education

Kumamoto preschool designed to become a giant puddle when it rains

Kids will be kids. And being kids, one of the things they are inevitably going to do is play in rain puddles. No matter how they might be scolded later, the sheer joy of splish-splashing through some nice big puddles exerts an irresistible magnetic force on little feet.

Rather than trying to reign in that youthful inclination, one preschool in Japan is embracing it through a central courtyard designed to collect water when it rains.

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People in Japan are tearing up over these two cram school commercials【Videos】

Love it or hate it, cram school, or juku in Japanese, is one part of Asian academic culture that looks like it’s here to stay.

Although most cram schools tend to advertise before entrance exam season begins and towards the end of the Japanese school year in March, recently more and more children are starting to attend summer study courses as well.

Gearing up for summer vacation, Waseda Academy put out two promotional commercials highlighting the determination of spirited youth, which have left Japanese viewers so moved they couldn’t help but shed a few tears while watching.

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Brain teaser that is no problem for a six-year-old stumps the rest of us

The humble brain teaser manages to make us feel frustrated and really dumb all at the same time, but often you will find that these questions are used to test the intellectual aptitude of prospective students. One question on an entrance exam for a Hong Kong elementary school has gone viral and it’s leaving adults a little stumped. On the other hand, the six-year-olds the question is aimed at are having no problem solving this brain teaser. Can you answer the question that an elementary school student can get in about twenty seconds, or are you stumped like the rest of the adults?

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Clever textbook for learners of Japanese teaches with drama, romance, and twist endings

Even as a guy who’s spent all of his adult life, and before that a good chunk of his juvenile one, studying Japanese, I’ve never been completely sold on the concept that the process of learning a foreign language has to be made “fun” at each and every stage. While you can break high-level linguistic concepts into intermediate ones, when you get down to a language’s most fundamental components, they’re really just a collection of arbitrary sounds that a group of people implicitly decided to use in the same way in order to give them meaning.

As such, there’s always going to be a certain amount of rote memorization involved with becoming actually proficient with a foreign language. But once those core concepts are introduced, they’re definitely going to stick in your memory better if they’re presented and demonstrated in a colorful way, which might be the logic behind this textbook for learners of Japanese that contains dramatic tales of romance, disease, and devotion.

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Math-solving phone app is the quickest way to self-study, skip homework, and/or fail your tests

I think we can all agree that math is a pretty handy thing to understand, right? A basic concept of things like fractions and algebraic equivalents is what keeps us from getting taken advantage of by con men who make such tempting offers as trading two of their shiny monies (or even three!) for our one paper money when the latter is actually of greater value.

Still, basic math is all about following the proper procedures to arrive at the one true solution, which is why you don’t get partial credit for having the wrong answer on your math assignment just because you took a novel approach and wrote the numbers with nice penmanship. As such, you can program a machine to spit out the answer in a fraction of a second, and with a new smartphone app, all you have to do is snap a picture of the math problem, and let the app take over from there.

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Running out of time on your assignment? Take some advice from the Internet

Juggling school life and regular life isn’t always easy. Sometimes you’ve got a million things to do and deadlines are coming down on you hard and fast, and you just need that little bit of extra time to finish up your paper. If you are this sneaky Japanese student, though, you’ve found a way to make technology seemingly going wrong make everything all right.

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Enjoy a little lesson in Japanese sign language – it may prevent serious misunderstandings someday

I always thought sign language had a certain elegance and grace to it, and I always wanted to learn it. But like many other things in life such as fashion design and ice sculpting there was never a pressing need master it, especially with my busy schedule of eating wasps.

Luckily, short programs often shown on TV and many videos online teach a few useful words in sign language and allow me to pick it up bit by bit. Now, I’d like to share a few of these so that we can all learn and better ourselves just a little bit.

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New crossover skirt Japanese school swimsuits are elegantly cute, available in adult sizes

During the swimming portion of their P.E. classes, students in Japan are required to wear what’s commonly referred to as a “school swimsuit.” In the case of girls, this means a black or dark blue one-piece, and while that’s less revealing than a bikini, some would still rather have something that covers a bit more of their legs.

Bringing to market an alternative is Japanese swimwear maker Footmark, which has just released this new skirted design that manages to be cute and stylish while still keeping its wearers’ hips and backside completely covered.

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University students in Gifu Prefecture can now earn credits while working at Aeon shopping mall

On April 15, representatives from Gifu Prefecture’s Chubu Gakuin University and its affixed junior college reached an agreement with Japan’s major retailer Aeon that will allow university students to earn credits while working part-time in paid internships. The deal was born out of a desire to provide students with more practical work experience while at the same time strengthening ties to the surrounding community.

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Is this the coolest kindergarten in the world? Probably 【Pics & Video】

Does the architecture of a building have an effect on the lives of the people inside of it? One famous Japanese architect thinks so and we’re pretty convinced now too.

Takaharu Tezuka, a Tokyo-based architect, designed a revolutionary kindergarten building that not only lets the kids run free, but also teaches them about life.

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Voice actress’ art history lecture will soothe you into a power nap, may help your test scores

When I was a student, there were a handful of teachers whose lectures had a better than even chance of putting me to sleep. As a matter of fact, in classrooms that had a mix of furniture, I always tried to avoid grabbing a seat with one of those one-armed, half desks attached to it, because they were less comfortable to doze off on.

Of course, I’m sure my teachers would have rather I’d stayed awake the whole time. But hey, a well-rested mind is a critical component of the learning process, right? That’s why one educational company in Japan has produced this video lecture, starring a famous anime voice actress, with the specific goal of putting you to sleep.

