Education & Career

Impressive Things in Japanese Schools

( | Press Release | 2021-07-24 00:15:57 )
Surely, there are many beautiful things or impressive things about Japanese schools.

The identification and recognition of them depend on the observers and their cultural background and interests.

In this article, I would like to give emphasis on the seven things that I always consider laudable and impressive in Japanese schools.

I could not contain my admiration that it drove me to share them here.

For Japanese people, these seven things are just common practices that are part of their routine.

But for a foreigner like me, they are simply beautiful and worth sharing with the world.

Let’s begin!

1. Mokusou
On my first day at school, I was almost late when I arrived at the door of my classroom.

I was expecting a rowdy class since they were in First Grade Junior High School (Grade 7).

But I did not hear any noise.

I thought that was strange.

When I entered the room, all of them were quiet with their eyes closed.

There were two students standing in front of the class.

It was so quiet and it was so unusual to me.

When the bell rang, the two students in front of the class said: `Please, open your eyes, please stand`.

Everyone stood up, we started the greetings and the class went on.

In the next period, it was the same scenario before the class started.

Then, I realized that it was part of their routine.

This routine practice is called “mokusou” in Japanese.

It may literally mean “silent contemplation” or “to be quiet and to contemplate”.

The students can usually do silent contemplation when they close their eyes.

Hence, “mokuso” in Japanese schools means closing one`s eyes and contemplating quietly.

It has its roots in the ancient practices of meditation related to kung fu or Buddhist meditation.

In my opinion, this is a good habit since it helps not only the teachers to start the class easily, but also the students to dispose themselves to the process of learning.

A Japanese colleague shared one time that “mokusou” is really to help the students focus their attention on the new learnings that they are about to receive.

This is meant to clear the students’ minds from the previous subject’s worries and preoccupation.

Besides, between each class, the students become active playing around with their classmates.

This brief meditation therefore before each class helps the students calm down and concentrate on their studies.

Later on, I began to appreciate the wisdom behind this routine.

When the students do the mokusou, I also follow them and have my eyes rest for a minute.

I appreciate the silence that also helps me concentrate more on the job that I am doing. Indeed, mokusou is one of the impressive practices in Japanese schools.

2. Absence of cafeterias in Japanese schools
Japanese cafeteria
It was never mentioned during our training and orientation days that Japanese schools have no canteens or cafeterias.

This was a bit disappointing for a foreigner like me who was used to taking some snacks between breakfast and lunch and between lunch and dinner.

Hence, there is never a chance to eat some snacks during vacant periods.

It took me a few weeks to get used to it.

It also forced me to take breakfast seriously so that I would have enough energy until lunchtime.

For Japanese people, eating between classes may disrupt the concentration of the students and/or teachers.

Besides, there is only a ten-minute break between each class in the morning and afternoon (except between the fourth and fifth periods with a 70-minute break for lunch).

Thus, obviously, a snack is hardly possible since each class starts two or three minutes before the scheduled time and ends two or three minutes after the scheduled times.

Indeed, snack time is not popular in Japanese schools.

For this reason, a student or teacher should really take a breakfast heavy enough to allow them to perform their tasks until lunchtime.

As the days went on, I began to appreciate that snack times are not really necessary in Japanese schools due to the academic tasks that students and teachers need to do every single day.

They are so preoccupied with their school activities to take snacks. The students` and teachers` dedication in their academic activities is one of the impressive things in Japanese schools.

This can serve as an indicator of Japan’s strict academic discipline. Thus, it is not surprising to see how the majority of the students excel in their chosen field of interest, be it music, arts, sports, science, social studies, and so on.

The absence of cafeterias in Japanese schools has some practical implications.

Imagine the amount of money I could save every month.

I used to take snacks twice a day. The minimum average amount per snack is 200 to 300 yen.

There are at least 19 school days per calendar month.

Having said that, I save at least 7,600 to 11,400 yen per month.

This is also the same with the Japanese students and teachers.

They save a certain amount of money.

Then, in terms of school facilities, the space that could have been used by cafeterias and dining areas is used for other purposes.

Moreover, the accumulation of garbage is significantly reduced compared to other country’s schools with cafeterias.

And since there are no canteens, students bring their bento (packed lunch) that they eat inside their classroom.

Schools prepare lunch for their students.

There is a special facility in each public school where lunches are prepared.

Lunch is served between 12:05 to 12:50 and students eat their lunch together in their respective classrooms with their Homeroom Teacher.

The process of preparing and serving food is another amazing and impressive thing in the Japanese schools that I discussed below.

[Read more here:]

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