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Q. How do kids get to and from school?


Children who go to public schools in Japan go to the school in their local school district. In the case of elementary and middle schools, most of them walk to and from school. In Tokyo, it usually takes from 5 minutes to 15 minutes on foot.

Since most school districts in cities are small, school buses aren't used, and parents don't have to drive their children to and from school either. But in some rural areas where the population is small, children may have to spend an hour or more getting to school, on foot in some cases and by bus in others.

Getting to school can be a real challenge in snowy mountain districts.
Getting to school can be a real challenge in snowy mountain districts.

Sometimes children living in the same neighborhood go to their school in a group. In places where there's a lot of traffic on the roads, parents and school employees take turns watching at the crosswalks to make sure the kids can cross safely. Children are taught to raise their hands to let car drivers see that they're crossing; sometimes they also get special flags to use at the crosswalks. And certain elementary schools have their younger pupils all wear the same sort of brightly colored hat when they're on their way to or from school to make it easier for drivers and others to see them.

Many of the students at private schools, even at the elementary and middle-school levels, commute along with adults during rush hour, using crowded buses and trains.

Photo:Asahi Shogakusei Shimbun