Last week–or was it yesterday because I’m still jet-lagged–I got back from Osaka, Japan after a two week adventure with two colleagues and a baker’s dozen grad students in Osaka. We spent a week in schools, which included pre-school, elementary, junior high, and high school with a tour of a university. We saw some amazing things and some not so amazing things. In the end, we grouply decided that kids are kids (and teens are teens, attitude and all). The main difference we saw between US and Japanese students is that the Japanese allow and expect far more independence from their children and they are about two years ahead in math.

We also saw a lot of myths busted. You know those, right? Japanese kids go to school 10 hours a day, 280 days a year? They all wear uniforms and behave…ha! The school day is 5-7 hours, with an extensive, student-run club schedule at the high school. And while Japanese children go to school year-round, it’s a trimester system with plenty of time off. The schools themselves are not aesthetically pleasing. They look like something the US military would build, all concrete and steel. But they are functional, which is what the country values.

The rest of the time, we were tourists. We visited Nara, Kyoto, Himedji, Miajima, Iwakuni, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and other places. Lots of walking, lots of trains, lots of sweating due to it being the rainy season. Lots of good eating—-okonomiyaki, yakisoba, tempura, curried rice, as little sushi as possible for me. Only one trip to a fast-food place (KFC) and none to Mickey D’s.

The whole time, I heard not one cell phone ring. Nada. Zilch. Although everybody had one, it seemed, no one felt the need to advertise it. On the other hand, too much cigarette smoke. The Japanese as a whole aren’t so progressive on personal air space rights, so the stench and lung-lock of second-hand smoke was a fact of life.

There are photos as soon as I get them uploaded.

Written by : thunderchikin

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  1. marypearson July 1, 2006 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing. Yes, I have heard that smoking is a problem in Japan–but also that they have smoking lounges on the streets? I know when I travel, I am acutely aware of smoke. I am so used to going in smoke free restaurants here in CA, it kind of takes me by surprise when out of state someone lights up next to you at dinner. Ha–but I remember the days when you could smoke on airplanes! They had no smoking sections, but darn the smoke didn’t know it couldn’t cross this invisible line.
    But that’s great about the no cell phones ringing. Hurray for them!

  2. tanyaleestone July 3, 2006 at 7:37 am - Reply

    How have I missed this blog? Japan is one of the places I didn’t end up going when I used to travel with my father, sussing out school systems in which to immerse education grad students. I’ve always wanted to go there. Sounds like a fantastic trip.

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