Friday, September 3, 2010

School’s out!

With the school summer vacations almost over, students of all ages across Japan are gearing up for the start of another school term. But there’s still some vacation time left.

Summer vacation for schools and universities in Japan usually commences right after the national holiday known as “Marine Day” in mid July. During this period it’s not uncommon for Japanese junior high and high school students to go on overseas exchange trips. Popular destinations for these school trips include New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Hawaii. Students often return from their trips more tanned, heavier and sometimes more proficient in English.

One thing that may differ from school vacations in other countries is that Japanese school students may actually spend a lot of their summer vacation in school anyway. Term may have ended but extracurricular clubs go on. In fact, with studies out of the way, many after school club teachers see the summer vacation as a good opportunity for tournaments and extra practice. Busy parents are also appreciative of the school club schedule.

But what if there are no exchange trip or club activities? No need to worry because there is always juku. A juku is basically an after-school school. During the summer vacation, many jukus thrive. The emphasis on education and getting into the right school is intense in Japan. As a result jukus do a lot of business in the summer. Extra study classes in your summer vacation may sound like a chore, but believe it or not, some students actually want to go to juku. If many of your friends will attend juku, then it suddenly becomes a more interesting prospect.

By the time September rolls around and it’s time to go back to school, a lot of students may be all studied/activated out. But kids will be kids and it’s questionable whether they actually finished all their homework and studies over the break at all. Luckily there are a string of holidays in September and October to catch up anyway.

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