For Japanese schoolchildren, summer rhymes with summer homework or 夏休みの友 (“summer break friend”). The brightest students finish their assignments right after the last school bell before the summer break. But many kids put off the work until the very last days of their vacation—which means their parents have to step in and help them finish.
A quick online search in Japan leads you to tons of articles for parents on “how to complete summer homework on time.”
This year, a Lunch House Kitashinagawa Bento shop regular, @henu_shinagawa, was surprised to find the store closed during the weekday, but he couldn’t help but laugh when they read the reason why taped to the store’s wall.
A summer emergency
“This is an emergency.”
[On the poster]
“Oh, no…! My son hasn’t finished his homework for the summer vacation at all!
Due to the emergency situation, we will be closed for the night on Friday, August 27, and will be open for business on Monday, August 30.”
What are Japanese summer assignments like?
Kids start their summer with workbooks focusing on several subjects. Depending on their school and grades, they may also have to do athletics, music, English and more. For their first summer assignment, students spend time on the writing system, arithmetic and keeping a summer diary. As grades go up, the assignments get more complex, with the fifth grade considered a turning point for difficulty. That’s when they are assigned book reports and research projects.
|図画工作||zugakousaku||Arts and crafts|
Typical summer assignments
|計算ドリル||keisan doriru||Calculation drill|
|算数ドリル||sansuu doriru||Arithmetic drill|
|漢字ドリル||kanji doriru||Kanji drill|
|アサガオの観察||asagao no kansatsu||Observation of the Japanese morning glory flower. (frequently assigned for an illustrated diary.)|
|工作||kousaku||Handicraft (kids are often asked to pick between craft and painting.)|
|体操||taisou||Physical exercises (students go to a communal sports center and get stamps for each day of participation, and submit the stamp card to the school.)|
|音読||ondoku||Reading out loud|