21 July 2009 ~ 22 Comments

Clean like there's no tomorrow…(It's the little things…#3)

Friday was the last day of school and there were no classes on this day, so what do you suppose the kids did?

I mentioned in a previous post that Japanese students clean their classrooms on a daily basis (something that American schools would benefit from immolating emulating (-; I believe). Well, on the last day of school they not only clean the classrooms, they clean the entire school! I’ve been tasked to post about the  strangest thing about Japan (July Matsuri) and I’m not sure this fits exactly but walking around the school on the last day has a kind of twilight zone feel to it.

First, the classrooms: all the desks and chairs are moved into the hallway.


The students, dressed in their gym clothes, are split into teams and assigned various task…some are given the floor. This team will take to their hands and knees and, with erasers, remove all marks from the floors.


Meanwhile other teams are cleaning windows and blackboards and staircases, and yet others are cleaning the nurses office, the gymnasium and the doujou…all by hand.



Then, erasers become brooms…the floors are swept thoroughly.


And then out comes the scouring pads and rags and pails of soapy water.



Even the teachers get their hands dirty.



And the strangest part of all of this is that it’s done with not a hint of I’d rather be doing something else. It’s all done with a zest and enthusiasm that is frankly shocking to find in teenagers.



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22 Responses to “Clean like there's no tomorrow…(It's the little things…#3)”

  1. WC 21 July 2009 at 6:32 pm Permalink

    I’m pretty sure you mean ‘imitating’ and not ‘immolating’. 😉

  2. sixmats 22 July 2009 at 12:50 am Permalink

    This is one of the best aspects of Japanese schools.

  3. sixmats 22 July 2009 at 3:44 am Permalink

    This is one of the best aspects of Japanese schools.
    BTW I love your blog!

  4. japanisdoomed 22 July 2009 at 5:48 am Permalink

    Yes it's nice the kids are encouraged to take an interest in the maintenance of their school. I had to help clear up when I was teaching although usually we ducked out for a sneaky cup of coffee.

    Don't worry though we always washed up our coffee mugs.

    • Locohama 22 July 2009 at 8:20 am Permalink

      japanisdoomed (kudos on the name) thanks for the shout.
      I wash mine too…usually
      I would have helped but I was too busy taking pictures (-:

  5. Vin 22 July 2009 at 9:09 am Permalink

    Reading this makes me really embarrassed of our crummy American kids in our crummy American schools (I'm particularly talking about city schools). This is the one thing that really hurts me about my country. The kids are so lazy and self-entitled. I know it makes me sound like a grumpy old man, but truth is truth.

  6. Tom 22 July 2009 at 7:03 pm Permalink

    Is it really necessary to make them clean the floor with freakin erasers??? I mean, come on!

    But the idea in general is not half bad, I think schools everywhere could benefit from this sort of system (nonetheless, I´m sure that if I were still at school and they asked me to clean the floor with erasers I would bring the place down with a flamethrower)

    Let´s hope kids everywhere are more civil than me =)

    • Locohama 22 July 2009 at 7:51 pm Permalink

      i second that emotion…
      thanks for the shout tom-san

  7. Stevun 22 July 2009 at 8:02 pm Permalink

    Welcome to an Asian School… we do it in Malaysia too, but because we wear our shoes into class, unlike the japanese school where they have to deposit their shoes in lockers, we don;t go as detail as their cleaning regime goes. Tell you the truth, we were not as keen as the japanese students…

    • Locohama 22 July 2009 at 8:13 pm Permalink

      well my kids are keen and thorough like u wouldn't believe…

      thanks for the shout stevun-san

  8. Peter 22 July 2009 at 9:53 pm Permalink

    The last day of school in England was always a day to bring a game to school. I'm sure in Japan like England the kids are thankful for anything other than school work. Cleaning the floors not that bad when you can joke with your friends.

    Nice to see this kind of post.

  9. Cory 23 July 2009 at 5:56 am Permalink

    This isn't Tokyo… I've never seen such a clean building in Tokyo. Most are covered in filth and mold and crud from 50 yrs.

    • ieatmypigeon 23 July 2009 at 9:52 am Permalink

      You know, the more I think about it, the more I like it. Not only is it beneficial to the school but it creates a sense of teamwork and doing something for the good of others (how Japanese). It also has such an aspect of finality to it – the end of the year ritual! – that I imagine it makes for some interesting memories of childhood. Thank you for sharing!

  10. supreme nothing 25 July 2009 at 8:56 am Permalink

    I’d like to invite those kids to my house! It could be considered extra-credit!

  11. XYD 25 July 2009 at 10:32 am Permalink

    In my elementary school days, during the summer, teachers had the chore to clean up the room just in case their rooms were changed. It was also cleaned for the next class arrivals. Usually when my friends and I had some time during summer, we would head towards the elementary school and try to help a little bit. Whether it be packing up or unpacking (when the elementary school is about to start in a week or two.) The teachers during that time would always compliment on how thoughtful we were and appreciated the help. Because quite frankly, packing loads of books and unpacking loads of books are just a pain, not to mention the moving around of desks around to make it as perfect as possible for the new students. It wasn’t forced upon us, but we did it because it just felt good. Till this day I still have this something for that elementary school that I don’t with my middle and high school.

    This is the closest I can compare myself to the Japanese students hehe. Such a system makes the students think of how the school is part of them. It also teaches them to respect their school. By the time they leave they’ll feel like they were a part of the school. Something that most students in the states do not want to associate with… I mean come on, they have even come up with a term called senioritis, which is a term used for those who got hit with wanting to graduate and leave.

    Short and simple explanation: Having the teachers and students clean the school makes a sense of community within the school. Something I really do not see too frequently with American Schools.

  12. reesan 25 July 2009 at 3:42 pm Permalink

    yeah, i'm with @ieatmypigeon – a sense of comraderie – albeit they are cleaning floors with an eraser. i'm surprised they were allowed to use scouring pads and not a toothbrush to scrub the floor.

    good post. thanks for sharing.

  13. Yshura 3 August 2009 at 7:33 pm Permalink

    I’m almost graduated and done with school, but I’d have to say that having the cleaning tasks, daily and yearly, would have been great in so many ways! In my elementary in third grade, we had an “Asian Day” where we learned some words in several languages, how to write Japanese, drank green tea and ate ramen for lunch, and a ton of other stuff. We also cleaned the classroom after the day was over. It was amazing. ^_^ I wish we would incorporate that into our schools here, at least a little bit.

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