An integral part of Japanese schools is the classroom. Japanese students do not move from classroom to classroom as American students do, rather the teachers are the ones who travel from class to class making the classroom very personal for the students occupying that room. As such, most students tend to think of their classroom as their own and generally take better care of it. At least, that is the result wished for.
The Japanese classroom houses many familiar items that all schools have such as a black board, teachers desk at the front, student chairs and desks, shelves for holding items at the back wall, a rack for jackets and book bags, and a row of windows. For high school students, book bags may be placed beside the desk which have a hook that can hold the bag up.
The classroom is decorated with posters, the class schedule, the school motto, and for elementary school classes, an electrical organ. Some schools with no centralized heating system will have a gas heater in each class at the corner for winter. Surprisingly missing from the room is the Japanese flag which contrasts with American classrooms which has one hanging in all rooms.
One side of the classroom faces the outside with windows along that wall. Underneath those windows are shelves housing school supplies. On the opposite side is another row of windows except it faces the hallway and there are fewer window panes. The hallway outside the classroom have windows looking outside to the outdoors making the building very bright during the day.
Schools are three stories high with students of a certain grade all occupying the same floor. For example, seniors may occupy the top floor, juniors the middle floor, and sophomores the bottom floor. All classes are very big with about 20 or more students per classroom depending on enrollment. There are three grades housed in one building; grades 1-3 and grades 4-6 for elementary school, grades 7-9 for junior high school, and grades 10-12 for senior high school.
All classrooms are marked according to the grade and classroom number unlike American schools which tend to have the name of the teacher and classroom number. Grades are marked from number one to three with three being the highest grade for that school. The classrooms are then marked starting with number one and on depending on how many classrooms there are in that grade. For example, class 3-6 would be a senior class and the sixth classroom in that grade.
As I mentioned before, a students classroom tends to feel like their own space. They clean the room, they store items in the room, display works in their room, eat lunch and hang out in their room, hold events in the classroom during school festivals, and of course, have classes in their room.
Desks for students are the ones with the open shelves right underneath the tabletop. These desks may be rearranged depending on what is being taught in the class. Students may break off to groups of four or more, create a big U-shape or a circular pattern, or any other combination needed at the moment.
Students are generally seated according to the last name and whether it’s a kanji or in kana form; kanji letters take precedence over kana letters as it precedes kana’s in the Japanese alphabet. Other than that, some students may be seated according to what is available if they are transfer students.