Tweet of the Week #147: Parents Take Off Work to Tackle Unfinished Summer Homework

Why do Japanese parents do their kid's school assignments?

By 2 min read

For Japanese schoolchildren, summer rhymes with summer homework or 夏休なつやすみのとも  (“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?

A mom helping with her child’s bird watching assignment.

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.


Japanese Romaji English
国語こくご kokugo Japanese language
算数さんすう sansuu Arithmetic
理科りか rika Science
社会しゃかい shakai Social studies
図画ずが工作こうさく zugakousaku Arts and crafts

Typical summer assignments

Japanese Romaji English
計算けいさんドリル keisan doriru Calculation drill
算数ドリル sansuu doriru Arithmetic drill
漢字かんじドリル kanji doriru Kanji drill
絵日記えにっき enikki Illustrated diary
アサガオの観察かんさつ asagao no kansatsu Observation of the Japanese morning glory flower. (frequently assigned for an illustrated diary.)
読書どくしょ感想文かんそうぶん dokushokansoubun Book report
作文さくぶん sakubun Essay
自由じゆう研究けんきゅう jiyoukenkyuu Research project
工作こうさく kousaku Handicraft (kids are often asked to pick between craft and painting.)
絵画かいが kaiga Painting
体操たいそう 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.)
音読おんどく ondoku Reading out loud
音楽おんがく ongaku Music

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