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Featured Foreign students entering Japanese Junior High

Discussion in 'Studying in Japan' started by Emily1016, Jan 13, 2018.

  1. Emily1016

    Emily1016 Kouhai

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    Hi everyone -

    I've looked through pretty much everything but couldn't find any information about foreign kids in Junior High schools in Japan. My daughter is an 8th grader here in the US, and a family situation has come up that might require us to relocate to Japan and live with her grandparents in Tomakomai for at least a couple of years. It's a relatively small town in Hokkaido and there are no international schools there.

    My daughter is half-Japanese so she can legally enter a local junior high. The major problem is, she was born and raised in the US and even though she knows hiragana, katakana and some basic kanji, her Japanese is very limited. She is not fluent in conversation and can only read or write very basic Japanese.

    I have been trying hard to find any information from parents who moved with junior high kids but had no luck. Is it too late for foreign kids to enter the Japanese school system at this point? Has anyone done it? Did the kids have terrible time adjusting to life in Japan? Any thoughts or ideas would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    Imagine any kid whose alphabet system and language was equally different from English wanting to go to the US and jump right into JHS. The communication challenges alone will be enormous. Plus, you as a parent are going to have to communicate with faculty and administration for various things. School life here is far different than from in the US.

    I've taught in Japanese HS with a connected JHS. My son has been going to Japanese schools since he was born here, so I know about the activities, events, and needs.

    Where I taught in Sapporo was a private JHS/HS. Tomakomai's (public?) school may be more like my son's public school where I live now (Obihiro). In Sapporo, every foreign student, whether they came for a mere month or full year, had to attend all classes and a club, and they had language lessons 2 times a day. Even after a year it barely got them up to speed in talking, but I think a year of study enabled them to pass the minimum level Japanese language test (which might be both reading and listening based). Daily life will be frustrating as a student sits in other classes with virtually no understanding of what the teacher says or writes on the board. Club explanations will be mostly in Japanese, too.

    Teachers and staff will be somewhat tolerant of that gap, and students will be curious and cautiously friendly towards foreign students, because none of them have much of a command of English, and they are afraid to make mistakes with it. Junior high kids today will have had about 3 years of elementary school English lessons, but that can be pitifully poor. Games to learn colors or fruits, songs just to enjoy the feeling of a different language, that sort of thing, and the native teacher who visits to work with the homeroom teacher might come only once a month. Figure how little the kids can learn like that. In JHS, they get grammar lessons with the most basic instruction ("I am. You are. He is." as a starter). Even if kids have gone to cram school (juku) previously or simultaneously, their level of spoken English is low, and JHS homeroom teachers' English in my experience is awful except for the English teachers (and in that case it varies a lot).

    Your family will have to deal with preparing for school field trips, possibly buying/renting school uniforms, 5 major tests per year, health checkups at school, extensive homework projects during summer, winter, and spring breaks, buying sports equipment (ice skates and hockey clothes where I live, yes, even for girls), participating in school programs like plays or singing, annual sports day competition, and more. Kids get tons of paperwork given to them in homeroom to take to their parents and explain all of these things (how's your fluency in Japanese? how well do you communicate with her grandparents in order to make certain decisions?), plus other activities in HR.

    Lastly, Japanese kids in K-12 and into college seem to have an emotional level younger than that of an American kid the same age. Everyone here is taken with "cute" things, no matter if they are a kid or adult, but that may all still be a surprise to your child.

    It's January. I don't even know if that's too late to apply for entrance, and I don't know the school's requirements. Find out those 2 things first, and then how much English support there is for daily life. Feel free to ask me or others here anything more specific.
     
  3. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    Winter break and spring break are roughly 2 and 1 week, respectively. Depends on the school sometimes. Summer break is about 2-3 weeks. So, you and your daughter will have to get used to that.

    Also, lunch is usually something from a Japanese fare. Your child will have to get used to that. At my old school, kids chose a menu ticket for that meal every day, paid for it in a machine, and then presented it at the counter, where they filled the plate. Picture menus go only so far.

    I suspect the kids will be very welcoming but timid because of their own shortcomings. If your daughter stands out more physically than them, it will increase their curiosity. Blondes & redheads, kids with blue eyes, kids who are fair skinned or black, they all stand out. She should expect to be stared at, but it's all because the kids have never seen any foreign person before except in movies. Just to let you know, in all of my years living here and in my professional research, the main reason Japanese of all ages want to learn English (if they want to learn it at all) is to be able to meet foreign people and make foreign friends. If your daughter says even the smallest thing in Japanese (thank you, good morning, etc.), they will praise her to no end and feel more open to talking. It can be uncomfortable to hear someone say "Jozu!" (wow, what great skill!) when all you've said is "good morning", but it happens a lot at any age.
     
