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Japanese High School

On student exchange in Japan you will go to baseball games, sing at karaoke clubs and eat mouthwatering food. Japan embraces futuristic technology, pop culture and bold fashion, yet it is rooted in tradition.

Each school is different

In many countries, all high schools are pretty much the same, but in Japan, schools are very strict regarding punctuality and their attitude to their school work. Each school has its own rules, culture and character, and this means students feel a lot of school pride. To show off this pride, schools have annual school festivals, with social events, performances and parades.  Be prepared for an active student exchange in Japan.  

Friendly teachers

Japanese teachers are friendly, and they work closely with the students. In Japan, as in every other country, it is important to respect your teachers, but students in Japan get to know their teachers well. They are important figures in students’ lives, and as an exchange student you can approach them during and after school if you have any questions. Often, teachers are also sports coaches or leaders of activities clubs. 

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Take off your shoes

Students in Japan take off their shoes before school, and sometimes they might wear special shoes in school. Every student has a shoebox for storing shoes.

Activities clubs

After-school activities clubs are important to Japanese students. They participate in sports, musical bands, school newspapers and many other activities. During your high school exchange, it is important to get involved in these clubs as soon as possible. You will make friends, improve your language skills and, most important, have a great time. 


Japanese schools can be fun, but do not be late for class! It is not accepted, and if you are late you will get a detention, which means staying after school. 

Typical day at a Japanese high school

6:30 a.m. Wake up for school. Most students ride a bike or take a train to school, and you need to have enough time to eat breakfast and get dressed before you leave. In Japan it is not unusual to travel up to an hour on public transport to get to school.

8:30 a.m. The school day begins with a homeroom meeting. Don’t be late!

9:00 a.m. Classes begin. You might have Japanese history, mathematics or something else.

10:00 a.m. Time for your second class of the day. It could be biology or physical education.

12:00 noon. Lunch time! Japanese schools have cafeterias where students can buy reasonably priced lunch. Many students bring lunch from home. This is a time to enjoy conversation with your friends.

1:00 p.m. You have more classes in the afternoon, such as Japanese government or physics.

3:00 p.m. School is over for the day, but that does not mean your day is over. Most Japanese students participate in after-school sports or activities. And when you get home, you will have a couple hours of homework each night.

Middle school and upper school

The Japanese secondary school system is split into middle and upper schools. EF exchange students in Japan usually attend upper schools.

Middle schools are for students who are about 12 to 15 years old. Upper schools are for students who are about 16 to 18 years old. If you are an exchange student in Japan with EF, you will most likely be enrolled in upper school.

Preparation for university

Japanese students are not required to attend upper schools, but most students do. Many are preparing for university, although other students ultimately attend vocational schools or join the workforce. 

Different cities have different activities and classes

Because each school is different and each school is given a lot of independence, you will get a unique experience, no matter where you study as an exchange student. 


Japanese schools teach a liberal arts curriculum of humanities and science, and the focus is on forming “well-rounded” students. Some classes you might take during your student exchange year include: 

  • Mathematics
  • Geography
  • Japanese history
  • Physics
  • Physical education
  • Japanese composition
  • Chemistry

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