Nushima Middle School has a total of only 22 students, but all are full of high spirits.
Awajishima is a large island situated between Shikoku, one of Japan's four main islands, and Osaka Bay. The nearest big cities are Osaka and Kobe. If you take one of the regular boats from there due south for 10 minutes, you will reach a tiny island called Nushima. Nushima has a circumference of only about 10 kilometers (6.25 miles).
People in Nushima usually get around rather leisurely on foot and by bicycle. As there are just a few bulldozers and no one uses a car on the island, there are no traffic lights anywhere. There are a total of about 700 people on the island, and most of them live crowded around the island's harbor in one- or two-story houses.
The middle-school students greet each other happily when they pass each other on the narrow roads that thread their way between the houses. Everyone on the island knows everyone else, and many people are related, so it is quite natural for people to greet one another. The people in Nushima are like one big family.
Nushima is a small island in the Seto Inland Sea, with a circumference of only 10 km (6.25 miles).
Fishing is the main industry on Nushima. Here, many fishing boats can be seen berthed in the harbor.
The regular ferry between the port of Habuko on the Awajishima coast and Nushima. The ferry makes 10-11 round trips a day, carrying passengers and supplies.
Nushima Middle School (site is Japanese only) (the only middle school on the island) was founded in 1947, and about 40 or 50 new students used to enter the school every year. Recently, though, many young people have been leaving the island after they graduate high school, and Nushima's population has been falling by about 30 people a year. Over the last 10 years, there have been fewer than 10 new students each year at Nushima Middle School. Presently, there are a total of 22 students: 8 first-year (seventh grade) students, 8 second-year (eighth grade) students, and 6 third-year (ninth grade) students. Most of the students went to elementary school together, so they know each other like brothers and sisters. The ratio of students to teachers is 1.7 at Nushima. Compared with this, the national average for public schools is 16.0, so the teachers are able to give the students a lot of attention.
Surrounded by nature and friendly people, the kids make the most of life in Nushima. Third-year student Hideyuki Ishii says, "It's near the ocean, so you can go fishing. You can catch a lot of black porgy." Mika Koizumi, another third-year student, says, "Everyone here on the island is so friendly."
(Right) Time is in no hurry on Nushima. (Left) The teachers make sure they spend a lot of time with their students.