Jul 16, 2018

Tough as nails - Japan's attitude towards kids and school activities

We've really enjoyed our introduction to Japan's education system. Our daughter is only three, but her preschool puts a focus on a lot of great activities - everything from getting out into their school garden and helping to grow plants, through to partaking in cultural activities and festivals. 

One thing that my husband and I weren't probably expecting though was that to us, physically it seems like they expect much more from kids over here! 

Late last week, our daughter's school held their mikoshi festival, where each class made a fun looking "shrine" and paraded it around the streets of our local area. We were able to go and watch, but the thing that surprised us is that they had a three year old class walk multiple blocks in the summer humidity to show off their mikoshi. It was probably about 45 minutes each way (taking into account toddler walking speeds!) and whilst they thankfully got to stop half way for drinks and popsicles, it still took it out of them - there were loads of kids, mine included, who were straight up drenched in sweat. I sent a picture of my daughter to a friend back home, and she thought that it was some kind of water festival because she assumed that's why her hair looked all wet.

Back home? I doubt that school teachers would ever plan a walk like that for kids of that age, let alone actually going ahead with it if the weather was as stifling as it was. My high school back home even had an early dismissal policy for days of extreme heat, but here in Japan I see school students out playing sport in the middle of the day when it's stinking hot! I don't know how they do it - maybe it is just being conditioned to be more tough!

How do the rest of you find your school's approach to physical activities for kids? Is it more intense than what you'd expect from schools back home?

Tough as nails - Japan's attitude towards kids and school activities photo

It was about 35c and incredibly humid on the day the 3 year old class went on their mikoshi walk!



After spending the last several years in the beating heart of Tokyo, I will be spending the next three in the countryside of Japan. I adore this country and all it has to offer - and I'm always learning more and more about life here as I go along!


  • edthethe

    on Jul 16

    The idea of pushing kids until they faint or get sick from heat stroke terrifies me. they did it at my middle school I worked and I know of two kids who fainted at my girl's elementary this year. But no one puts up any fight when they tell kids that they have to sit out in the direct sun if they arent allowed in the pool during pe pool class.

  • genkidesu

    on Jul 16

    @edthethe you know, I had thought about that too, that someone was likely to pass out because it was a lot for them to handle. I was thinking if I should say that it's too much for these kids (in my opinion), or will I then seem like the overly sensitive outspoken gaijin who expects the rules and the traditions to change for me?