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You haven’t really graduated unless you were dressed as Tetris 【Photos】

Springtime in Japan means graduation season, and for increasing numbers of students that means cosplay. And with years of costuming excellence preceding them, students of Kyoto University have a lot to live up to. This year’s grads didn’t disappoint, though!

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Everything looks better in anime, even correspondence courses 【Video】

Comedian Dave Chappelle once said that “Everything looks better in slow motion,” since time seems to slow down during the coolest moments of music videos. But you could make the same statement about Japanese animation.

Don’t believe us? Here’s an animated short that somehow manages to make taking a correspondence course in high school math feel beautiful and dramatic, proving that everything looks better in anime.

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Japanese Netizens (and the rest of the world) confused by America’s imperial measurement system

Last year, one of our Japanese reporters went on an extended visit to the United States. While he had plenty of nice things to say about the country, he also had some complaints, and, as an American myself, I can’t really say that I blame the guy. Having to drive literally everywhere unless you live in one of maybe three specific cities is a major hassle and a huge drain on your budget, certain services seem staffed entirely by people who are barely even aware of your existence or what’s going on more than a few inches on either side of their smartphone, and yes, the police are a little on the brutal side and drunk on their own power a lot of the time no matter how you slice it (annnnnd… now I’m on an NSA watchlist. Hi, guys!).

But, there’s one complaint our reporter had that I just can’t relate to: how crazy America’s systems of measurement are.

I mean, I grew up with feet, inches, pounds and whatnot, so I can’t really speak to our reporter’s profound confusion. Is it really so bad? We had to find out, so we donned our troll-proof vests and dove deep into the smelly, dark recesses of 2chan to see what other Japanese Netizens thought of America’s wacky measurement systems:

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Someone in Japan hits on killer formula for textbook covers: stick a cute anime girl on there!

Do you remember the characters in your school textbooks? Perhaps you have fond memories of doodling in the margins and augmenting the illustrations.

Well, just when we were thinking that study guides in Japan in recent years were all looking a little bit same-y, some clever marketing person (or, more likely, about 100 clever marketing people) has come up with a one-step technique for designing these educational guides. It doesn’t matter whether it’s history, philosophy, social studies or English – just put a smart, cute anime girl on the front cover!

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Four Los Angeles “schools” closed for fraud, arranged visas for fake exchange students

It’s no joke that living and studying in the US costs a pretty penny. So, instead of paying the hefty tuitions of universities on top of living expenses, some young foreigners have been taking a sneakier route to staying in the States.

Recently some “students” have been opting for “institutions” like the four schools recently closed down for fraud in Los Angeles, which function under a “pay-to-stay” program, where the “students” basically pay for a student visa with no expectations of attending classes, wishing only to stay and work in the U.S.

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Tiffany necklaces?! Are recent grads’ commemorative gifts from their high schools too much?

Take a moment to think back to your high school graduation. As recent or as long ago as it may have been, do you recall getting a present from your school; a nice momentum to celebrate your years there? Some of us did not even get a card from our schools, but many students in Japanese high schools, on the other hand, often get commemorative gifts, such as key chains, mugs, card holders, pearl necklaces or designer wallets

Yeah, you read that correctly. While not all graduation gifts are worthy enough to post about on the internet, this year, some kids, from apparently high-rolling educational institutions, have been posting pictures of commemorative gifts more exquisite than you could ever imagine getting from your high school or even university, for that matter.

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Students at new online high school in Japan make anime-style avatars for virtual campus

As society and education changes, Japan is slowly opening up to the idea of online high school courses. But while modern technology makes video lessons and email correspondence easy to implement, some things are still lost in the transition to a virtual classroom setting. One major issue is the lack of ability to affirm your own individuality, as well as the increased difficulty of building bonds with other students without any sort of visual representation of their identities.

Hoping to alleviate these problems is a new online high school in Japan that requires students to create anime-style online avatars, and even provides a simulated school campus for them to mingle in.

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Japan’s craziest ad ever? English school commercial as likely to make kids terrified as bilingual

The very first job that brought me to Japan as a gainfully employed adult was teaching at a private English school. While most of our customers were in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, we also offered kids’ classes, even for preschool-aged children.

With young learners, the first hurdle to get past was for them to not freak out about talking with someone from a different country. While that might sound horribly racist, there just aren’t that many opportunities to meet people from other cultures in Japan, especially in a child’s daily life, and the first meeting was usually a little intimidating for them (the company policy that didn’t allow foreign staff to speak Japanese in front of the customers probably didn’t help in this regard).

Thankfully, it usually only took a couple of minutes for the kids to see that non-Japanese instructors aren’t terrifying monsters. Unfortunately, this startling commercial for a chain of children’s English schools in Japan only takes 15 seconds to visually imply that, yes, actually, they are.

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Japanese educators call for twice monthly No Video Game Days, recommend kids go fishing

Compared to some other countries, video games enjoy a fairly high standing in Japanese society. Nintendo’s Mario is seen by many as not only a symbol of wholesome fun, but an example of how innovation and craftsmanship can lead to sustained economic prosperity. The world of Final Fantasy isn’t just a great setting for an epic quest, but for lunch or dinner, and some particularly stylish game characters even go on to leave their mark on real-world fashion.

Still, not everyone in Japan is a fan of video gaming. The Hokkaido Board of Education would rather see kids with schoolbooks or fishing poles in their hands than game controllers, and to that end is calling for parents to institute twice monthly No Game Days, and not just for the kids in the family.

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