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The School Grounds
The school facilities of public junior high schools in Japan are fairly comparable to those in the United States. The maintenance and handling of these rooms and facilities, however, are very different.

There are always two main entrances to the main school building: a teachers' entrance and a student entrance. Both have a place to change shoes. To the right is the shoe-changing area for the students. Each student has two pairs of shoes. One for when he/she is walking outside, and another for anyplace inside a building. There may also be special places in the school that the students and teachers are required to take off their shoes and put on school slippers. This keeps the floors quite a bit cleaner than they would be normally.

In Japan, each teacher does not base himself/herself in a single classroom. Their desk, books and papers are all in a collective "teachers' room". It is the teachers who switch classes. Each class of students remain in the same classroom for the entire year. They each have their own desks and students take lessons together from the same teacher. The teachers' room is not anything like a "teachers' lounge" as you might see in the United States. It is a very large room and all the teachers' desks are arranged into blocks by teachers who teach the same grade. It is not locked or private by any means. There are usually two large sliding doors opening into the teachers' room and students may enter, with a polite greeting of excuse, anytime there is not a teachers' meeting going on. The teachers' room resembles a fire hazard cluttered with desks.

A very typical teachers' room

There can be one to three buildings which house the actual classrooms, which are usually assigned by grade. Other rooms that can be found in the buildings include an audio/visual room, a computer room and a home-ec room.

Outside there is usually a well-kept courtyard area with shaped bushes or small flowers. The fields are almost always dirt.

The students are in charge of keeping the school clean, under the direction of the teachers. They do a fairly good job. Things area clean, but not gleaming. One of the drawbacks of not having custodial engineers at each school is that tasks that need done, such as painting or scrubbing of soot off of the sides of a building, go a long time before being done. But I think that making the students responsible for the cleaning is a good idea; it teaches them to have some pride in their school.


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