education

Professor Mega Man! Legendary game producer Keiji Inafune to lecture at Osaka college

Professor Mega Man! Legendary game producer Keiji Inafune to lecture at Osaka college

Despite working for video game publisher Capcom for over 20 years, Keiji Inafune didn’t really achieve international name-recognition until the tumultuous tail end of his time with the company. Even if they didn’t know his name, though, gamers everywhere were familiar with his work, as Inafune was involved with some of Capcom’s biggest hits, including Mega Man, Resident Evil, Onimusha, Street Fighter, and Dead Rising.

Inafune got his start as a character designer before moving up to a position as a producer. Now, he’s set to add one more title to his resume: college professor.

Read More

Japanese teacher criticized for attending son’s entrance ceremony instead of her own school’s

Japanese teacher criticized for attending son’s entrance ceremony instead of her own school’s

Each April, as the new academic year starts, it’s customary for schools in Japan to hold an entrance ceremony for incoming students. The new pupils assemble in the auditorium, sit quietly while the principal and teachers make speeches, and often sing the alma mater.

For the students, listening to a bunch of grown-ups drone on about the value of education isn’t exactly riveting, and it’s debatable if the words of wisdom that are imparted really make any difference at all in their academic careers. For parents, though, this is a special day. They can appreciate the ceremony as the rite of passage it is, and it gives them an excuse to snap a picture with their child wearing their brand new uniform, which will quickly become too small for them as they grow up all too soon.

It’s a sentiment any parent can feel, even – or perhaps especially – parents who are educators themselves. However, one high school teacher in Japan is being publicly criticized for skipping her school’s entrance ceremony to attend her son’s, instead.

Read More

Monster parents evolve: The unbelievable demands and complaints made by parents in Japan

Monster parents evolve: The unbelievable demands and complaints made by parents in Japan

‘Monster parents’ aren’t anything new in Japan–the complaints by and about overbearing, demanding mothers and fathers have been on the increase for nearly a decade. But thanks to a report by the FujiTV program Nonstop, the issue has catapulted squarely back into the public conscious.

The show posted some of the crazier complaints allegedly made by these loudmouthed parents to schools and their kids’ teachers, sparking angry and bewildered comments online. We’ve collected some of the best (worst?) below.

Read More

Cosplay fever spreads to Hokkaido, students leave pants at home

Cosplay fever spreads to Hokkaido, students leave pants at home

Twitter user higedi (Ryūta Kitamura) racked up more than 10,000 retweets with this picture of incoming students who were refused entry to Hokkaido University’s entrance ceremony. The students are generally expected to wear formal clothes for the ceremony, so naturally they got out their best cardboard, body paint, and fundoshi (traditional Japanese underwear). That’s just one more way Ronald McDonald is unsettling.

Read More

Where can you find the most academically robust children in all of Japan? Hint: it’s not Osaka…

Where can you find the most academically robust children in all of Japan? Hint: it’s not Osaka…

Which prefectures produce the best kids?

On April 2 the Kyoritsu Research Institute announced their findings of where the ‘best’ kids in the country are brought up, based on an analysis of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)’s 2013 ‘National Aptitude Test and Education Survey’.

Read More

Four ways Japanese isn’t the hardest language to learn

Four ways Japanese isn’t the hardest language to learn

It seems whenever a list of the most difficult languages to learn is released, Japanese sits near or at the top. We can see why, as the language does have quirks and peculiarities that can occasionally make you wonder how anyone, even native speakers, manage to communicate with each other in Japanese.

If we’re being completely honest, we’d love to use one hand to pat ourselves on the back for our Japanese/English bilingual capabilities, while using the other to pat ourselves for surviving in what some are calling the most dangerous country on earth. But that would tie up both hands and we’d be unable to write this article. So instead, today we’re going to explain four ways learning Japanese isn’t nearly as bad as some other languages.

Read More

Chinese census finds hard facts about the differences between Chinese, Japanese and Koreans

Chinese census finds hard facts about the differences between Chinese, Japanese and Koreans

Despite tons of cultural similarities, the people of East Asia’s top three superpowers – Japan, China and Korea – are a wildly different bunch. Not only on a superficial level like clothing choices and which David Bowie song they prefer to sing at karaoke, but also on a deeper and more fundamental level; people in all three countries vary wildly in things like height, education levels and even sexual satisfaction.

