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Life: School Life

  • What time do Japanese kids start and finish school?
    Starting and finishing times vary from school to school, but most kids have to be at school for registration by 8:30 a.m., and the last class of the day usually finishes around 3:00 p.m. However, this is not the end of the school day for most kids, who stay at school to take part in sport and other club activities.

  • How long is each class, and how long is a school day? How many children are in the class? Do you wear uniforms? What time do you go to school?
    So many questions! But you can find all the answers in our Schools section.

  • How long is a school day for Japanese students in the second grade?
    Second graders attend class throughout the morning and for an additional hour after lunch.The school day ends around 2:00 p.m. For more information on Japan's education system, go to: Schools.

  • How many hours a week do middle-school kids spend in school?
    In general, kids have to be at school by 8:45 am. School finishes around 3:15 pm, so they have to be in school for about six and a half hours every day from Monday to Friday. However, most kids also attend after-school clubs, and many also go to juku (cram school) in the evening to do extra studying. Learn more about school life in Japan in our Meet the Kids section.

  • What do Japanese kids do during recess, and where do they play?
    Check out the Schools for description about recess.

  • What is the literacy rate of Japan?
    Japan boasts a literacy rate of over 99%, the highest in the world. For more information on Japan's education system, go to: Schools.

  • From what grade do Japanese start doing homework?
    Homework is given from first grade on.

  • Do people learn English in places other than compulsory school?
    Compulsory education in Japan lasts nine years - up through middle school - but most kids attend high school as well. For the most part English is taught from middle school and on, and many college students take classes in the subject, too. Also, English conversation schools are highly popular.

  • Do Japanese children go to school on Saturdays?
    Until recently, Japanese children had to go to school from Monday to Saturday every week. Now, though, there are no classes on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, and beginning in April 2002 all Saturdays will be free.

  • How is the Japanese school year divided, and how often do kids receive report cards?
    There are three school terms: The first term goes from April to July; the second term is from September to December; and the last term begins in January and ends in March. Children receive report cards at the end of each term.

  • How do students get marked (graded) in Japan?
    In most schools, students are graded from 1 to 5 on their report cards at the end of each term, with 5 being the best grade. Tests and exams are usually scored out of 100. Right answers are usually marked with a circle, while wrong answers are usually marked with a cross.

  • What do kids eat in Japanese schools?
    Most Japanese elementary and middle schools do not have cafeterias, but many do have school lunches that are made in the school or at school-lunch centers. These lunches are distributed in each classroom, and the kids usually eat in their homerooms. In schools that do not offer lunch, kids bring lunch with them to school. The boxed lunches they bring from home are called o-bento. For information about o-bento, go to Japanese Box Lunches.