School is an important part of life for many characters on PersonaMUSH, whether they're still receiving K-12 education or have gone beyond that. This file will explain the basics of the school system in Japan, as well as detail the notable middle and high schools along with colleges.
In Japan, the school year works differently than what some parts of the world are accustomed to. It begins on the first of April and ends in early March (the exact date can vary slightly). The year consists of three terms: from April to mid-July, with a break lasting until the end of August, then with the second term from September 1st to mid-December, with school resuming for the third term in early January and lasting until early March. There is another break until the beginning of school again in April. There are final exams at the end of each term, with the first and second terms also featuring midterms. See +HELP +EVENTS for the scheduling of exams on the MUSH!
For further details, see the specific pages listed below.
The Basics of K-12 Life
When school is in session, it runs from Monday through Saturday, though Saturday is a half-day. School starts each day at 8 AM and runs to 3 PM (except Saturdays, which end at noon). Lunch break is typically an hour at noon, and each class is also usually an hour long. Instead of moving from classroom to classroom for lessons, the teacher for each subject comes to the students, who remain in their homeroom. Each homeroom has a particular teacher assigned to it to take role and start the day. Homerooms are separated by year, and each homeroom has a number, which consists of the particular year as well as a alphabetic designation to distinguish it from the other homerooms of that year. So, a third year student might be in homeroom 3-A or homeroom 3-C.
Years are the equivalent of grade in other systems. For high school students, for example, a 10th grader is a 1st year, an 11th grader a 2nd year, and a 12th grader a 3rd year.
Clubs are an important aspect of K-12 school life. Most students are in at least one club, and it's considered a little odd to not be in any. They typically run from when school lets out at 3 to about 5 on the days the clubs meet. Some students also go to cram school or other places to improve their education after clubs so as to ensure they get into a good high school or college, so it's not impossible for a student to spend as much as half the day on school-related activities.
For most schools in Japan, uniforms are the norm. The exact dress code and its enforcement varies by the school, as some schools allow for more variation and modification of the uniform than others, but the basics remain the same: boys and girls wear different uniforms, and there are uniforms for the summer and winter seasons. Summer uniforms are lighter, with shorter sleeves, while winter uniforms are tailored for the cooler months. The change from winter to summer is typically around the beginning of June, and lasts to the end of September.
Examinations are held for middle schools, high schools and colleges. Getting into a good middle and later high school paves the way for getting into a good college, and getting into a good college paves the way for a good career, so much pressure is placed on students to excel in their college examinations. Those who pass are accepted into a particular university, while those who fail receive the nickname 'ronin' and must wait another year to try the exams again.
High school is not mandatory in Japan, though elementary and middle school are. A student can opt not to attend high school, or drop out of high school at any time to enter the work force.
The Basics of College Life
Compared to K-12 in Japan, college is much easier, to the point where many Japanese students actually prefer to study abroad so that their classes are sufficiently challenging for them. This isn't to say that Japanese college is incredibly easy, but the hardest part of any higher education in Japan is actually the entrance exams themselves.
For the most part, college in Japan is the same as it is in other countries. Students receive much more free time compared to their K-12 school years, and it's not uncommon for students to skip classes--for some, attendance isn't taken very seriously. There are no uniform requirements.
Cost for colleges in Japan have gone down in recent years due to the declining birthrate and population.
St. Hermelin High School
Located in Lunarvale, St. Hermelin High is notable for having among their student body more foreign-born students than is usual, as a result of the local U.S. Military base. Among the schools in Lunarvale, it is certainly the best academically-speaking, though not as good as some of the schools found in other cities. Still, business leaders and CEOs have been educated here. It boasts a number of extracurricular clubs, cultural and athletic alike. Their Drama Club is particularly considered excellent, and has a tradition of putting on performances of Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Snow Queen'.
The building is a large one, and features a gym that was remodeled in 2009, the first major upgrade since the school's founding in 1964. Like many schools, different years are found on different floors of the main building. The faculty is typically well-regarded by most of the student body. The principal, Ooishi, is known to be a kind and caring woman who even the delinquents tend to like.
Their uniform color is grey, with high collar uniforms for the boys and sailor-style for the girls. They include a pin with the school seal, which is a white ermine against blue, ringed with blue laurel leaves and topped by a Chi Rho. The school name, against green, is also featured on the pin.
Karukozaka High School
Karukozaka High ('Shallow Incline' High) is a high school located in one of the quieter neighborhoods of Yumezaki Ward. Its nickname locally is 'Karu High', and it is considered the second-best school to send children to in Sumaru, after Seven Sisters. It's known for its particularly good science courses, above and beyond the other subjects taught in the school.
