Wednesday, January 14, 2009


The New Year has started and the morning rush is back. People are going back to the office and kids to school. Not everyone is very enthused to go back, but if you hear this schedule, you might feel a little better.

Mon: Cram School
Tue: Monthly EXAM
Wed: Cram School
Thu: Mid-term TEST
Fri: Cram School
Sat: Cram School

Above is an example of the afterschool schedule for a senior high school student in January. They go to normal school from morning to afternoon, and then they go to a cram school to study some more. So that they can get into the University of their Dreams, they go through "juken." Juken, is a way to get into a university in Japan. Students take tests as often as every two weeks, one big exam (called "Center shiken") in January, and a big entry exam for each university in February and March. Yes, it is a big deal in Japan, and many students suffer with the study.

As said in previous writings, Japan is a very superstitious country. When we feel anxiety or feel we need help, we go to temples or shrines to pray and buy lucky charms known as "omamori." This goes for the students going through juken too. They buy omamori and good luck supplies to comfort their anxiety. One of the best known shrines for education in Japan is the "Yushima Tenjin" near Tokyo University. The shrine worships Sugawara Michizane, a scholar and a government official in the Heian period (794-1192) known for his talent in education. Many students come here to buy omamori (lucky charm) and to wish themselves good luck.

Another thing in Japan is that many students buy "gokaku goods" around this season. In Japanese, gokaku means to pass an exam or another challenge. Many merchandise brands such as snacks, office supplies, and drinks, produce these goods. The students believe that by buying the gokaku version of the products they will feel more comfort than when buying the normal version of the products. These products will be lined up at the nearest convenient stores and supermarkets soon so if you have a chance, please try one out. Some products offer you a different flavor than the usual ones, or limited time pen colors and containers.

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