Once at school, the students usually enter an area full of small lockers in which they place their street shoes and don school slippers. These slippers may be color coded: pink for girls and blue for boys.
At most of Japanese schools, students have to change their shoes. The article says “may be color coded by gender,” but in my experience Those slippers are often color coded with their grade. At my school, for example, I teacher “blue slipper graders.”
Students stay in their homeroom classrooms for most of the school day while the teachers move from room to room, operating out of a central teachers’ room.
I guess it is a large difference from American schools. I sometimes wish if students move to the classroom where I would be when I have much luggage to carry on. Also, teachers often come and go to the teachers’ room.
In most schools, students bring a box lunch from home, almost always consisting of foods prepared by the mother in the early morning hours.
That is true from high school and in most of public junior high school, students have school lunch. In the lunch time, students will take lunch from “school lunch center,” like a big kitchen. Students have lunch at each homeroom classroom. It is not only to have lunch but also to have a chance to know notorious food and table place. Classroom teachers have to take care of it.
Japanese students spend 240 days a year at school, 60 days more than their American counterparts.
Once I had English classes about schools in the world. Students envied that American junior high school students have longer vacations. It seems that Japanese schools have more school events. Those events will get the great memories for students when they graduate.
Course selection and textbooks are determined by the Japanese Ministry of Education.
This statement is slightly incorrect. Textbooks are censored by the ministry, but each school can choose a textbook from the lists in high schools and BOE, board of education, chooses ones in junior high schools. In junior high schools, textbooks are usually updated every five year. BOE make some teacher groups to talk about what textbook is the best for students. I attend the group this year.
At the end of the academic day, all students participate in o soji, the cleaning of the school.
Soji, cleaning, is also unique Japanese school culture. O soji is held every end of school term but we have cleaning every day. Especially in my school, students have to be quiet during clearing time. It is very interesting and some schools do this practice.