education

Tokyo University campus has its own sushi restaurant where great dining meets higher education

No matter how scholastically talented you are, it’s hard to concentrate on an empty stomach. Even the bright minds at Tokyo University, Japan’s most prestigious institute of higher learning, need to take a break from studying and grab some chow now and again.

Of course, it’s hard to give yourself a mental recharge eating bland cafeteria food. Thankfully, that’s not a concern for the students of Tokyo University’s Kashiwa Campus, who’re lucky enough to have an amazing sushi restaurant right on the school grounds.

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Nobel Prize-winner Shuji Nakamura to Japan’s young people: “Get out of Japan”

In 2014, Dr. Shuji Nakamura, along with two other scientists, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for his work in creating bright blue LEDs. In 1993, Nakamura held only a master’s degree and worked with just one lab assistant for a small manufacturer in rural Japan, yet he was able to find a solution that had eluded some the highest paid, best-educated researchers in the world.

If his story ended there, he would no doubt be the poster boy for Japanese innovation and never-say-die spirit, but in the years since his discovery, he has instigated a landmark patent case, emigrated to the US, given up his Japanese citizenship and become a vocal critic of his native country. Last week, the prickly professor gave his first Japanese press conference since picking up his Nobel and he had some very succinct advice for young Japanese: Leave.

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Haruki Murakami’s advice on how to be a great writer: Be born with talent

Among contemporary writers, there’s no Japanese author with a bigger international following than Haruki Murakami. The novelist and translator is also highly respected within his home country, as Japan holds an especially deep respect for any of its citizens who succeed in making a name for themselves on the international stage.

As such, we imagine one young graduate student was hoping for some sage advice when she contacted Murakami and asked him for pointers on how to become a better writer. The response she got was as surprising, unique, and challenging as Murakami’s books themselves.

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QR codes and pop culture, what are you doing in my textbooks?

Textbooks are boring. There is too much text, few pictures and back in our school days you had to accept whatever was in the textbook and struggle through it. It was an uphill battle…both ways! But with all the advancements and conveniences of technology, why not bring a little of the 21st century into the classroom?

Textbooks around Japan have been incrementally upping their game with QR codes, “hip” songs and whatever else to keep students entertained and excited about learning. But sometimes these advances in textbook technology don’t provide any benefit, and actually confuse more than they teach.

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Nihon-no: Is an entirely English-speaking village coming to Tokyo?

What is the best way to learn a language? Many foreign people in Japan will tell you living here and being immersed in Japanese is a pretty good way to pick up the lingo. When you realize you have to be able to speak and understand the language in order to live your daily life, it certainly becomes a huge motivation to make the Japanese language your own.

Do you know what isn’t a particularly good method of learning a language? Four classes a week of language learning taught in your native language with little to no chances to utilize what you’ve learned.

As the whole world knows, the Olympic Games will be held in Tokyo in 2020, and Tokyo wants to be as prepared as possible. The city is trying to do everything it can to improve its citizens’ grasp of English, and there is now talk of plans to create an “English Village” where everything will be conducted in the language so many Japanese wish they were fluent in.

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Dark Horizon textbooks go beyond “Hello my name is…” to “Who are you calling a bitch, bitch!”

Those who have taught English at a school in Japan would likely have encountered the New Horizon textbook series. Starting off with the basics of English, it takes students through a series of Rockwellian incidents such as “my grandma who goes to baseball games, but doesn’t know the rules.”

One man who has clearly gone through these idyllic situations one too many times is Brain Reyes. Taking New Horizon’s main characters ten years into their bleak futures, he has written a new version of the English textbook: Dark Horizon.

A piece which seems created to exorcise the memories of New Horizon for both student and teacher alike, it also provides uniquely useful phrases you’re not likely to find in any other textbook including “I love you like a fat kid loves cake” and “That’s not just any stack of boxes, that’s my house.”

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Japanese town axes milk from school lunches, debate likely to wage until cows come home

I’ve lost count of the number of Japanese people I’ve met who were disappointed to find out I don’t have what they consider quintessential American eating habits. The last time I had a steak was a year ago. I’m perfectly happy eating rice, and I love fish, since, you know, I grew up in California, which is a coastal state (same ocean as Japan has, too).

But there’s one stereotype I do conform with, and that’s how much I love milk, despite being a full-grown adult. Many Japanese people, on the other hand, associate the drink with their childhood, since it’s been served in elementary schools for decades.

One city in Niigata Prefecture, though, has decided it has no more tolerance for drinkable lactose, and starting this month, is removing milk from its school lunches.

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Library in Zhejiang Province welcomes readers from all walks of life, including the homeless

There’s something wonderfully relaxing and welcoming about libraries. Not only are they full of good things to read, their quiet, contemplative atmosphere makes them the perfect place for introspective people to hang out in, too. The sanctity of a library can’t be broken by the rabble of everyday life, and perhaps that’s why homeless people in Zhejiang Province, China have taken to holing up in Hangzhou Municipal Library.

The library staff have garnered praise online for “allowing” homeless people to read there, but aren’t libraries for everyone, after all? Join us after the jump for some snapshots of homeless patrons enjoying some quiet time with a book.

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China’s “Professor Beauty” captures the attention of her junior high students, and coworkers too

It must be hard to hold the attention of a class full of junior high students. Sure, they’re old enough to understand that education is important, but still, it can be hard for the young mind to focus. Especially for male students, with their hormones churning away as they hit puberty, many of them would rather be spending their time looking at pretty girls than listening to their teacher talk.

Of course, one teacher in China doesn’t have to worry about that, since she’s a pretty girl herself, and so much so that even her coworkers have taken to calling her “Professor Beauty.”

