Things I Have Learned from Japan
Having a chance living in Japan has opened my eyes to see many things that didn’t even once cross my mind before. There are things here that I don’t see and have in Indonesia, specifically in Jakarta, and those things have awaken me that I, as an Indonesian, should be able to make positive changes to my own country, which can actually be started from my own self and the smallest environment, which is in my own family and or in my workplace.
These are only some of the points that I have got acquaintance with and purposefully noted down –somehow, who knows the good ones can be applied – as a remembrance and a source of reminder.
Healthy food served to Mihara ES Students (the kids take turn serving lunch in their class)
Japanese children are trained to be independent and responsible since their very young age. These children are taught to be discipline, attentive and have good manners in the class while they are learning. They are also responsible for doing some tasks –such as cleaning the hallway, serving their friends meal at lunch time, cleaning their classrooms, etc. in their school which later will form a society with a high-level of care and responsibility to the environment, especially to themselves.
- Japanese families don’t have any maids who help them at home. Thus, working-parents are to leave their babies at the nursery which really costs a lot of money or the mother quits her job to be a full-time housewife. However, even they leave their kids at the nursery, they are really well-trained to be independent ones and to contribute to their families when they are back home. Mothers have big responsibility for her family that she has to do the house chores as well as raise their children and serve their husband.
- Japanese people are well-organized and punctual in doing their daily activities. They have their journal books with them to note and know what they have to do daily so that they will not miss anything.
- They are somehow less expressive than other Asian people but that’s because they are raised in their environment where conflicts are somehow avoided. They are peaceful people who don’t show their feelings and tend to be thinking a lot about other people’s comfort and feeling than their own selves.
- They seem to be rather ignorant to other people they don’t know, especially because they respect privacy and don’t want to get involved in any problems. However, if they have known and are close with us, they will do whatever they can to either help or please us.
- They are hard-worker and have self-strong will in doing their works and education. They always give their best in finishing the tasks given and always give their maximal performance to achieve the best results. They have this keyword ‘GANBATTE’ which means give out all you can in doing their tasks, exam, and anything related to their performance. They will spend the whole night working and finishing their works if they feel they have to, even there’s not any pressure from their boss vice versa.
- Japanese Education System is somehow nationwide applied thoroughly in all schools all around Japan. There’s not any difference in the application of the education in schools throughout the country. If there’s any point that is different and carried out in a school, the board of education in the prefecture where the school is located should approve and give permission. Thus, the outcome –the students– have similar characters and competence that are formed and learned in the schools.
- Japanese teachers and educational practitioners are fully-trusted to educate their students without any interference of the students’ parents at schools. Parents are to educate their children at home and cooperate with the school for the development of their children. They are respected by their students and also their family for being a teacher is one of the most honoured jobs in the society. They have great deal of responsibility to form the future generation for the sake of the country. They report the students’ individual development to their parents regularly to keep them informed of their children’s progress or decline.
- Japanese schools are sterile from people who are not involved in the school activities, such as parents, drivers, and maids. There are people who can be seen to be around the school’s environment before and after the school hours because they are the ones who help the students going back and forth their homes and schools. They are the people in the community that are responsible to make sure that the students who walk in groups are safe to and from their school.
School Visit to Mihara ES with Hirodai TT Participants and Indonesian Japanese Study Participants, July 2015
The facilities provided in the schools are well-suited the students’ phase of development, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) really supports education in schools by providing full indoor and outdoor facilities to get maximum results of the teaching and learning processes carried out. The facilities that are commonly provided in a school are: a reception area with lockers to keep the visitors’ shoes (visitors change their shoes and use the provided slippers), a gymnasium, fields, a swimming pool, a music room (with a piano and some other musical instruments), a laboratory for science and experiments, a computer laboratory, a home-economics classroom, a school broadcasting room, a nurse’s room, a drawing and handcraft room, a teachers’ room and a principal’s room (which are on the first floor), a library (completed with sets of computers), sports halls, a cafeteria which serves various healthy foods with balanced nutrition (cooked by hygienic chefs with the guidance of a nutritionist), bicycles’ and cars parking lots. In lower level education (kindergartens and elementary schools), there’s also a big kitchen (for cooking the students’ meals) and a playground with many plays such as monkey bars, swings, slides, monocycles, jump-ropes, see-saws, etc.
- In Japanese learning, lesson study method has been applied for many years in the elementary and lower secondary schools. Lesson study is a method which is done by giving the students much chance to experience learning and engage actively in the learning activities. The role of the teachers in the activities is to improve the quality of the learning activities that the students are experiencing.
- There are various clubs in the schools that the students can attend as additional activities after school or on Saturdays and Sundays. There are arts and sports clubs such as, swimming, baseball, photography, basketball, kendo, calligraphy, judo, kyuudoo, etc.
