© Yatsugatake Super Trail Club
Summer vacation at most Japanese public elementary and middle schools now starts on Marine Day on July 20 and usually lasts for around six weeks through the end of August. In some regions like Hokkaido, though, where winters are very cold, summer vacations are sometimes a little shorter and winter breaks longer.
The Japanese school year begins in April, so summer vacation comes between the first and second terms. Homework is often given so kids won't forget what they learned in the first term. While the homework given to middle school students is focused on exercises and drills in Japanese, math, and English, they're also required to write essays and create artworks.
In elementary school, younger pupils often keep a picture diary, with drawings accompanying the entries, while older students generally choose a theme of their own liking to conduct research into and perform experiments in.
Summer vacation is the longest break kids have from school during the year. It is a chance to do things they don't normally get to do and see things they don't often see. A lot of kids go on trips with their families, attend school-organized programs in the mountains or by the sea, and go camping.
A lot of time is spent outdoors, so it's not surprising for kids come back to school in the fall with a dark suntan.
Not all is play during the summer if you have entrance exams coming up. For sixth graders who want to attend a national or private middle school and ninth graders who plan to go on to high school, the summer before graduation is a very hectic time as they prepare for the exams, usually held in February. A lot of them brave the sweltering heat to attend summer cramming sessions and to take mock exams to gauge their academic skills.