  4. Emily1016

    Emily1016 Kouhai

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    #4 Emily1016, Jan 13, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018

    Glenski - thank you so very much for your deatiled reply! My Japanese is OK to communicate with grandparents in daily life but I don't think I would be able to understand the paperwork coming home from school. To be honest, I am pretty terrified about communicating with school administration. But I am even more terrified that my daughter would be miserable sitting in class and not understanding what's going on.

    Have there ever been any foreign students at your son's school in Obihiro? Is it possible at all to get any language help at a public school? I am guessing you were talking about the International School in Sapporo where they had 2 language lessons a day? Are there any public or private schools in Obihiro that have language support for foreign kids?

    Another issue I am very concerned about is bullying. From what I understand, it's a much bigger problem in Japan than here. Have you ever had any issues at your son's school?

    Thanks so much again!
     
  5. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    #5 Mike Cash, Jan 13, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
    That's a non-issue, actually.

    That's a major issue....

    The more you can do to get her started on intensive Japanese language learning before you arrive the better things will be all around.

    You haven't mentioned your husband, who I assume is the Japanese-capable partner in your marriage. To what degree will he be available to handle things that come up? Will one or the other of his parents be able to help with any communications regarding school, city hall, hospital, etc related matters in his stead if he is unavailable?

    Then you need to hit the books right alongside your daughter and alleviate your illiteracy. Literacy is liberating; illiteracy is crippling.

    You need not be. Everything will get taken care of eventually, one way or another. This is the land of なんとかなる

    Lose the terror; it doesn't help anything.

    Yes, she will sit there not understanding. Whether she is miserable about it or not is a personal choice. She can either rise to the occasion and bust butt to catch up or she can sit there confused, resentful, and feeling sorry for herself. It's more of a character issue than it is an educational issue. That being said, though, you still need to do all you can to get her off to a running start by hitting the books hard right now and to lead by example by busting your butt to alleviate your own linguistic deficiencies and Japanese illiteracy right alongside her. Don't make the mistake so many foreign adults make of excusing yourself from the task just because it's hard.

    Sapporo Sacred Heart School | Sapporo Sacred Heart School

    It's only an hour or so away by train. They have a dorm.

    Having your husband contact the school system in the city where you are going and addressing specific questions to them seems to me to be a good way to reduce your terror by getting answers straight from the source.

    教育部学校教育課/北海道苫小牧市
     
  6. tomoni

    tomoni 先輩

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    Hi Emily

    Mike pointed out to that you have another thread here-so I decided to join this one because my questions are similar to the ones that are here.

    Like the others, I don’t want to pry into your personal situation, but the more information you willing to share the more help we can possibly be.

    Are you going to be traveling with a Japanese spouse/partner?
    How are you intending to stay?
    Is international school, or private school too expensive?

    I do not know the prices of the schools, but yearsp ago when I was considering one for my son, international schools starting around 1 million per year, and private schools with Japanese curriculum where around ¥600,000 per year and up By the time you factor in things like entry fees registration fees and so on.

    That is actually a little more expensive than a national University.

    Any other information you’d like to share me that you think may help us, please share it with us.

    I hope my questions are not too invasive.
    Best regards
     
  7. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    They will communicate with parents mostly and initially through paperwork, so be sure you have someone who can explain it to you. If they choose to accept your daughter, their concern will also be communication (with her and you), so you're not the only one with concerns. They're not likely to take someone if the chances of communicating are bad.

    One thing I didn't mention was that in the cases where I worked in Sapporo, foreign exchange kids were not in the least bit expected to do the homework. I don't recall if they were told to sit through the exams, but I doubt it. If she wants to try catching what is going on, terrific. If she sits in geography and does her Japanese lessons, they might figure that's ok, with the main point being that her butt is in the seat. Goofy, I know, but that's how it worked where I taught.

    When my son started JHS, there was one kid from Mongolia. He stayed only one year, and I don't know why he moved away. He had an interpreter with him constantly, but I don't know if that was provided by the school or was a private interpreter.

    No. I taught at Ritsumeikan Keisho Senior and Junior High School, which is a private school. Hokkaido's only international school (which is located in Sapporo) was/is too expensive. It teaches all lessons in English except for Japanese class, but their tuition is steep.

