Kids Web Japan

Special Feature on Japanese Schools: Study Camps and School Trips

Schools in Japan have events called study camps and school trips in which teachers take students to places that are far away from their regular classroom to learn lots of new things. This lets kids enjoy special experiences that are different from their usual classes. For this reason, these events make great memories for students in elementary, junior high, and high schools. Let's take a look at study camps and school trips in Japan.

Study Camps and School Trips in Japanese Schools

Left: The Kaminarimon of Asakusa Temple is a really popular destination for school trips. This gate is located in Japan's capital city, Tokyo. Right: The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. This is known as one of the most famous places for learning about peace, especially with the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum nearby as well.

Study camps and school trips are school events in which teachers take their students somewhere far away from their school to study. The students can see and experience things that they cannot do anywhere else, and they take on challenges to learn lots of new things. Also, the students can make plans on their own and move together as a group. This lets them understand the importance of cooperating with each other in activities.

For example, students from a high school in Kure City, Hiroshima Prefecture went on a school trip to visit Kumamoto Prefecture in Kyushu. They all got on board a high-speed Shinkansen train to get there. They deepened their knowledge about disaster prevention and the local area by looking at places that had been damaged by natural disasters in a similar way to their home town in Kure. The students also ate, slept, and lived together, letting them find out new nice things about each other in ways that they would not usually be able to see. One of the best parts of school trips is making great memories as a student.

Left: Students visiting Kumamoto Prefecture as part of their studies on disaster preparedness They took a tour to study the history of Kumamoto Castle, which is being restored after some parts were damaged by a large earthquake in 2016. Right: Students enjoying lunch together. (Photos courtesy of Hiroshima Prefectural Kure Mitsuta High School)

Learn About History and Culture

Left: People taking a tour of Kiyomizu-dera, a World Heritage Site in Kyoto. Right: Students having fun with hands-on experiences with equipment used by samurai and ninja. (Photos courtesy of Nodagakuen Senior High School)

Kyoto was previously the capital city of Japan. It has always been the most popular destination for school trips, both in the past and today. Kyoto has over 1,200 years of history. There are many historical buildings such as old shrines and temples that remain from the times when court culture and the samurai society were still active.

Let's take a look at a school that did prep studies before going on a school trip, in which they prepared for the topics they were about to learn.

One school in Yamaguchi Prefecture, on Japan's main island of Honshu, held a school trip with the theme, "Preserving history and culture for the next generation." For the prep study, the students drew pictures with paints that were used in Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. During the school trip to Kyoto, they visited an art university in Kyoto, where they listened to a lecture on repairing cultural property and then joined in at a workshop. Through these experiences, the students learned about the important role that universities have in preserving historical sites and cultural assets. They also learned how the appeal of Kyoto as a city is all thanks to the people who protect these assets.

Students in a prep study session. They crush stones into powder, and then mix the powder into glue to create paint for coloring pictures. (Photos courtesy of Nodagakuen Senior High School)

During the school trip, the students listened to a lecture at an art university in Kyoto, and then they made a small folding screen with hinges made from Japanese paper. (Photos courtesy of Nodagakuen Senior High School)

Extra-Special Experiences

Some schools organize experiences with a traditional Japanese performing art called noh. Students from an elementary school in Onomichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture were taught by a noh actor for prep study. Afterward, they watched a noh performance during their school trip to Kyoto, and they also stood on the stage and did practice with an actor there. After the school trip, the students did a presentation with traditional performing arts for their parents and guardians, to show the results of their practice. Through this experience, the students started to focus more on the way they move every day. They had a great time watching traditional performing art, as well as getting a hands-on experience with noh.

Students being taught by a noh actor during a school trip.

Students watching a noh performance at Kashokaku, a noh theater in Kyoto. (Photos courtesy of Kubo Elementary School)

A noh actor doing a dance as part of the noh performance titled "Kamo" on the stage of the noh theater in Kyoto that the students visited. The actor is wearing a noh mask called o-tobide with large eyes and a wide-open mouth. (Photo courtesy of General Incorporated Association Kashokaku Noh Theater)

Exchanges with Local People

Students from a high school in Tokyo had an exchange with local people at two small towns in Hokkaido. The students learned about the environment and sustainability. The first town called Higashikawa is near to Asahikawa Airport and has an increasing population. The students listened to people who had moved there, and they also joined a hands-on workshop where they learned about traditional patterns made by the Ainu people, the indigenous people of Hokkaido. Through these activities, they deepened their understanding of the culture in the town and Hokkaido as a whole, and they split up into groups to suggest plans for bringing life to the local area. The second town was Shimokawa, which is surrounded by nature. Here, the students had exchanges with local people at forestry facilities, renewable energy generators, and other locations. Through these exchanges, they thought about what it means to build a sustainable society and sustainable towns. By talking with people who they could not meet anywhere else, the students could more strongly feel the importance of projects to bring life into towns, and they were able to think about how society could be better.

Students creating traditional patterns of the Ainu people (the indigenous people of Hokkaido) by cutting paper. (Photo courtesy of Komaba Gakuen High School)

Students taking a tour of a facility in Shimokawa that makes a traditional Japanese New Year's decoration called kadomatsu. (Photo courtesy of Komaba Gakuen High School)

School Trips Abroad

Students enjoying the natural scenery of Hawaii and an exchange with a local school. (Photos courtesy of Fukuoka Prefectural Fukuoka Chuou High School)

Some schools do not just travel within Japan. They even hold school trips abroad. One high school in Fukuoka Prefecture on Japan's island of Kyushu had a school trip to the U.S. State of Hawaii. The students started preparations in Japan by making reservations in English for climbing Diamond Head and doing other activities in Hawaii. When they arrived, they split up into groups and received training on the environment and other topics, based on the plan that they had prepared. It was a really refreshing experience for the students to leave their regular classroom and experience the nature of Hawaii. There were also exchange events with local students too. The Japanese students used their foreign language skills to speak with people their own age abroad. This helped them open their eyes to the wider world.

Left: Students taking a photo in front of a statue of King Kamehameha. Right: Students enjoying a traditional Japanese game together at an exchange meeting in Waipahu High School, Hawaii. (Photos courtesy of Fukuoka Prefectural Fukuoka Chuou High School)

Through study camps and school trips, Japanese school students learn new things through experiences that are different from their usual classes. This lets them see society from new perspectives and helps them create great school memories with their friends, which gets them ready for later life.