7 Ways Schools In Japan Are Different From Schools In The United States

Even if you're an avid traveler, until you live abroad in a specific place for more than just a few months, it's hard to get a grasp on what the culture is actually like halfway around the world. In a short trip, you can collect some crucial knowledge in terms of what street food people eat, and what everyone drinks after a long day at work. But what do you know about schools in the Middle East or in Asia? What do you know about being respectful when entering someone's home in a foreign country? I'll stop before I start to sound like a commercial for The More You Know, but you see my point.

With this in mind, I decided to explore some fun differences between our schools and schools in Japan. (We recently learned about Japanese toilets and I have to say, it was a hit.) You'll be shocked at some of the differences, and let's just say my 7-year-old self is retroactively jealous of any free periods kids in elementary school in Japan got whenever a teacher called in sick.

Here are 7 ways schools in Japan are different from schools in the U.S.:

1. Their summer break is half as long as ours is

It's only about 5 weeks long, and it happens in the middle of the school year. And you could hardly call it a break, because the students and teachers often come into school to participate in extra curricular activities in those five weeks.

2. Greetings are important

Greetings are an integral part of Japanese culture. Students must stand and greet their teachers at the beginning and end of class.

3. Hot lunches are more important

Students and teachers all eat the exact same meal, prepared by the lunch ladies and served at their desk. Wasting the rice, soup, fish or meats that are served is not tolerated.

4. There are no school buses

Usually mothers take their kids to school, sometimes even by bicycle.

5. There are no janitors

Students are responsible for helping keep the school clean.

6. There are no substitute teachers

If a teacher calls in sick, there are just 30 kids hanging out in a classroom with no supervision.

7. Indoor shoes

All we had to reckon with was indoor voices. But in Japan, they have to remove their shoes when entering their school and change into indoor shoes.

Images: Giuseppe/Flickr; Giphy(7)