Saturday, September 8, 2012

School in Japan

  Showa Day, Bannaji & Ashikaga Gakko 058

足利学校 - あしかががっこう (Ashikaga gakkou) is the oldest school in Japan. Unfortunately, they don't all look this cool anymore. Or even function the way Ashikaga Gakkou did. Ashikaga gakkou was really a school for the scholarly elite priests, not exactly free and public education for all, but a good start nonetheless.

Most school buildings in use today were built in the 1950’s and 60’s following the second world war. They all pretty much follow the same set of blueprints:

More Ashikaga 016If you’ve seen one school, you’ve pretty much seen them all.

In the Meiji era, Japan had some major education reforms, to start modeling their system after the (now defunct) Prussian system. This included everything from how the grades were divided to uniforms. High school boys’ high-collared ‘gakuran’ jackets with the brass buttons are modeled after Prussian military school uniforms.

Besides the public schools, there are exorbitantly priced private schools in Japan as well. Every school, private or public, must abide by the national standards set forth by the Ministry of Education.

Students go through the exact same number of years of school that students do in the U.S., the only difference lies in the division between the levels of school. There are even pre-school and kindergarten programs available in most places.

Here's a look at how schooling in the U.S. is divided up vs. Japan:


















United States

Elementary school

Middle school

High school

たとえば ( For example):
In the U.S., you might be a こうこう いち ねんせい
but in Japan, you would be a ちゅうがっこう さん ねんせい

Lastly, the names of the major divisions of school are pretty simple to remember.

小学校, shougakkou, elementary school, with the character 小 (shou) meaning “small”

中学校, chugakkou, middle school, with the character 中 (chuu) meaning “middle” or “center”

高校, koukou, high school, with the character 高 (kou) meaning “high” or “tall”

and even 大学, daigaku, university, with 大 (dai) meaning “big.”

I guess you are in the big school when you go to university ^_^

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post! If you put UK up there, I guess it would be 1st - 6th grade in elemantary/しょうがっこう then 7th - 10st grade would be ちゅう
    がっこう. Sixth form/college would be 11st-12th grade then it would be University.

    The school buildings are interesting, I would love to go into one.

    By the way, I have a blog called NyNyOnline that focuses on Japanese sub-culture. If you have time to take a look at it and tell me how to improve my blog, please get back to me.


I screen my comments... but only for safety! If it doesn't show up right away, check back again later! Also, please don't forget to choose an identity (Google ID, Open ID...etc.) to comment as. Thanks!