from higher up that it takes years for proper adjustments to be made. That same problem can be seen in other societies, but change is not as feared in some of them and adjustments take less time than here in Japan. But it still takes time. And governing infrastructures here in Japan; be it education systems, or local and prefectural systems, are creaky, creaky, creaky with an age that shouldn't be there. I mean, everything got turned upside down in the mid-twentieth century, but these infrastructures seem like they have been such as they are for hundreds of years, and they haven't. (EDIT: And the common refrain is that they have been doing things this way for hundreds of years and that is baloney with that big 4-slice per package bread. Everything got all turned on its head in the middle of the twentieth century for reasons everybody knows and so much has not been getting done the same as when them folks with them big knives ran things.)
Another factor that is preventing change, and it's clearly apparent where I work, is that people are promoted according to seniority rather than ability, resulting in them being promoted beyond their ability to plan and implement policies to solve problems.

By the way, yet another thread where the OP has just disappeared after writing a single question.
 
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