Special Guests at School

Yesterday, we visited two different Japanese schools — Akan Junior High School and Hokuyo High School. School visits are so wonderful. We always feel like special guests. Here are a few examples of how honored they make us feel.

When we arrive at a school, the kids are often peeking out the windows, waving at us from inside:


They prepare all sorts of special activities for us. Here is Principal Shoji welcoming us and telling us the schedule for the day:


We often give little speeches. I got to give the one at Akan Junior High, and presented the principal with a Red Sox baseball from the United States. He even asked me to sign it to put in their display cabinet:

At every school, we’ve gotten a tour, and the students and teachers make us feel very welcome in the classes. Here’s computer class, which prepared a little something for us:

Welcome Computers

Each school often prepares special activities also. One of our favorites was a special school assembly to teach us some Kanji, a type of Japanese writing.

School Assembly

After getting an introduction, we were broken into 12 groups and each group got some tutors. They showed us signs that they made to teach us the characters. They showed us what the Kanji looks like now, and how it evolved from a picture image. They quizzed us in the small groups so that we could learn it.

KanjiThen came the scary part. We got quizzed in front of the whole school! It’s hard to hear in this video, and I needed to blur it a little for privacy reasons, but here you can see one of the other teachers in my group trying to guess his Kanji:

Another favorite activity was learning some Japanese calligraphy for a big sign that spelled out a welcome to our group. First, we learned some calligraphy and practiced.

And the final product!

ESD Group Photo

There’s so much more that I could write about our school visits. We’ve also gotten to see a lot of aspects of a typical school day, and also different examples of sustainable development teaching. Here’s a taste of everyday life at the schools we visited yesterday. I have so much more I could include, but I’ll have to save it for another post.

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To close, I’d like to show how Hokuyo High School sent us off yesterday, with a beautiful performance from the band. It was hard to get back on the bus and leave! Thank you to all our wonderful hosts who made us feel like honored guests.

Thank You


Note: I’m not the only teacher having this kind of experience! Mr. Mac was recently working with kids in Northern Ireland, and he also seemed to feel very welcomed. Check out this post on his blog

Categories: Japan

6 replies »

  1. Nice!
    The Kanji resembles Chinese a lot, I recognized a few of the symbols. It was funny when one of your colleagues got quizzed! 🙂 How many forms of Japanese are there?
    What were some differences and similarities you noticed between American schools and Japanese schools?
    ~ Anna

    P.S. The school lunch looks delicious! 😀

    • There are actually four main styles in Japanese writing. They are:
      *Kanji = Chinese-style characters
      *Hiragana = Syllables for Native Japanese words
      *Katakana = Syllables for Non-Japanese words
      *Romaji = English transliteration

  2. I loved how welcoming the students were! It’s amazing how friendly people can be! What I what to know is: Ms.Krakauer, how did you do on the test in front of the school?

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