Useful Notes: Japanese Education System
Over the years, the educational system has gone through major changes and reformations. The beginning of formal education dates back to the 6th century and the adoption of the Chinese culture. The Meiji Restoration and the World War II were important highlights in the restructure of the system. In the present day, education in Japan is structured into 6 years of elementary school, 3 years of junior high and 3 years of senior high. Classes begin in April, around the time Cherry Blossoms are in bloom, and are held from Monday to Friday or Saturday.
- Kindergarten (幼稚園 Yōchien): Children from 3-6 may enter kindergarten or day-care facilities. The educational approach in these ages varies, with some only functioning as playing facilities, while others are specifically equipped to prepare the child to pass tests in order to enter a private elementary school. Kindergarten is optional.
- Elementary school (小学校 Shōgakkō): At age 6, children are obligated to enter elementary school, which is composed of 6 grades. Classes begin early in the morning and last approximately 6 hours. Entering elementary school is seen as an event of great importance, a stepping stone that shapes the child's life. While most of the population enrolls in public schools, there is a great amount of competition for some of the more prestigious private schools.
- Junior high school (中学校 chūgakkō): Ages 13-15 attend Junior high.
- High School (高校 kōkō): Ages 15-18 attend high school, in preparation for university. High school is not compulsory, but very few stop their education at Junior high. Japanese, English, mathematics and science are important subjects to graduates.