According to a new census conducted by a Chinese newsgroup recently, anyway. Here are some of their findings:

Read More

Cute video uses bowing, socks and smiles to teach us the right way to put on a condom

Cute video uses bowing, socks and smiles to teach us the right way to put on a condom

Growing up in dreary North West England and attending Catholic school, my experience of “sex education” amounted to little more than a couple of awkward encounters around the back of a local bowling alley and a guest speaker coming into school one afternoon to show us a selection of gruesome slides labelled with the names of various sexually transmitted diseases. Thankfully, with the help of (painfully slow dial-up) internet access and my surprisingly liberal parents, I managed to piece together enough info to work out what went where and how, and made it to adulthood relatively unscathed, only occasionally feeling pangs of guilt whenever I had impure thoughts about the cute presenter of youth-oriented news programme Newsround.

If only I’d grown up in Japan and had YouTube to hand; with videos like this one from Japanese NPO group Pilcon – which instructs us how to put on a condom in a manner we can only describe as “sex ed meets airline safety demonstration with extra smiles” – I could have learned so much more easily!

But what on earth is that sock thing she has in her hand?

Read More

Tokorozawa school solves budget matter with tasty fruit

Tokorozawa school solves budget matter with tasty fruit

There seems to be something different about the city of Tokorozawa in Saitama Prefecture. Both master-animator Hayao Miyazaki and Kanto-head-turner Cornman hail from this area. Perhaps the reason why such creativity comes from this small city is revealed in a letter from East Tokorozawa Elementary School which informed parents on municipal school board policy during school closures… and gave them fruit.

Read More

Finally, the Ladybeard and Sailor Suit Old Man wrestling match you’ve been waiting for

Finally, the Ladybeard and Sailor Suit Old Man wrestling match you’ve been waiting for

The sudden rise to cult fame of two of Japan’s most beloved crossdressing bearded men, Japanese native “Sailor Suit Old Man” and foreign newcomer Ladybeard, should have been something we had anticipated. Ever since The Kids in the Hall and Monty Python made men dressing like girls more or less acceptable as long as it’s being done ironically, we’ve seen a spate of crossdressing performers rocket to stardom all over the world.

But with these two kawaii titans standing on the brink of Japan-wide fame, it begs the question: Which one would win in a knock-down, drag-out wrestling match?

Read More

English language education in Japan: Are native speakers essential?

English language education in Japan: Are native speakers essential?

Like so many foreigners living in Japan, I first entered the country as an eigo shidou joshu, more commonly known as an Assistant Language Teacher, or ALT for short. Although terms like “grass-roots internationalisation” and “globalisation” are uttered during ALT training seminars and by boards of education across the country with such frequency that you’d swear they’re being sponsored to use them, in reality an ALT’s role at a Japanese junior high school (where the majority in Japan are employed) is to go along to class with a non-native Japanese teacher of English (or JTE) and, as their job title implies, assist in teaching. The idea is that students, particularly those from rural areas, will benefit from the presence of and instruction from a native English speaker.

But are native speakers entirely vital to English language education in Japan? And should native English speakers, rather than Japanese teachers of English, be the ones taking the lead role in the classroom?

Read More

Osaka man caught after teaching junior high for 15 years without a license

Osaka man caught after teaching junior high for 15 years without a license

Back when I was applying for my first Japanese work visa, there was a thick stack of paperwork I had to submit. Most of the items made sense, but one that struck me as weird, though, was my college diploma. I knew that Japanese law required a college education for the visa I was applying for, but wouldn’t sealed, authenticated transcripts make more sense than a personal diploma, which could be easily forged for 20 bucks at any print shop, or even with a high quality home-use printer?

Nope, I was informed, it had to be the diploma. That’s the paperwork they give you when you graduate, right? After all, from the standpoint of honest and by-the-book Japanese society, who would be so dishonest as to provide false educational credentials?

How about a man in Osaka, who taught junior high school for 15 years without ever obtaining his teaching credential.

Read More

Is Japan overworking its teachers? One exhausted educator says, “YES!”

Is Japan overworking its teachers? One exhausted educator says, “YES!”

Japan has a reputation for overworking its employees, though it’s hardly the only country! But when it comes to education, you’d expect Japanese teachers, whose students often score among the top in the world on standardized tests, to be solely focused on their classroom materials. But you might be wrong!

One public middle school teacher has recently gotten a ton of attention online for a blog post about her impossible-to-manage duties as a “club leader” and her desire to actually change occupations due to the intense schedule. Read about her experience and the intense reactions below.

