Welcome back to our blog and I hope you all had a lovely summer! Did you manage to go on a beach holiday this year? Busy at work? Lots of BBQ parties? Whatever you did, wherever you were, hope it was an amazing one! You can read how Japanese people spend summer in general on our blog ‘Spending a Summer in Japan’ and ‘Summer Greetings in Japan’ Have you ever wondered how Japanese children in Japan spend their summer holidays? Typically for the children in Japan, summer holiday is not really for relaxing time but actually is a very busy one. And I’ll tell you why…
The academic year in Japan begins in April and ends in March, having a summer holiday in August. Children are given a lot of homework for the longest holiday during the school year, they are usually busy trying to finish it. My children go to a local school in the UK, and I know they don’t have any homework for the summer as the school year ends in July here. As a Japanese person, it was a little surprising to learn there is no homework nor any studying during the summer holiday! Here are typical topics for homework for primary school students.
The Summer Reading Challenge is a very popular activity to encourage children to read as many books as possible during the holiday in the UK, whereas in Japan, children are set to read one book of their choice and write a review. National Book Review competition is held annually. There are 5 categories: Primary School (divided into 3 groups: lower, middle, and upper years), junior high school (equivalent to secondary school) and high school (equivalent to sixth form). The competitor chooses a book, this can be either one from assigned books or a choice of yours from any genre. They are required to write a review within certain numbers of letters: 800 letters (approx. 440 words) for lower primary school age, 1200 letters (approx. 660 words) for upper primary school age and 2000 letters (approx. 1100 words) for junior high school or high school students. Their reviews are submitted to their school first and they need to be chosen to be entered to the National competition.
Children can choose any kind of preferred topic to do their own research. The topic can be crafts, science (an observation of a creature or a plant for example), local traditions, foods, current affairs… the list goes on. Children bring their work in to school after the summer holidays and they will be displayed in the classroom or even have an opportunity to give a presentation of their independent research. This homework can be a tricky one for those who are not keen to do their own research. For some, it is easier to tackle if they are given something specific to do. Having said that, it is not to be marked therefore many children tend to just Google some ideas for topics and choose something relatively easy.
This is a very popular homework that children write and draw their memories of the summer holiday in a diary with a picture. They need to write down daily weather and temperature so this can be a challenge for someone who tends to procrastinate. Some children who forget keeping the diary daily, try finish writing a week or even a month worth of diary in one go. Nowadays it is just a click of a button to get any information on internet including past daily weather, on the other hand, internet was not widely available when I was at school, so I remember cheekily gathering the information from old newspapers!
Some junior high school students and high school students attend summer schools to study more and to prepare for entrance exams for further education. Some are busy at school club activities too. They sometimes play away matches and go on a training camp during summer holidays. That’s all for summer holidays for children in Japan. You might have thought it sounds a lot of work for them despite being in a holiday time. Traditionally in Japan, we send lucky charms to those who are working hard to accomplish something, and studying hard to achieve great score on tests and to pass exams are often one of the reasons to be sent them.
September here is the start of the new school year, some start at a new school as well. To give positive energy and encouragement for the new challenge ahead of them, how about gifting them our Good luck Feng Shui cats and owls, Omamori lucky charms, or perhaps Daruma Dolls? Are you following us on Instagram and Facebook? This is where we share all of our new-in items, so come and join us!