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Eyes on your own paper! 1,200 Chinese students take test outdoors to prevent cheating 【Photos】

Proponents of outdoor learning, in which organized education takes outside the schoolhouse, say there are a number of benefits to the approach. Aside from fostering better communication skills and self-esteem, advocates hold that open-air class sessions lead to lower stress levels and greater respect for the natural environment.

None of those seemed to be the goal of a recent test session in China, though, where over 1,000 students took their tests outside a single school.

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The best way to learn English: a stereotypically inaccurate textbook!

At RocketNews24, we’ve covered how English education in Japan is currently faring, with many people agreeing that much can be done to improve it. Of the many problems, one improvement could certainly be the textbook, which many people believe is bland, uses English improperly and teaches English that feels very outdated. What’s needed is something that surpasses all those inadequacies and features English students would encounter in real life.

Well, how about a textbook that includes dialogues where people use bribes, exploit other people’s weaknesses and make giant broad stereotypes about countries as a whole? Yes, let’s try something like that!

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5 powerful reasons to be a woman in Japan 【Women in Japan Series】

It’s no secret that Japan continually lands at the bottom in global gender gap reports. In 2012, the World Economic Forum ranked Japan 101 in regard to women’s participation in the economy and politics. In 2013, Japan placed 105 (out of 135 countries), putting it behind Burkina Faso in gender equality.

Based on these findings, you may think it doesn’t seem like Japan is a very good country for women, but you’d be wrong. While there are huge shortcomings in gender gaps in the workplace, economy and politics, in other sectors of Japanese society some would would argue that Japanese women have “too much” power.

Let’s take a look at five areas where women are most powerful in Japan.

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Are virtual reality schools the future of education in Japan?

Don’t like going to high school? Instead of physically going to campus and dealing with other whiney teens and your annoying teachers, you could send an avatar to go to a virtual school for you! Starting next spring, a private correspondence school in Chiba Prefecture called Meisei Cyber High School is opening its virtual doors!

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Why are some Japanese preschools banning awesome, adorable character bento?

Considering how much Japan loves food and cute things, it’s no surprise that the country is in the middle of a chara-ben boom. Chara-ben, bento boxed lunches with their contents arranged like popular characters such as Hello Kitty and Doraemon, are a hit with adults and children alike, as parents seem to be having as much fun making them as their kids are eating them.

But not everyone loves this trend of culinary creativity, though, as some preschools and day care centers have started banning chara-ben.

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Thai schoolgirl uniforms poised to edge out traditional Japanese ones in Japan?

It looks like Japanese girls can’t get enough of schoolgirl uniforms these days. Once loathed by their wearers as stuffy, boring and a symbol of conformity (pretty much kryptonite to teenagers), Japanese girls have – over the last few decades – come to embrace the schoolgirl uniform as a sexy, fashionable and customizable wardrobe choice in and out of the classroom.

The problem, though: It looks like it isn’t Japanese schoolgirl uniforms that girls really want nowadays. What they really want are Thai schoolgirl uniforms.

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What’s wrong with English education in Japan? Pull up a chair…

When you speak to foreign English educators in Japan, one thing becomes crystal clear: English education in Japan isn’t working. It’s just awful. While English classes are mandatory in Japanese schools, the percentage of students who emerge with actual English abilities are surprisingly low. Students in China, Korea and Japan are in an arms race to see who can produce students with the best English, and Japan seems to be trailing far behind in third place.

With the Olympic Games coming up in 2020, the Japanese government has proposed changes to increase the level of English ability in their students. Changes like starting introductory English classes in 3rd grade elementary school and making the subject compulsory from the 5th grade. Are these changes really going to help? We’ve gathered opinions from both foreign teachers and Japanese citizens about issues with the system and what might improve it.

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English-learning smartphone app teaches Japanese students to say “I just took a dump”

While the English edition of RocketNews24 is primarily focused on Asia in general and Japan in particular, our Japanese-language sister site, Pouch, covers stories from around the world. Sometimes, the source information they work with is in English, so Pouch’s team members are always on the lookout for ways to brush up their language skills.

So we weren’t shocked to hear that one of Pouch’s writers, Marie, had recently gotten really into a new English-learning smartphone app. What did surprise us, though, was when we took a look at the phrases she was learning, including such nuggets as, “I just took a dump.”

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Chinese parenting posters from 1952 gave insightful advice that still makes plenty of sense today

When the word “education” pops up, most of the time, the first thing that comes to mind is education for children. While parents and adults in general are often concerned about educating our future leaders, we tend to forget that parents need education too because, unfortunately, parenting skills do not come as a bonus with the birth of a baby.

A set of parenting posters produced in Shanghai in 1952 reveals some golden words that were given to parents of that time. Time and technology may have changed the way parents and children interact these days, but these 62-year-old parenting tips are surprisingly relevant even today.

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Hacker Mom takes on Gamer Son in China, erases his accounts for the sake of education

For hardcore video gamers, life is a never-ending series of battles as they try to overcome the next boss, unlock achievements, or climb up the online leader boards. And for some of their parents, life is a never-ending series of battles as they try to get their kids to stop doing all that and study.

While more honorable gamers limit themselves to utilizing the best in-game equipment, some give in to the temptation to use hacks to gain an advantage over their adversaries. Recently, one education-minded mother in China adopted the same tactic by hacking her son’s online gaming accounts, then deleting them.

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Chiba teacher arrested for threats to “blow up government buildings” because of Saturday classes

On 19 July the Noda City department of the Chiba Prefectural Police announced the arrest of 49-year-old elementary school teacher Masaki Yabusaki on charges of intimidation.

The suspect had allegedly sent around half a dozens emails to the Noda Board of Education with oddly-worded threatening remarks such as “I will blow up bad guys and their government buildings” if they didn’t rescind a decision to extend the school week to include Saturday classes introduced this year.

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