Read More

Report on lousy schools in Japan spurs debate on who’s to blame

Report on lousy schools in Japan spurs debate on who’s to blame

A report last week from the Japanese Ministry of Education about the sorry state of some low-ranked universities, lovingly called “F-rank,” sent ripples through the country and reignited a debate about how to properly prepare students for “life in the real world.” While the Japanese government’s announcement sparked renewed interest in higher education reform, these low-level schools (and their terrible textbooks) have been the butt of jokes on the Internet for years. F-rank universities are notorious for their extremely lax entrance requirements, high student-to-teacher ratio and producing graduates who simply aren’t ready to enter the real world and join a company. Education advocates and people tired of dealing with incompetent co-workers all wanted to share their ideas about how to change the system to avoid a generation of poorly trained workers.

Read More

Korean high schools allow “anything goes” yearbook photos, with hilarious results

Korean high schools allow “anything goes” yearbook photos, with hilarious results

I remember when I was a senior in high school and hung out with a sort of goofy crowd, we all spent several weeks wracking our brains trying to find a way to inject some kind of originality into our senior photos. We knew anything too outrageous or offensive would get stopped by yearbook censors, so about the only thing we could come up with was growing some dirty-looking caterpillar mustaches.

If only we’d been in Korea, where some high schools – realizing that senior year is the last time in their lives that youths really get to act like kids – allow nearly any kind of wacky individual and group photos the kids see fit to take:

Read More

The craziest items Japanese students have taken into college exams

The craziest items Japanese students have taken into college exams

College professors have to put up with a lot of student trolling. The kids are entirely free from parental supervision for the first time in their lives and they’ve had all of high school to dream up great ways to cheat or prank the system once they’ve reached the realm of higher education.

And the rate of trolling is doubtlessly at its highest during midterms and final exams, when the students are just days away from a few months of freedom and are itching for chances to get an edge on the test. So, it’s baffling to us how so many Japanese college professors seem to make the mistake of telling students they can “bring anything” to the final exam. Because of course, hearing that, some kids will bring things like:

Read More

Manga strip exposes the violent underbelly of all-girls schools in Japan

Manga strip exposes the violent underbelly of all-girls schools in Japan

Recent arrivals to Japan are often surprised to find that the country’s educational system has a number of all-girls schools, at levels ranging from elementary to university. To the inexperienced outsider, this can conjure up all sorts of fanciful images of students dressed in petticoat and culottes, gliding gracefully down pastel-painted hallways on their way to the cafeteria to sip and nibble at their lunches of herbal tea and strawberry crepes.

However, often the truth isn’t quite so rose-tinted. After all, both men and women tend to try to put their nicest face forward when members of the opposite gender are around. Many graduates of all-female schools in Japan report that without any incentive to play up the softer sides of their personalities, the girls there can be downright nasty to each other, as illustrated in this short comic.

Read More

Students go nearly a year without textbooks after teacher forgets to hand them out

Students go nearly a year without textbooks after teacher forgets to hand them out

It would seem a small case of absentmindedness has been breaking out in educational institutes around Japan recently. One such case in Japan’s Kumamoto Prefecture saw a handful of students go nearly an entire year without ever receiving some of their “required reading material.”

However, in this and another similar case, it’s hard to say who’s at fault, the teachers who failed to give the proper references out, or the students who neglected to say anything about it.

Read More

Teacher hides touching message to departing students in final test

Teacher hides touching message to departing students in final test

Even though the Japanese kind of have a reputation as stoic individuals reluctant to express emotion, we’ve shown you time and again that the Japanese are suckers for a good heart string-tugging story as much as the people of the next country.

Still, it’s safe to say there’s more than an average amount of social pressure to keep your feelings to yourself in Japan, especially for authority figure types like teachers. Which might explain why the teacher in this next story went to extraordinary lengths to pass on one final message to his recent graduating class.

Read More

School kids in Japan learn about bugs, terrifying miniature horse-beasts and baby Ohmus

School kids in Japan learn about bugs, terrifying miniature horse-beasts and baby Ohmus

Back when I was a kid growing up in Liverpool, we studied only the subjects that were essential for daily life: namely Numbers, Words, Throwing, and of course a selection of moves from the 1983 romantic drama Flashdance. There was no time for art or creativity, and we were only ever allowed outdoors to collect firewood or when the time came to offer up a sacrifice to The Beast.

So it’s great to see that school kids in Japan are given a chance to learn the things that really matter, like identifying a Japanese rhinoceros beetle from a lineup of frightening, hopefully imaginary, creatures.

Read More

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5