- Special-need students are also given the same opportunity to be educated in the schools as there are facilities for them in the same schools where the other students go to. They are not differentiated from the aspects of facilities and treatment; they are different only in the way they learn in the classrooms.
THE NATURE, CULTURE, TOURISM OBJECTS AND FACILITIES
- The nature throughout this country is very well-preserved by the people and the government. The beauty of each region is different from the other regions which makes each place special.
Tottori Sand Dunes, Tottori Prefecture, March 2015
The cleanliness of the environment is taken as the most important aspect to maintain in daily life. The people are very aware of their health which actually starting from the cleanliness of the environment they live in.
- Temples and shrines are the most common places that tourists can visit in any district of the country. Each temple or shrine somehow has its own uniqueness that makes it different from others. However, some ordinary temples and shrines without any special features are also everywhere but usually there’s always at least one that is most famous in each region of the country.
- Traditional customs and shows are numerously available in all regions of the country in different seasons. Japanese people really love and preserve their culture that there are abundant festivals and commemorations which are unique and fascinating to see. There are some cities which are famous with their cultural events, such as Kyoto and Nara. It is best to come and visit this country when there are many festivals held everywhere, which is usually in spring or autumn. These festivals are usually held regularly and continuously each year.
Trash Corner at Sake Matsuri, October 2014
Japan is very famous with its abundant festivals which are unique from one to other regions. However, in each festival held, there’s something amusing that might be very little people noticed. There’s usually no litters left scattered after the event. It happens because the high awareness of Japanese to keep the environment clean. Thus, in every festival, there’re usually trash corners (where people classify and throw their trash) and or they put and bring their trash in their bag to be thrown away later when they see trash bins or at their home. In some cases, there might be trash scattered around but surely it’s not Japanese people who do that, most of the time it’s the tourists who have low self-awareness of preserving environment.
- Japan is a four-season country, thus, there’s always something special held in each season. In autumn (October-November), there’s a stunning view everywhere coming from the leaves of Momiji tress which turn red. There’s also this turned-to-yellow-leaves tree which gives colourful scene as beautiful as three-to-four colours as combination of other trees’ leaves’ colours. In winter (December-February), illumination is everywhere in all parts of Japan.
Illumination in Hiroshima City, December 2014
The coldness of winter nights is warmed up by the colourful lights shaped into many kinds of awesome figures. Thus, tourists who visit Japan during winter can see different illuminations in different areas of Japan. In spring (March-May), which is the mostly-waited season by Japanese as this season is the beginning of everything for them, Sakura or cherry-blossoms is the main attraction as they only bloom in this season. Japanese love to have picnics under Sakura trees to enjoy the season as of the view and beauty of the blooming Sakura is unspokenly stunning. The last season is summer (July-September, plus rainy season in June), which happens to be a different kind of summer as in the tropical countries or as in Indonesia due to its very high humidity which causes people to be soaked wet by their sweat. The heat of this season is redeemed by numerous attractions of fireworks at nights, prevalently in all parts of Japan.
- The facilities in the tourism places are also well-kept and clean, as the toilets are provided along with rolls of tissue and trash bins are also available. At least there are three trash bins at once which classify the trashes that we’re going to throw away. Having those trash bins around the public places really mean a lot to the people because they truly classify and throw away the litters into the proper bin in order for them to be easily processed. Having this kind of classification of throwing litters in Japan also creates healthy environment that the tap water is drinkable and there’s very little number of pollution in Japan.
- People with disability should live independently, therefore, they are well-treated everywhere in public places as there are facilities provided for them, such as elevators with special lowered-position button, toilets with bigger space, hallways without stairs where they can pass through, marks on the pavements for the blinds, sinks with special handle in the toilets, etc. There’s not any discrimination or such glare from people to these disable, they’re all treated and given equal opportunities in using public places. This entirety facility provided for them makes this country very convenient for them to live in.
- Most children leave their house when they have graduated from the upper secondary school or started to work. They usually live in small apartments near their workplace or campus if they work or study far away from their house. Additionally, the ones who have got married, in most cases, don’t live with their parents or in-laws. Therefore, it’s something common that old people live on their own in their big houses without anyone accompanying them. Such view as old people driving cars or travelling by themselves is also common here, as they don’t want to burden anyone else even their own family.
Well, this very brief introduction of Japan (but seemingly to be a long writing as one-fifth of my final report to write at the end of TT program next year) might only represent very little percentage of Japan on those mentioned points as the limitation of experience and knowledge I have. Though so, hopefully this writing gives you more understanding on Japan and some of its aspects. As an Indonesian proverb says, not knowing is ain’t loving (sorry for the random translation)… the more you know Japan, the more you fall for this country, as I’ve been feeling since I first set my feet here. Japan is now my second home country and hopefully later my children will have a chance to set their feet here in Japan (and some other counties too) to gain knowledge and give contributions for their home country, Indonesia. Aamiin….
October 11th, 2015
From Saijo, Higashihiroshima city with love,