While there are similarities between American and Japanese high school girls, there are also many differences. High school, important to both, has a more profound influence on Japanese girls in determining their long-term future. In addition, although each culture's high school has its rules and customs, a Japanese high school is more rigid and controlled in a Japanese student's life.
Japanese High School Girls-The Look
For the most part, Japanese children wear uniforms throughout their school years. For a girl in a Japanese high school, that means a uniform modeled from a sailor's uniform in navy blue and white. In high school, Japanese girls will roll the waistband of these skirts, often to make it as mini looking as possible in an attempt at non-conformity. Many uniforms now have shorter skirts, but the traditional white blouse (with or without a tie), white knee socks, and cardigan or blazer remain relatively unchanged. In today's culture, Western wear is popular after school, but the uniform is necessary during the weekdays.
High School - Non-Compulsory
Grades seven through nine are considered lower-secondary school grades - the equivalent to the American middle school. It is possible in Japan to leave school at the end of grade nine or pursue a technical educational course. Most Japanese boys and girls go on to high school - kōtōgakkō - for grades ten through twelve.
A typical day includes Japanese, English, math, social studies, science and gym. Both girls and boys take art, music, and technology and home economics at least once per week. Instead of moving from room to room, the students stay in one room, and the teachers rotate from class to class.
After school clubs make a typical school day longer. Buraban (band) is very popular for Japanese high school girls. Yet, even before experiencing the school clubs, the children participate in cleaning their classroom at the end of the day. Girls and boys sweep, dust, pick up, empty trash, and are expected to participate as a team.
A Japanese Girl's Social Life
Since a Japanese child's life is rigorously controlled during school years, girls and boys tend to socialize in separate groups during the school day. While the culture has changed, there are still plenty of all girl and all boy high school situations. Even in mixed high schools, socialization between high school boys and girls are uncommon and if it happens, it's usually after school hours and on the weekends.
Japanese girls are big fans of all things American including film stars, clothing, and music. As in America, the Internet and cell phones play an extremely important part in the life of teenager.
Nights and weekends in Japan may involve further study and school as high school students must sit for entrance examinations for both high school and college. Many students end up going to Juko, also known as, cram school.
Home and family life is still relatively important in Japan. In rural Japan, social activities may revolve around family, after school sporting events, and chores. Girls in rural Japan and in smaller, less cosmopolitan cities still have a tendency to marry earlier than their America counter parts.
Mango Reveals Teenage Hopes
Japanese manga (comics) reveals a lot about the hopes and dreams of teenage girls. In Japan, manga is hugely popular and produced to appeal to separate genders. Girl's manga is known as shoujo and the story lines are about romance. Shoujo are drawn more artistically and while a Japanese boy will hang around and be loyal to his friends in his story lines, girls' manga often features the heroines abandoning their quests, adventures, and girl friends for their true loves.
Japanese Girls - Social Issues
Bullying and drug use is on the rise throughout the school system in Japan. Tighter conformity usually means tighter school groups and less tolerance of anything unusual. This is especially difficult for Japanese teenagers who have come back from an extended stay in the United States due to a parent's job.
Japanese girls have as much pressure on them to succeed as the boys.
While school overall may be seen as tougher in Japan, a high school girl's life, and her wants, likes, and dislikes, are much the same as for girls in the US. There is just as much a desire in the modern Japanese life for a girl to have it all, experience it all, and become it all. In countries around the world, including Japan, globalization has emphasized the universality of issues all teenage girls are concerned with on a daily basis.