Field trips (ensoku) for healthy recreation are taken by classes in kindergarten, elementary school, and middle school. The schoolchildren are led by their teachers for one-day picnics to a park, the seaside, or the mountains.
These trips are part of a school's official activities and are generally taken twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall. They can be some of the most memorable events of the school year - a chance to visit places with lots of greenery and to have fun playing with one's school friends. Sometimes, excursions are made to facilities like factories and newspaper publishers to observe how the adult world works.
Kids eagerly look forward to going on an ensoku. If it rains on the day an outdoor excursion is planned, the trip is either postponed or sometimes cancelled. A cancelled ensoku can be really disappointing.
In the year before graduation, instead of going on a day trip, longer excursions requiring overnight stays (shugaku ryoko) are taken by students in elementary, middle, and high school.
These trips give kids exposure to places outside the region where they live or experiences that can't be obtained through everyday school life. They usually involve visits to historic cities like Kyoto, Nara, and Hiroshima, culturally significant areas, or districts renowned for scenic beauty. Recently, some schools have been scheduling shugaku ryoko to foreign countries.
These overnight excursions are a real treat for the kids since they get to travel and spend the night with friends. The conversations they have on the bus or train and the games they play during their free time after dinner usually become lasting memories. It's hard to get to sleep even when bedtime is announced, and some kids keep talking with their friends deep into the night.