    I don't know. You might try contacting city hall here or in Tomakomai to see what's up. Keep in mind what I wrote earlier, that you need to know deadlines for applying to school. The academic year begins in April.

    Not a one, whether in kindergarten, elementary school, or his 2 years of JHS. Whether that's because the kids nowadays are more accepting, whether they are more accepting in this smaller town, or whether it's because he speaks Japanese fluently, I can't say.

    One last point. Find out from her current school in the US if she can get credit for classes taken in Japan. I doubt it. That would mean returning to America and repeating the 2 years, maybe, in JHS. Like I alluded to earlier, the Tomakomai school may not give one bit of a damn whether a short-term foreign kid passes a single test or grade, simply because they might feel they are not part of the normal system and are here short term. They will be as polite and supportive as their resources allow, but it's their responsibility to teach the full-timers who are Japanese more than anything else.

    Three more questions:
    1. When do you plan to come, if you come at all?
    2. You said your daughter was half-Japanese. Does she have Japanese citizenship, or was she merely born to one Japanese parent? I assume she'll have a US passport when/if she comes, but citizenship is what would allow her to "legally enter a local junior high", as you wrote. Technically, any foreign kid can enter as an exchange student.
    3. Tell us about her father, who I assume is the reason for coming to Japan.
     
  8. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    Junior high school is by law compulsory in Japan so there is no question of application deadlines, conditions, or acceptance. By law she can't not send her child to junior high school and by law municipalities are required to facilitate compulsory education.

    Whatever local public junior high school serves whatever neighborhood she lives in will enroll her child, no matter at what point of the school year it may be. While there are endless ancillary expenses associated with sending children to school, fortunately the law forbids tuition fees at public elementary and junior high schools.

    High school is where all bets go out the window and kids have to compete for spots, even in public schools, as high school education is not compulsory in Japan. And public high schools may charge tuition fees.

    第4条 (義務教育) :文部科学省
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. tomoni

    tomoni 先輩

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    #9 tomoni, Jan 14, 2018 at 13:50
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018 at 13:55
    While Mike is correct, endless ancillary expenses sounds a bit scary, but generally these expenses will be uniforms for school, white running shoes, a PE kit (shirts/scholl t-shirts), indoor shoes and indoor gym shoes (about 300USD). (if they join a sports "club" - school team- uniform and gear- this is sometimes expensive
    - My son- $300 USD or for a full matching kit -shorts/shirts/matching "sweats kit" hoodie- /for volleyball not including VB shoes, other son played basketball and it was about the same), a bicycle (that conforms to school regulations- 100- 500 USD), a black backpack (50-100USD). Some fee for the club (chipping in for balls, or something- can't remember but about 50 USD per year).

    This is what immediately comes to mind (Mike - let me know if I am missing anything) PLUS normal things like pens, pencils, notebooks etc.

    If money is an issue:
    • In my case, we have an informal parent network to help if the costs are too much for club activities- we call around and ask students that played in previous years to pass them on - in fact my son will give his kit to a new member in March when he graduates. In my experience, this is quite common.
    • For school uniforms, often the PTA helps to get uniforms in the same way.


    I am not sure if this the case nationally (I believe so), but the school also provides a lunch for every student. (Students usually? sometimes? - depends on where you live- join some cram schools which can be expensive)

    Hope that helps.
     
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  10. Emily1016

    Emily1016 Kouhai

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    Yes, that's my understanding too. Since she has a dual citizenship, she will be enrolled in school.
     
  11. Emily1016

    Emily1016 Kouhai

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    #11 Emily1016, Jan 15, 2018 at 04:03
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018 at 04:16
    Thank you for all your comments, Mike! They are greatly appreciated.
    My husband is Japanese and will help as much as possible via phone/Skype/etc. I hope his mother will be able to help with communications a little, too.
    Granparents are in their 80s and need family help. My father-in-law's health has deteriorated recently, which is the main reason why we want to go there now to help them with with daily life among other things. At the moment, only myself and my daughter can go but my husband has to stay in the US until he can find a job back in Japan.
     
  12. Emily1016

    Emily1016 Kouhai

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    We are trying to figure out if we can come as soon as possible. My daughter does have a dual citizenship and two passports so the school acceptance is not an issue, as far as we understand.
    My in-laws need help, and my daughter and I are the only ones who can go to Japan at this point. I also want my daughter to spend time with grandparents whie they are still alive. Ideally, all of us would like to go together but my husband needs to find a job back in Japan first. He is a scientist and has been out of Japan for a while. He is worried about us going to Japan on our own but we are also very worried about his parents' situation. We were hoping to bring them here but his father got sick and can no longer fly.
     
