Is the Japanese educational system equivalent to ours? Or is it those distinctive elements in their classrooms that make them the super-powerful nation they are today? We invite you to review some concepts you have surely seen in anime series, which reflect the reality of student life in Japan.
Bukatsu – The club defines student life
The theme of school clubs or Bukatsu (extracurricular activities) is very recurrent in manga and anime, regardless of genre. In Japan, there are clubs of all kinds, perhaps the most famous ones are sports and martial arts, but there are also clubs for literature, calligraphy, art, and cooking among many others. There is also a club for essay writing which will make you a good essay writer.
The purpose of Bukatsu is to contribute to the integral formation of the students. In addition, it allows the development of specific skills related to their area of interest and lays the foundations for collaborative work, which is extremely important for Japan.
Moreover, the importance of clubs is such that students tend to mention the club they belong to as a letter of introduction. That is why in our favorite anime, we always see characters who belong to a club or wish to find one.
Finally, as an example, we leave you with this great anime, Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu, whose protagonist is the founder of her own club. But it is not the only anime where we see this. In Ranma ½, there was the famous Kendo club, and in Haykyuu and Free, sports clubs are the ones who steal the scene.
If you are given the option to join a school club or have a student life in anime, what would it be?
Juken – The college entrance ritual
Have you ever wondered why even in anime characters study like there’s no tomorrow? This is mainly because students will have to take college entrance exams at some point. Taking these exams is called Juken.
Basically, all the effort students put in at school is aimed at that moment, as university entrance in Japan involves high levels of competition.
In the case of private universities, knowledge is evaluated in areas such as English, Mathematics, Science, Japanese language, and Social Studies. But there is more, and each faculty sets its own exams. In the case of public universities, students must first pass the Senta Shiken, an exam where students choose a wide range of subjects and take the test according to their interests. With this, it is not surprising that even an assassin like Kira or a prodigy detective like L, does not stop studying to enter the university.
Student life in anime – The pressure to be the perfect student
Being a perfect student in Japan, having high grades, doing extracurricular activities, and being popular seems to be the ideal profile in Japanese schools.
That is precisely what happens in Karekano. We know that the story’s protagonists are not the perfect figures they appear to be, or at least not as we are shown at first.
Karekano is a good example of many students’ sacrifices before entering college. He shows us that entrance exams alone are not enough because in order to work in a good company, you must have studied at a good university, and you can only get that if you have a good academic record.
For this reason, the pressure to be the perfect student starts from an early age in Japan. And when we say early, it can be as early as five years old.
An example of how strong this theme is is Doraemon, where Nobita was always scolded for having bad grades even though he was in his first years of school. In other words, if you don’t study early age, it is immediately understood that your future may not be very bright in Japan.
Bunkasai, festivals, and culture are also a part of the education
You surely have come across that image where a school festival is taking place in more than one anime. We tell you that these festivals are held yearly in schools and even in universities all over Japan.
These festivals are called Bunkasai and are a space for students to showcase their artistic and academic achievements during the year. That’s why the festival’s name may vary depending on the school level. For example, in schools, they are called Bunkasai. In universities, they are called Daigakusai. In Kindergartens they are called seikatsu-happyou-kai, meaning “an exhibition of daily life,” and finally, in elementary schools, they are called gakugei-kai or gakushu-happyou-kai, meaning “an exhibition of learning.”
Bunkasai is open to all kinds of audiences, and student participation is compulsory in schools, while in universities, it is optional. These festivals offer various activities and services, such as games, concerts, and even cafeterias. They are usually held on November 3, which is Japan’s national day.