Is Real Japanese School Life Similar to That in Anime?

  • Anime, which derives from the English word “animation”, is a Japanese cartoon typically in an easily recognizable style that differs from western cartoons. Popular anime shows are subtitled or dubbed into other languages; soe examples of world-famous anime would be Sailor Moon and Pokemon. Although anime comes in a huge variety of genres from drama to science-fiction to horror to fantasy, many ideas are inspired from the real world. Even in worlds that are not meant to be realistic, we see examples of real-life features, as these of course provided the inspiration. One example of real life that you can see in anime is high school. Many protagonists in anime shows are high school students and therefore some scenes take place in their place of education with fellow students.

    Anime shows about schools showcase events such as having fun and chatting in the classroom, attending school clubs several times a year, doing daily chores, and spending time with friends in quiet parts of the school. Many anime shows feature high school students with scenes taking place inside their school. But how does high school life in anime reflect real life Japanese education?

    High School in Japan

    Junior high school in Japan starts at around age 13 and students enter high school at 15 or 16. In anime, you might see students hanging out with their friends, eating snacks, and chatting in their classrooms. Unfortunately, real Japanese schools are much more strict and many students do not have as much time as you may think for cliques and other things similar to what you might see in anime shows. Most of their time is spent on academic studies, and they have limited time for entertainment that isn’t immediately associated with their studies.

    High school students, in particular, are preparing for the difficult university entrance exam, which requires a lot of extra studies. Some high school students also engage in school club activities or English conversation schools to give their resume an edge or extra help with their English exams. In order to understand the reality of Japanese schools better, here are a few of the rules that the students must follow in most schools in Japan.

    1. Arriving to school in the morning

    Safety is one of the most important factors in Japanese schools and it is taken very seriously. This starts before the students even arrive at the school grounds. It is forbidden to drive a car to school, and students cannot even be dropped off by their parents, friends, or guardians.

    Many of the students either reach the school on foot or ride bicycles if the distance is not too great. In other cases, pupils must take public transportation, such as trains or buses. School policies often require students to stand on buses and trains, leaving seats open for other travelers, such as the elderly, in order to exhibit consideration and politeness.

    2. Prohibition of certain activities in public

    High school students in anime often have quirky traits such as reading while they are walking, chewing gum or candy, or some other personal habit that makes them a more interesting character.

    However, reading books while taking a stroll, chewing gum, or any other “impolite” actions may not allowed by schools because this might leave a bad reputation towards the school that the students go to. However, these behaviors tend to be less considerable as the students move further away from the school.

    3. School uniforms are a must

    In anime, uniforms can vary, although it is common to see short skirts, long socks, and some kind of cute hairstyle with hair accessories, large glasses, and perhaps jewelry. Here is a picture of a real typical Japanese school uniform.

    There are some other variations available, but in short, the most common types are the blazer and sailor. The blazer style involves white, long-sleeved shirts that are essential for boys and girls, followed by black blazers. Neckties are worn around the necks which are applied to both genders. Sometimes, girls are required to wear only the ribbons. The main features of the sailor style have sailor-like collars and ribbons on the chest for girls. In contrast, the boys wear high-collared jackets with golden buttons, which are called “gakurans”.

    Students are usually allowed to remove their jackets during the hotter summer months and just wear white short-sleeved shirts. The boys wear casual t-shirts underneath their sleeved shirts.

    It is strictly forbidden in Japanese schools to wear nail polish, too much makeup, clothes that don’t adhere to the school uniform, or to even dye their hair (unless it’s black or dark brown). The extravagant hairstyles and colors you may stop in anime shows, then, don’t reflect real life at all and are simply up to the creativity of the artist!

    Interestingly, because of the strict rules on school uniforms which arguably dissuades from originality, cute stationery and bag accessories are very popular among students to express themselves and their interests.

    4. Wearing indoor shoes

    Once at a school, students are normally provided with lockers or shoe racks where they have to place their outdoor shoes (usually black or brown loafers) and wear “uwabaki” (Japanese indoor slippers) before entering a classroom. The main purpose of wearing indoor shoes is to keep cleaning and maintaining the floor to a minimum since there are no janitors in the building.

    What you might not see in anime is “o-soji”, where students clean their own classroom, including the floors. This is to encourage the students to learn valuable life lessons such as taking care of your own space. Janitors and cleaners are not hired in Japanese schools because the students are required clean up their own mess.

