Japanese School Uniforms: Vocabulary

Figure 1.--

Here is a basic lesson in a Japanese language class about school in Japan. As the book says, let's talk about school in Japan. The school year runs from the beginning of April to the last week of March. School is year 'round, with several breaks and vacation times.

Junior High is three years, called Middle School, grades 1-3. High school is the same way. "Gakkou" means School. "Chuu-gakkou" means Middle School and "Koukou" means High School

When Japanese kids introduce themselves, they often give their school year. "Ichi-nen" means First year, "Ni-nen" Second year, and "San-nen" Third year.

Here are some more school terms, the people!

Sensei: Teacher. As with all titles, 'sensei' is used after someone's name. It can also be used by itself when addressing a teacher, but is a little less polite.

Gakkusei: Student. This is a title also, but seldom used that way. Mostly just used to say, "I am a student." Or, "She is a student."

Kouchou: Principal. Unfortunately, every school has one. Used like the word 'teacher', e.g. Kunou Kouchou. Also used by itself, i.e. Kouchou-san.

Tenkousei: The Tranfer student.

Here are some of those school breaks: "Natsu yasumi"--Summer vaction, "Fuyu yasumi"-- Winter break, and "Goluden uiku"--Golden week. Golden week is for the cherry blossom festival the first week of May. It is also a time for recognizing the elderly.

Finally, when school is finised, the gakkusei will "sotsugyou" (graduate).

One more thing. The Japanese really do call those school girl uniform 'sailor suits'. The word is "Seiraa Fuku". Non-sailor suit uniforms and boy's wear is "gakkou fuku," which just means 'school clothes'.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: September 9, 2000
Last updated: September 9, 2000