15+ Japanese School Rules That Surprise Even the Locals

year ago

Japan is a country with many surprises. Even the learning process there doesn’t start in the fall: Japanese students start school in April and take a break in March. But this is not the only aspect that seems odd when it comes to their education system.

We decided to learn more about how the Japanese live. And at the end of the article, there’s a bonus proving that this country has a lot of unusual school rules.

  • In Japan, elementary school consists of students in grades 1 through 6. Every year, the classes are shuffled, and teachers switch places, so students have the opportunity to get to know new people better.
  • For 6 years, students carry identical backpacks, called “randoseru” in Japan. In the most conservative schools, all girls carry a red randoseru, and boys carry black ones, but this color rule is not followed everywhere.
  • Many first-years wear yellow hats, so that other people can see them from a distance.
  • In some schools, students are responsible for the cleanliness of the building. After classes, kids clean their rooms, and those on duty clean the bathrooms and the playgrounds.
  • When students enter the school, they leave their street shoes in lockers and put on uwabaki — special white slippers worn by children of all genders and ages.
  • If parents come to school, they also take their shoes off and wear something clean, even if it’s warm and dry outside.
  • After 6th grade, students go to middle school, which lasts for 3 years. This is where most Japanese students start wearing uniforms.
  • Schools often prohibit girls from using cosmetics. In some schools, there is even a bottle of micellar water in each class. If teachers notice a girl with makeup on, they will make her wash it all off her face.
  • Some Japanese schoolgirls are not allowed to wear pantyhose even in the winter because some educational institutions require girls to wear skirts with socks. One student even complained to the school administration about this unfair rule. In response, she was told that they understood her concern, but she would be finishing her education soon, so she needed to endure it a little longer.
cowardlion / Depositphotos
  • Japanese schools have strict requirements for their students’ appearance. For example, most schools don’t allow boys to shave their temples. Only teachers can have this kind of haircut.
  • Many Japanese schools require girls to wear their hair straight. If their hair is curly, students have to prove they didn’t curl it. They show “real hair certificates” signed by their parents and their childhood photos. The same rule applies to students with light hair: they need to prove they didn’t dye it.
  • High school is from the 10th to the 12th year. To start the 10th year, students have to pass exams.
  • The schedule of a typical high school student includes mandatory and optional subjects. One of the mandatory disciplines is a year-long home economics course, which prepares students for family life. Students learn how to cook, manage a budget, and discuss the importance of family.
  • Optional subjects may include fishing and agriculture.
  • In addition to mandatory classes, nearly half of all high school students attend preparatory courses to prepare them for admission to higher education institutions.
  • Almost all schools have monthly morning meetings with the headmaster. In the past, students would listen to a speech while standing. Now, they do it while sitting on the floor.
  • Some Japanese teachers don’t just assess subject knowledge, but they also monitor how well and correctly students take notes. The thing is, students are expected to write down information from their teacher almost word for word, and teachers usually do not wait for students who fall behind.

Bonus: Even an eraser can lead to trouble.

“My daughter brought an eraser, but in her Japanese school, she wasn’t allowed to use it because it’s not white.”

Preview photo credit KPG-Payless2 / Shutterstock.com


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