    5. No snacks or instant ramen at school

    Sugary snacks and processed foods are banned in most of the school compounds as they provide little to no nutritional benefit. Allowing such foods can contribute to the development of many health problems, like tooth decay, obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure. The students often eat school lunches or boxed lunches that are usually made by their mothers in the early morning, which consist of rice, eggs, fish, fruit and vegetables, or other healthy ingredients.

    With these rules in mind, do you think that real life Japanese school life is similar to that in your favorite anime show? Like any TV show, real life doesn’t always reflect what happens in reality. Nevertheless, inspiration for anime did come from real school life, such as the school uniforms (though the anime versions may be more quirky) and the structure of schools themselves. Next time you see your favorite anime show, see how many “real life” school rules are being broken!

    1. John Robles says:

      I can’t believe some people actually thought that school life depicted in anime is realistic.
      I watch American sitcoms and I thought them to be accurate depiction of life in america.

      1. John Robles says:

        I never thought them to be accurate depiction of life in america.

        1. love this says:

          yeah cause in america the first rule there is to have s/e/x

      2. dude you should twatch this… the skirt thing is actually true for many schools in japan. but not for all….

      3. Anonymous says:

        school anime’s is more like american school life. its a bit weird how accurate it can be,

        1. Michael Jones says:

          lolol ya right, anime school is nothing like American schools you weeaboo

      4. driftking420 says:

        Obviously EVERYTHING isn’t true to fashion. Its safe to say anime doesn’t represent real life, movies do that much better. Of course, i speak of the hit movie Fast and Furious 3: Tokyo Drift. I have been assured by many a fellow that the underground drifting scene, as depicted in fast and furious 3 Tokyo drift is REAL and LIVE. But where might one encounter such a scene? I’m told that if you seen then you mean it and then you know you have to go. I commit crimes on a regular basis, what am i doing wrong. I dont want to be a wasteland weaboo, i want to be the drift sensei, the master drifter, the fastest, the most furious, the king.

    2. Kevin Folino says:

      Next you’ll try telling me the student counsel doesn’t rule the school with absolute power, even making the principal and teachers cower in fear! lol

      1. mchi says:

        I knew I’m not the only one who thought of that. Lol

      2. glenda yang says:

        where most of the time happens in anime. Haha

    3. Anonymous says:

      But they have vending machines whichave no good preservatives

    4. Anonymous says:

      But but but.. How about prison school?

      1. kjh says:

        you are dumb

        1. koyomi says:

          and you are even dumber

    5. Mikado Kusanagi says:

      Bullying is true though like in the anime but I guess it happens in all schools around the world…

      1. Anonymous says:

        Yeah I guess your right

      2. Anonymous says:

        no, not in India

        1. Anonymous says:

          Ya India has strict rules of not bulling and if they do they are expelled with a big letter of what they and this is quite a dangerous situation for their future and so the is no no bulling in indi as

      3. Anonymous says:

        Not in vietnam, they’ll expel you if they figure out you invol in violent, even outside of school.

    6. Anonymous says:

      But highschool life depicted in anime is accurate in the Philippines.

      1. kjh says:

        I’m a pinoy your wrong lmao

        1. koyomi says:


        2. Jedii says:

          Yup, very wrong actually.

        3. liit says:

          I’m pinoy also pero you’re wrong sa school ko pede ganun

          1. RadRad says:

            Sa school din namin pwede rin.

            1. saber says:

              yeah esp. Rizal High School of Pasig.

      2. teddy says:

        LOL it’s wrong first thing in PH after school is DOTA AND LOL

      3. Anonymous says:

        which part of Filipino highschool life is similar to those in the animes? lols. haha :)

      4. Anonymous says:

        because in our country we fuck the rules

        1. Eschariot says:

          In “our country”? Wow! You must be one of those type who generalized everyone as the likes of you. Oh and you must be from a faraway/unheard public school then, because in our school in PH, we obey the rules.

      5. Haru says:

        What? No.

      6. Anonymous says:

        Don’t be a weaboo

      7. Anonymous says:

        yeah you are totally wrong.. i am from the philippines too

      8. Fleur says:

        I’m also from the Philippines and no, it’s not. This one article is more reflective of the school I went. Minus the car prohibition (because no one is old enough to have a license) and indoor shoes (replaced with shoe coats or house slippers but the concept is the same). Extra curricular activities are only permitted to studdnts who meet a certain average. Instant food was forbidden in the canteen to promote health. Etc., etc.
        If anime-esque high school, that would be the time when most students walk home because the schol is far from the main road.

