Daily Life & Schools

Japanese Language School Rules and Manners
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Daily Life & Schools
Japanese Language School Etiquette: Rules, Manners and Safety
December 11, 2023  |  By Amélie Marie Nishizawa

On orientation day, you will learn all about rules and manners to respect at your school. But we thought we’d help you know what to expect before you start your studies. If some may seem obvious, remember that schools welcome people from all over the world, and cultural differences are bound to happen! 

Common Rules at Japanese Language Schools

Most of the rules are set by Immigration, and respecting them is key to a smooth study experience in Japan. 

Don’t Skip Class

This comes as a surprise for many language school students, but class attendance is mandatory. Japanese language schools send monthly attendance reports to Immigration and have to justify every absence. Immigration authorities look into students whose attendance drops below 70%. 

So, to avoid any trouble, your school could decide to expel you, at which point Immigration would revoke your visa, typically within 30 days. The majority of Japanese language schools actually set the bar higher, requiring 80 or even 90% of attendance per term. It may feel strict, but they are doing so for your own good. Your attendance rate will impact future visa (higher education, employment) applications. So keep it high!

Of course, you can skip class if you are sick or receive unfortunate news from home. But not for part-time work, sightseeing or any non-urgent reason. Always inform your school if possible, and never take a leave of absence without contacting the staff.

While no mental health day exists, studying overseas in a new environment can be tough. If you feel stressed or depressed, even only so slightly, let the school or your coordinator know. We will help you figure out how to manage the situation by attending classes and if you need a medical certificate for a few days of break. 

Understand The Conditions Set by Immigration

While in Japan, it’s crucial to respect and adhere to the guidelines set by your visa. Engaging in unlawful activities can jeopardize your stay and prospects in the country. If you’re a student considering part-time work:

Secure the Right Permits: Ensure you have the correct permit before working—you must obtain a work permit before starting your job.

Know Your Limits: You’re allowed up to 28 hours a week. However, you can extend this to 8 hours daily during school breaks.

Choose Jobs Wisely: Avoid roles in the adult entertainment sector, such as bars, nightclubs or gambling establishments. That also includes service jobs like waiting, janitorial work or dishwashing.

Cultural Etiquette in Class

While you don’t risk losing your visa for bad behavior, respecting essential manners in class makes studies enjoyable for everyone! 

Be Punctual 

It’s a given, but you should arrive on time, or even better, five minutes before class starts. You’ll be sitting and ready just before the bell rings.

Greet Staff Respectfully 

Another obvious point: politeness goes a long way. When you arrive and leave, greet school staff and refer to teachers as they ask you to—most likely as sensei (teacher). Also, take a peek at essential Japanese phrases your teachers may use in class. 

Don’t Eat in Class

Drinking is typically okay, but teachers expect you to keep chewing and munching to break times. That goes for chewing gum, too. Of course, if you feel unwell or have a medical condition that calls for a snack, go ahead after letting your teacher know. 

Don’t Sleep in Class

Dozing off can be tempting when the term gets busy between homework, part-time work and your new life in Japan. But actual attendance is required. Some schools offer rest areas or have an infirmary, so if you feel unwell to the point of sleeping on your table, let the teacher know. 

Don’t Use Your Phone in Class

Stay focused, and turn your phone off during class. You may be allowed to refer to your phone for research purposes or to use a digital dictionary, but ensure your teachers are fine with smartphones beforehand. 

Do Not Smoke on School Grounds

Most school grounds are non-smoking, so keep this in mind when you need nicotine! Some stricter schools may also forbid students from smoking. If you are under 20, remember that you are not legally allowed to smoke or drink alcohol in Japan. If you’re underage and your school learns of this behavior, there may be consequences. 

Stay Safe

Beware of scams! Sometimes, folks might try to misuse student identities or lure them into unwanted situations. Here’s what you should remember:

Guard Your Personal Items: Never share or lend your residence card, passport, personal seal, or bank info. Even if they’re close friends, keeping personal items to yourself is safe.

Be Smart with Money: If someone asks you to take out money for them or do something under their name, think twice.

Work Safely: Planning to work part-time? Always get a clear work contract and double-check that the job is allowed. Uncertain? Your school’s there to help, so don’t hesitate to ask.

Your school may also caution you should be wary of any person approaching you regarding cult-like activities. Cult members sometimes hang around stations close to school with flyers. Similarly, do not sign any documents handed to you on the street with your contact information. 

If you have any questions about studying in Japan, contact us at the GaijinPot Student Placement Program.

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