The uniform consists of a bright blue blazer or blouse, with horizontally-stripped blue and green pants or skirt. There is a navy necktie for boys, and a navy ribbon for girls. The school has a rather lax uniform code, so there are few restrictions on what garments, hairstyles, and uniform modifications a student may wear or have.
Located just outside of Sumaru City, Kikkashou Academy ('Order of the Chrysanthemum' Academy) is an old, prestigious middle school for girls around 12-15 years old. It is populated primarily of young girls from old families or families in positions of power in various Japanese industries.
Kikkashou Academy was first established as a means to begin properly educating and grooming young girls of upper class families into educated and well-rounded wives of the elite and upper class. Today, Kikkashou Academy now focuses on grooming them into becoming educated contributing members to Japanese society, offering courses on various languages, sciences, and maths alongside classes on traditional subjects like ikebana arrangement, naginatajutsu, and tea-serving. Many powerful women in today's society have hailed from there, and credit the academy for jump-starting their interest in their future careers and goals when they were young.
Those who know of the existence of the NWO would find that many of the recent classes of students tended to be daughters of various members or funders of the NWO. It is, however, not the school's primary focus, nor is there any firm link between the two.
Their school colors are brown, yellow, and orange, and their school signet is based around the chrysanthemum.
Seven Sisters High School
Located in Sumaru's Rengedai Ward, Seven Sisters High is the school that local parents hope their children will be accepted into. It boasts an excellent academic reputation, and the athletics department doesn't fare too badly either. It's seen a few local and national leaders among its alumni. Its local nickname is 'Sevens'.
The students of Sevens are typically seen as popular by most of the other high schools in the area, and have a bit of a rivalry with Kasugayama students--though, to be honest, it's more that Kasugayama students tend to be annoyed by the popularity of Sevens as a school and Sevens students tend to think that 'Cuss High' students are trash.
Academically, the school does quite well, though some of the faculty are a little odd, possessing a number of odd personal quirks or interests. Highly regarded by most of the student body is Saeko Takami, known to be persistant with getting through to even the most difficult students and encouraging their dreams. The principal is Takashi Hanya, nicknamed 'Hannya' (a type of demon) by the students, the vast majority of whom hate him.
Like many schools, Sevens features three floors... with an additional floor in the clocktower. A number of rumors have circulated through the years about the clocktower at Sevens. It's said that a teacher perished there once, and that his ghost still haunts the tower. Whatever the reality of the story, passage into the clocktower is barred, particularly after a more recent incident that damaged the mechanisms and shattered the stained glass face of the clock.
The school colors for Sevens are white and black, with blazers for the boys and sailor suits for the girls. They feature a white stripe down the jacket sleeves for both genders, and along the pants legs for the guys and skirts for the girls. The ties and ribbons vary in color by year. First years have green, second years have red, and third years have blue. The dress code is rather strict and is enforced by faculty. Both uniforms feature the school emblem, seven yellow stars against black and matched with red and white bars on the edges. The school's name is written in gold against blue on the emblem.
Kasugayama High School
Located in Sumaru's Hirasaka Ward, Kasugayama High ('Spring Mountain' High) is a boy's-only high school that focuses on wayward, troubled or delinquent youths. As a result, the school has a bit of a bad reputation, which is either deserved or undeserved depending on who one talks to.
To be fair, not all of their students are aggressive, and more than a few of the student population are excellent students... but this does tend to be the exception rather than the norm. Small gangs are common among the student body. As expected of an institution of its nature, its academic reputation is not good, though the sports teams do well enough.
Disparagingly nicknamed 'Cuss High' by some (especially Sevens Students), the students of Kasugayama naturally don't take very well to insult. It's recommended that the nickname /not/ be used where Kasugayama students can hear it, unless one is itching for a fight.
The building is quite large, with three floors divided by the various years. One oddity of the school is the large bomb shelter in the basement, dating back to the World War II era. Rumors say that it's easy to get lost down there, but they also say there's a particular trick to getting out of there if one has a mirror on them. The faculty of the school simply doesn't seem to care too much about the students except to ensure nothing too untoward happens on school grounds. The students don't tend to think much of the faculty either.
The uniform colors are bright blue, like the color of a spring mountain sky. The male-only uniforms feature high collars. Some modifications to uniforms naturally occur among the student body, and the faculty don't seem to care enough to enforce the dress code strictly at all.