        1. Mochan says:

          Wow Philippine school life has changed a lot since my school days then.

          In La Salle EVERYONE is required to have a club activity. There is no “going home club” I ate Chocnut, Football, Clover Bits and Chippy bought from the school canteen and we did have bossy ego-inflated student councils. Foundation Day is like the school festivals, intramurals are the sports events, yeah what you see in anime, that’s how my school life was.

      9. Anonymous says:

        I’m filipino and it’s true. :)

      10. Anonymous says:

        Actually i see the similarities between anime and ph school. The maturity level is about the same.

    7. Gyler Luis says:

      If I’m not mistaken, most vending machines in Japan have no preservatives (depends on the brand, of course) since most beverages are fruit drinks. Seldom you will see sodas in their vending machines.

      1. Anon says:

        There is plenty of soda in Japanese vending machines and other high sugar drinks

    8. Anonymous says:

      if you have just realized all of these now, then you are watching the wrong kind of school life anime. i have not read a single new thing i haven’t seen in an anime yet.

    9. anonymous says:

      The photo of three animated girls is from Clannad, and i just finished watching it. And i didn’t think that this 5 rules were broken in any way in this anime !!

      1. AstroNerdBoy says:

        Most anime I’ve seen or manga I’ve read have depicted school pretty much as this article dictates. There are certain, obvious things that would never happen in reality, especially in a comedy series or a fantasy series.

    10. Filip Olsson says:

      well ofc it’s not 100% the same but there are some that are like cleaning duty. and im pretty sure they have shorter skirts in some school too..

      1. Anonymous says:

        There are no short skirts, many girls simply roll them up around their waists to make them look short, thats it.

        1. NEO says:

          really? short skirts would be awesome

          1. Anonymous says:

            actually, according to *Rachel and Jun, short shirts aren’t allowed, there are teachers who check if they’re wearing proper uniform, right before they enter the school gate.

    11. Anonymous says:

      Actually, the one thing that’s consistent in a bunch of anime I’ve seen is the indoor shoes thing. The lockers seem to be a good place for a conversation before actual class. Ditto for the uniforms and transportation. What surprised me, in all honesty, was the bentos

    12. Anonymous says:

      There are no students with special abilities that can make energy balls? NO WAY! My whole life is a LIE!

      1. no really says:

        well of course there really are but they are a secret! they are afraid if everybody knew they really had super cute magical girls and stuff we would all come there, and japan is already pretty crowded.

    13. Anonymous says:

      i really like the way they lives, i hope i can study too, (ANIMELOVERS) Japanese is my LUCK of LIFE!!!

    14. Commandereon says:

      Panty raids, there has to be panty raids right?! =]

    15. Aeneri says:

      Most, if not all, Slice of Life/RomCom Anime with a Middle or High School Setting follow all of the things mentioned in this article. The only times wherein these stated facts/rules are not portrayed clearly in an anime is if the anime aims to be unique and/or has elements in it that are meant to be unrealistic/exaggerated (i.e., anime series with a fantasy/supernatural genre). .

      1. Anonymous says:

        Yeah your right.

        1. Anonymous says:


    16. Anonymous says:

      Are japanese schools at least active in sports like in the animes?? Im not talking about the special moves haha but just the interest in diff sports as portrayed in several animes?

      1. Anonymous says:

        Yes actually Japan is really popular in baseball and track/field

    17. Anonymous says:


      1. Anonymous says:

        I know right!??

    18. Anonymous says:

      Can’t see the difference. Well I thought that there would be something interesting.

    19. mai-mai says:

      Actually the comment abt short skirt being rolled up to make it shorter is true.. i cant believe the weird hair color n style arent included. They cant have those hair color.. and the shoes are correct. same bags too

    20. Sagashite Chi says:

      still love the long sleeve uniforms tho :D but i really didn’t think about japanese school life is like an anime

    21. Paradox says:

      I don’t agree with the uniforms on this one beacuse i have been in japan and the school uniforms that i see there is not like that. PS. I know that there are different uniforms too.

    22. Anonymous says:

      LAHAT naman Pala kayo Pilipino pa-English English PA kayo. Pweee!!

      1. Anonymous says:

        There is nothing wrong with speaking English. Haven’t you realized there are some Filipinos in the Philippines who don’t speak Filipino well, but they speak English fluently? What about those who speak more than one language? What about Filipinos who were born and/or raised abroad, but they currently live in the Philippines?

        Clearly, the close-minded one is you.

