King Kouki Ray, age 12, is a student at a junior school in Shibuya. Back in April, he graduated from elementary school at a simple ceremony at the school gym. He is very happy with how his school life is going.

 

 

The basic school system in Japan is composed of elementary school (lasting six years), middle school (three years), high school (three years), and university (four years). Education is compulsory only for the nine years of elementary and middle school, but 98.8% of students go on to high school.

Japanese children enter the first grade of elementary school in the April after their sixth birthday. There are around 30 to 40 students in a typical elementary school class. The subjects they study include Japanese, mathematics, science, social studies, music, crafts, physical education, and home economics.

Students also learn traditional Japanese arts like Shodo (calligraphy) and haiku. Shodo involves dipping a brush in ink and using it to write kanji (characters that are used in several East Asian countries and have their own meanings) and kana (phonetic characters derived from kanji) in an artistic style.

There are many school events during the year, such as sports day when students compete in events like tug-of-war and relay races, excursions to historical sites, and arts and culture festivals featuring dancing and other performances by children. Students in the highest grades of elementary, middle, and high schools also take trips lasting up to several days to culturally important cities like Kyoto and Nara, ski resorts, or other places.

King Kouki Ray, taking part in his school’s track and field events.

There may be other good places to go to school, but for King Kouki, there’s no place like home.

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