  13. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    That may be so, but she has to establish a residence first, which is why I asked about timing.

    Yes, and as you pointed out, supplies/gear/clothing for clubs, whether that be a sports club or the band. The costs do go up. Most kids also have an enormous backpack to take over for their elementary school "randoseru". My son's is a huge ****** that takes about 30 pounds of books and other stuff every day, whether he uses the stuff or not. Little to no storage in the school itself.

    Not where my son goes to school, and it's the largest school in town. You buy or rent the uniform. His current rental cost is about US$150 per year. Buying it is $220, but you know how kids in JHS grow fast.

    This is another facet of your relocation, of course. He may have to take some time off from his current position to do job hunting. Jobs often begin in April, too, not just schools. So this might be his best time for finding a job. I'm sure he knows that, though. He might end up with a long commute to Sapporo. What kind of scientist is he?
     
  14. Emily1016

    Emily1016 Kouhai

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    #14 Emily1016, Jan 15, 2018 at 08:26
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018 at 08:32
    He is a physicist so Sapporo would probably be his best bet. Unfortunately, there’s no way for him to take time off now as he also has to teach and the semester has already started. He will have to stay here at least until June.
     
  15. marley'sghost

    marley'sghost Kouhai

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    Thought I'd chime in on bullying, as I don't think anyone has addressed that yet. I'm American with a Japanese wife and 2 children. My daughter is the same age as yours. They have never been bullied (that they've told me). But they have always gone to public school in Japan. And while they can't pass as anything but "hafu", they are fluent and Japanese in any cultural sense you care to describe. That and my son is a touch over 6 foot and about 190 lbs....which makes him a big lad over here.
    It can sound pretty scary reading the posts and horror stories out there, and while bullying can and does happen, Japanese schools are not a nightmarish morass of hate, prejudice and malice. I've been teaching in JHS here for quite a while, and I can't say I've seen the foreign students or "hafu"s or returnees getting targeted or bullied worse than the general student population. That said, the kids that don't speak much Japanese do have a hard time fitting in, as can be expected. It's tough being the new kid at school. That's true everywhere. The language barrier will complicate all the new-kid-at-school-8th-grade-girl issues that will probably spring up. It will make her an easier target if the school mean girl does decide to make her this year's victim. It will ultimately boil down to what sort of kid your daughter is. The kid that gets bullied is that kid with "victim" just sort of written on them somehow. You remember him or her from when you were in school, right? Does not matter if they are full-blooded, born-and-bred in Japan, or a halfu, or fresh off the boat from Vietnam.
    Hope that helps some. It sounds like you have a full plate of things to worry about. I would not worry too much about bullying. At least not anymore than you would back home.
     
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  16. Emily1016

    Emily1016 Kouhai

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    #16 Emily1016, Jan 15, 2018 at 11:23
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018 at 11:38
    Thank you so much, Marley’s Ghost! It helps a lot. I do have a full plate of things to worry about. My daughter is very mature for her age and knows how to stay away from drama. I just can’t stop thinking if this would be too much for any 13 year old. I have no idea, and she is my only child. My biggest fear is that I will ruin my I daughter’s life by uprooting her at this age. At the same time, I feel this could be a great experience for her and a chance to learn Japanese. I am the one who is scared the most, I think.
     
  17. tomoni

    tomoni 先輩

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    Hi Emily,

    Thank you for the additional information:

    A few additional comments:

    • Bullying
    I would agree with Marley's Ghost based upon my experience and the experience of my sons' . My wide and I have been active in support groups since my kids were small - PTA/Children's Association (kodomokai), English language support, and the community group. So consequently, we hear a lot about school related issues. For girls, IMO, the toughest side of bullying used to "exclusion". Basically, everyone will ostracize the target, and this can be very traumatic. But it seems multicultural children are less of a target than other Japanese children. This kind of bullying is very hard to resolve because you cannot "force" people to sociallize with others. We have had this occur at my kids schools on twice to my knowledge and the school is very proactive about it and really tries to help resolve the situation.

    A new kind of bullying is cyberbully, and often involves, rumor, innuendo and photos. Again in the one case that I am aware of the school jumped right in and worked very hard to resolve (successfully) the situation.

    • Resentment
    I think that at some point your daughter will resent having to move to Japan at various points in her adapting to her new Japanese life. It will be at times a very trying experience for her (and also for you). So please be prepared for that.