      2. Anonymous says:

        There is nothing wrong with speaking English. Haven’t you realized there are some Filipinos in the Philippines who don’t speak Filipino well, but they speak English fluently? What about those who speak more than one language? What about Filipinos who were born and/or raised abroad, but they currently live in the Philippines?

        Clearly, the close-minded one is you.

        1. Anonymous says:

          Its ok, filipinos that say that are too stupid to read books. Try playing dota or LoL here haha, “English pa more.”

    23. Bruce says:

      I studied at fuji high school was so damn strict I wished I was back in U.S. hardly talked to anyone and the homework was a pain in my ass you’ve got to be an idiot to think JP school is like anime

      1. Anonymous says:

        Try Chinese school

      2. sucky schools are everywhere says:

        i went to hs in the u.s. and mine was exactly like that, 24/7 homework and no social, just depends on your school

    24. destructiontoreborn says:

      yeah lies! how could it be? in anime schools has computers, in Philippines only schools in Metro Manila has computers (note: not all cities in metro manila, how much more schools from provinces.) Most schools in the Philippines is very far to reach (plus, lack of school supplies.), students must pass the seven mountains and seas. that doesn’t look like anime, thats hell. LOL the real anime are the Filipino Politics.

    25. Anonymous says:

      I really don’t know on what type of anime you’re watching, but all the statements present above are all evident in every school anime that I watch, so what’s the difference?

    26. Mark says:

      I don’t know what type of school-themed anime you’re watching, but all the statements you stated above were present in every school-themed anime I watched. So what’s the difference?

    27. radge says:

      Politics in the Philippines is nothing but a joke. We vote for the popular and who have political background. But to study in this country is NOT a laughing matter. Although not all of us here are poor, the fact that in most countries (or perhaps some) they see us no more than “lower life forms..” and I completely agree that school life in the Philippines is way more anime-like than in Japan. :)

    28. Anonymous says:

      When you study in a Japanese high school, expect the following to be present in ANY school:
      1.) Your own group of friends.
      2.) A rich blonde girl in your group.
      3.) A summer outing…luckily you have a rich blonde hair friend with a vacation house.
      4.) Hanabi festivals and fireworks.
      5.) Cultural week project with your class.
      6.) Chasing and running around with your group.
      7.) Studying only for exams.

      …Oh wait, I think this applies to anime.

      1. Anonymous says:

        1, 6, 7 applies to Malaysia

    29. Akiba says:

      Umm.. Can I ask, how sure you are that there’s no computer at schools in rural areas in PH? Note: Jeyrick Sigmaton a.k.a “Carrot Man” lives at mountains. We know that he’s hard working person but some of his spare time aside from harvesting carrots, he uses his account in Facebook. If Jeyrick can use computer, what more for students? Of course, they can also.

    30. Kyousuke says:

      If you’re asking me if anime school life can apply into reality on philippine schools, yes.

      1. We pilipinos can use both methods on how to get to school: Car Transport or just walking. Here’s cool, some students here in PH, instead of trains and buses, we use a public transport called “Jeep”. The fare is cheaper than trains and buses. Also, some students use their bikes to get to school.

      2. Some scenes in anime can apply into pilipino students like going into a classmate’s house and have fun like crazy EVEN lewd stuffs (not having s*x). Ex: Pocky Game, Truth or Dare, etc.

      On public areas, we hang-out after school, play online games, etc. We’ll do what we want as long as we don’t disturb other people and disobey the laws.

      Some schools don’t care what students do as long as students don’t use the school uniform of the school. And schools here thinks that; We, students, should have their own freedom for what we are doing as long as we obey rules and laws.

      3. Our country is a conservative country. So, skirt school uniforms are really long. The shortest will be 1-inch under toe. For males, we use polo and t-shirts with long pants. For delinquents, they trim their pants called “Baston”. But these baston pants are prohibited in school. I just don’t know why they do that.

      4. You may not know but we also use indoor shoes. Instead of uwabaki, we use “school rags”. We’ll just attach them to our outdoor shoes and it’s done. Simple as that. But for some schools, they don’t use it not because they have janitors but because the school wants to help other people and hire them as janitors and have the janitors have their pay instead of robbing, use drugs, etc.

      5. Even now, students are free to choose to what they eat. Also, some students bring healthy lunches made by their moms. After lunch, some students drink their tetra juices on rooftops. Yes, rooftops! You read it right. I won’t say what school but it exist. Just enroll here if you want.

