Requested by the students themselves, the afternoon siesta is designed to improve concentration levels and protect the environment.
Kakogawa Junior High School in Kakogawa City, Hyogo Prefecture, is currently trialling a ten-minute afternoon nap time for students in order to increase attention spans and conserve electricity. Dubbed the “Kakogawa Siesta”, the idea was first raised by members of the student council in a meeting with the Mayor and members of the local council at City Hall in August last year during a special session called “Kakogawa Junior High School Parliament”. During the meeting, the 12-member student body mentioned that a previous afternoon nap trial at a Japanese high school showed positive outcomes for student learning, and requested that the system be implemented at a junior high school level. They also expressed their desire to conserve energy as another reason to go ahead with the project.
▼ Students put forth their ideas at City Hall in August 2015.
On advice of the local Superintendent of Education, it was decided that the afternoon nap time should be tested first, on a trial basis. In response, student council members put forth a commencement date of 14 June, which has now been implemented, with the “Kakogawa Siesta” currently being held after lunch for ten minutes, between 1:05 p.m. and 1:15 p.m. each school day. During the designated nap period, the lights are turned off, curtains drawn, and students in all classrooms lay their heads on their desks for a brief period of shut-eye. Teachers are also encouraged to join in too.
While the break time is designed for sleeping, it’s essentially up to the students if they want to take a nap, with no student being forced to participate. When reporters visited the school for the first session, however, the large majority of students were keen to put their heads down to relax in the darkened classrooms.
Following the trial, which is due to conclude on 21 June, students will be surveyed to find out whether the ten-minute nap time had any positive effects on their minds and behaviour. While it’s uncertain whether the siesta will be implemented on a permanent basis, students at the school report feeling refreshed and clear-minded after the breaks. Staff at the school are also very keen to support the program, as it was an idea that originated from the students themselves and they would like to encourage their students as much as possible.