    I really think that since you have basically decided to do it, I would not fret too much about things until you get there. Mostly, I would recommend that you focus on preparation especially language lessons for you and your daughter. Have her focus on reading and writing as much as possible because her speaking ability will quickly improve. The biggest barrier for her in school will literacy.

    :emoji_smile:
     
  18. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    So, your husband teaches physics. Is he looking for that type of job, too, or some sort of laboratory-based work? Yes, Sapporo will be more target-rich than Tomakomai, but that's not all that bad. Commuting by car or train is about an hour each way.
     
  19. Shibui

    Shibui Kouhai

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    Just on the bullying side of things my experience (having four kids who have been moved around a lot with work) there is no rhyme nor reason to bullying. Some schools have it, some dont. Amazingly the very worst for bullying was an expensive religious school we went to. Butter wouldn't melt in their mouths, but the psychological bullying was insane.
    Good luck with the future. Kids are resilient.
     
  20. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    Your kids attended school in Japan?
     
  21. tomoni

    tomoni 先輩

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    Yes, but IMO that may not be the best stance on bullying. There are many factors involved in Japan in bullying, and in the results of bullying.

    Kids are resilient-sounds like “tough it out” but in Japan the fact is that bullying often leads to suicide and a lot of unnecessary mental trauma. On the bright side Japanese schools,at least in my experience, are very proactive and really try to get involved and bullying is happening. So I don’t think that the kids are resilient is the correct stance.

    If there is bullying rapid intervention using all available means such as parents teachers and in the worst case the police is warranted.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  22. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    I have trouble squaring the assurances that schools are proactive with what I am accustomed to seeing in news reports in the cases where suicide resulted.....which is that despite repeated complaints and appeals to the school and/or board of education no action was taken at all. Hell, sometimes it's the teachers physically abusing the kids.

    「話を聞いてください」何度も…担任がいじめ放置 女児が不登校に 大津の市立小、教員の薄い意識(1/4ページ) - 産経WEST

    「いじめ隠蔽の疑念出る」 文科省が仙台市教委を批判 - 産経ニュース

    福岡・小5女児:「いじめ放置」苅田町提訴 地裁行橋支部 - 毎日新聞

    これでもいじめは隠蔽される。探偵が暴露した、学校のウソ報告書 - まぐまぐニュース!

    後手後手の学校や教育委員会を尻目に凶悪化するいじめ - NAVER まとめ

    川口のいじめ:顧問教諭が体罰 ノートが証拠に - 毎日新聞

    自殺の中2に教諭が体罰 仙台いじめ、前日に頭たたく  :日本経済新聞

    体罰で生徒骨折 教師に減給処分も「手をあげた事由」に同情相次ぐ – しらべぇ | 気になるアレを大調査ニュース!

    甘すぎる「体罰教師」処分!膝蹴り全治3か月、唾吐きかけ90回でも減給10% : J-CASTテレビウォッチ

    部活動の監督が部員にセクハラ「自分と相撲とれ」生徒2人が不登校に - ライブドアニュース

    I could go on, but I think I've made my point. The notion that schools are proactive is just Pollyannaish hogwash. If anything, they fail to notice problems on their own, ignore or fail to effectively act on problems which are brought to their attention, engage in denials and cover-ups if the problem becomes public, and face no serious repercussions for their mishandling of situations that go seriously wrong. And this isn't limited to cases that resulted in suicides by any means.
     
  23. tomoni

    tomoni 先輩

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    at least in my experience,

    i think your mileage will vary. I agree there are some nightmare stories in Japan. But again, in my experience, the schools I have been involved with have been very proactive.
     
  24. Emily1016

    Emily1016 Kouhai

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    #24 Emily1016, Jan 18, 2018 at 04:41
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2018 at 04:47
    These links are very scary, Mike! Teachers physically abusing the kids?? I am pertified now and wondering if this is a good idea for us to go. I know there are no school scouncelors in Japan. What do parents normally do if anything like that happens?
     
  25. Emily1016

    Emily1016 Kouhai

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    #25 Emily1016, Jan 18, 2018 at 04:46
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2018 at 04:55
    Tomoni, may I ask where your sons go to school? Are you in Hokkaido? These nightmare stories and links are making me pretty uneasy. Does it depend on where you are? More bulling in larger cities/urban schools, for example?

    Are there any other safety issue that I should be thinking about? I know there are no school buses and parents don't drive kids to school either. Is walking/taking public bus safe? Would my daughter be OK walking alone? The other day we were talking about how she could take the bus, and she was worried. I am starting to get cold feet. I know Japan is much safer that the US but still. How safe a 13 year old girl with no Japanese language be? Any advice?
     

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