      1. ???? says:

        If i remember M****m college have a wide accessible rooftop, my school also have one but have been conquered by some club (radio club or mountain dudes i forgot) and since then non club members have been prohibited to enter

    31. Anonymous says:

      Clannadddddddddd. Dango dango dango dango T.T

    32. Stephanie says:

      I mostly knew all of this because I studied in Japanese culture and Language at a local university but really like the uniforms, we had to have a strict rule in winter it was blazer (if you came into school without one, they’d make you go back home to get it while giving you a weeks worth of detentions) it was optional to wear a jumper under, trousers (girls HAD to wear trousers in the winter and their colour had to be dark navy blue if they were black or a lighter blue we had to yet again go home to change) flat, padded shoes to protect our feet since we did classes such a design tech which you used machinery and you had to have your tie a certain length and the exact colour of the school logo or the school would make you re-do it/buy another one.

      Summer though was different you didn’t have to wear a blazer, summer t-shirts were allowed and skirts were allowed for girls, boys however were NOT allowed to wear shorts.

      Canteens would only sell certain foods, most people would either have packed lunches or leave the school at lunch to get food.

      I must admit though compared to a japanese school ours was quite laid back in England but they still didn’t like the idea of their schools reputation being damaged.

    33. Anonymous says:

      Well….to whoever wrote this article

      point no. 1,3,5 does not actually prove your point of the article….as a lot of slice of life anime actually do go by that….

      and also…to the ppl who said abt japanese schools being strict,
      Try Chinese schools in Malaysia,
      1. The school school is strict
      2. Some strict teachers punish students for unreasonable reasons(Teachers expects perfection)
      3. No talking allowed, even during recess(for schools that are very strict)
      4. Teachers who even scold prefects for doing their job, bcos they skipped his/her class
      5. and there is a whole more list i can say about chinese schools in malaysia…..

    34. Dave says:

      For the record, I live in Japan, and have been working at public high schools in Chiba and Saitama prefecture (southwest and north of Tokyo, respectively).

      For the most part, the article was correct. However, I have never seen a school that actually forbade its students from eating snacks (outside of classtime, of course!) and students do have plenty of time for socializing and forming cliques! Granted, this is at public schools… private schools are usually much stricter, and the students are far more serious about studying.

    35. Anonymous says:

      It all makes sense now… The reason why the Rebel Alliance can’t find the Empire’s bases is because Palpatine somehow found out about Earth and sends all the Storm Troopers to Japanese high schools, thus eliminating the need for any kind of training base! Ingenious….

      *mumblemumble* Handwaveaboutthembeingclones *grumblemumble*

    36. meloop says:

      Japan has nothing on us Americans-Almost no one now, in America now even, remembers or knows how Private schools in NYC,(even in NYC), were often run like mini fascist states. Similarly, until the mid to late 70’s, Catholic and a few other religious high schools, were run exacly as mini fascist states where it could be dangerous for some girls . Mostly, as the nuns retired and married and young teachers not members of religious communities entered Catholic schools, these dangers and aburdities faded. a Common practice was early AM inspection. Girls, always in uniform skirts had to kneel,(on demand) to show a nun or other inspector,that their skirt actually touched the floor: making it about knee level in height. As a result, the girls folded the skirts several inches at the waist , after inspection, raising the hems up again. The spring dresses were all but transparent for the lucky girls in some Catholic schools and tended to blow up if a car passed going over 10 Mph.
      Boys were legally punished and in many private or religious schools, could be beaten by various powerful teachers. There was no recourse as children in the US are “chattels”(property) of their parents and so religious and private schools were allowed authority “in loco parentis”. They could hit, pull hair, kick, insult and strip search anyone who was a student. School authority also extended beyond school grounds for varying distances.
      So don’t think the craziness in Japanese anime is totally out-there. Few people now even believe me when I tell them the true stories of 1960’s (and earlier) American school life.

    37. Yeah. Sounds like the oppositive of the wild wild west usa.

    38. Kai Poon says:

      I object, I am for one Japanese and it is certainly not as strict as seen here. Sweets are definitely allowed for the most part, and the public transport part is not enforced. Being dropped off at school is usually accepted and the rules based on “impoliteness” is similar to those of Canada or the States. I personally think that Japanese high schools are much more similar to anime than the high schools in north America, and the collaboration and connection between students are much more realistic. The high school animes show that there really isn’t much of a hierarchy between the students and they are generally well connected and communicate as equals. Not nearly as much bullying and a lot more respect and kindness to others. I will also say on a personal note that the Japanese language is a lot more dramatic and fun to talk in.

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