Gekkoukan High School
Gekkoukan High ('Moonlight Hall' High) is situated in Port Island, right on the very artificial island that has given the city its name. Its construction was funded by the Kirijo Group in 1999 following an unfortunate laboratory explosion that year in that location. The Group still provides financial backing for the school. Of schools in the region, it has an excellent reputation both academically and athletically. The Kirijo Group CEO's own daughter has attended Gekkoukan.
The school has a rather large campus, including an observatory (though it's difficult for anyone to say exactly where it rests on campus). There is a separate and extensive building for sports activities and clubs, including a track field and a swimming pool. Like many schools, years are separated by floor. The gates to the school are closed by 10 PM at the absolute latest and locked, and no one save certain staff are allowed inside after closing for any reason. This is because of, though only few are aware of it, the emergence of the Tartarus on school grounds in the Dark Hour (see Dark Hour).
The faculty of Gekkoukan is considered to be excellent overall, if somewhat quirky. Most teachers and other staff have their particular interests, such as the nurse's (a man named Edogawa) obsession with the occult and alternative medicine. Still, they tend to do their job well in spite of such oddities.
The uniforms are plain black for both male and female students, with jackets and skirts for the girls and blazers and trousers for the boys. Boys have a black string tie, while girls have a red ribbon. Both uniforms feature the school emblem, a red ringed circle with the center divided into alternating quarters of black and white. Uniform policy is somewhat lax; while students must wear their uniforms, they're allowed to wear different jackets if they choose, so long as they're tasteful.
Yasogami High School
Located in Inaba, Yasogami High ('Many Gods' High) is one of the high schools located in the Yasoinaba area. It's an older school, and has been in use academically for many decades. It has a roughly average reputation: it's nothing special when matched against other cities in the greater region, but it performs its task of preparing the future of Japan well enough for the rural community.
The school is split between two structures: the Classroom Building, and the Practice Building. The Classroom Building consists of three floors, divided by year, where students study and receive their education. The Practice Building is two floors high, and consists of the gym and rooms for various cultural and athletics clubs to meet. Overall, the faculty is considered by students to be quite good and attentive to student needs, though certain teachers have a bad reputation (due to abrasive personality or other less-than-charming quirks).
Uniforms at Yasogami are sailor uniforms for girls and the high-collar jackets for boys. The colors of Yasogami are black and black-and-gray houndstooth, with a yellow bow for girls. The school emblem is present on all school uniforms. It takes the form of three concentric circles, each nested inside the other, with a three-pointed star in the center with the kanji for 'high' (as in 'high school') alongside it.
Sumaru University is located in Sumaru's Aoba Ward, towards the south of that part of the city. It has a good reputation on the national level. The university has a strong law, business and art program, with most of the remaining programs running the range from 'good' to 'average', with the sole exception their sports programs. The Sumaru University sports teams are something of a joke, and have never won a competition between other universities yet.
Entrance exams are about moderate in difficulty, as is the cost for attending the university.
The campus for the university is rather large, with the oldest of the buildings having been constructed in the 1930's. Some buildings have been refurbished or remodeled since then, and new buildings have been put up, leaving the campus studded with a variety of contrasting styles of architecture. Of particular note are an excellent library and a memorial hall that has been listed nationally as one of the great tangible cultural properties of the country. The campus grounds are open and clean, and feature a variety of well-maintained plant life.
Dorms and other student housing are mainly located off-campus. The dorms are almost all in cramped high-rise buildings, and for those who can find them, most students prefer to rent apartments in Aoba instead.
Fra Mauro University
Fra Mauro University is found in Port Island, located on the main land section of the city. It is considered one of the best universities in Japan, and has a long-standing rivalry with Tokyo University. It has a particular focus on the scientific fields, from natural to political sciences. It possesses many of the same athletics programs as English universities, and includes fencing, rowing, rugby, and other pursuits. The university's fencing team is renowned nationally.
As a result of its excellent programs, though, Fra Mauro is both expensive and difficult to get into.
The university is quite old, founded during the Meiji Restoration by Jesuits, and later reconstructed after World War II during the Occupation by a Rosicrucian architect. As a result, it possesses a number of unusual buildings, including a large clocktower, a main hall with a clockwork glockenspiel, and other buildings that look more like European cathedrals than Japanese academic buildings. Odd carvings are common across many buildings, and typically include alchemical, Masonic, and Rosicrucian symbolism. Rumor has it that there are rooms and floors in certain buildings that cannot be reached by any known staircase or doorway. Which buildings exactly have these secret rooms and floors tends to change with who is doing the telling.
There is no student housing on-campus, with all the dorms located in the surrounding neighborhoods.