I have been living in Japan for almost 12 years and I still learn things that surprise me. It isn't that I think I know everything about Japan but rather what I learn just seems so surprising!
The other day my high school student (she is 16) was telling me that she had gone to Canal City (beautiful shopping mall with movie theaters) to see the movie "Alice" and all the shows from the morning until about 3:30 pm were sold out so she couldn't watch it. I asked her what about the 4 pm movie and she said she couldn't because she had to go home. I thought perhaps she had something important to do at home but no...she has to be home at 6pm! Turns out this isn't exactly strange. I asked the other students in the class (all girls). One other student said 6 was also her curfew. The other girl said on Friday or Saturday nights she had to be home around 10-the other 2 looked jealous. I asked my boss about his daughter and he said when she was in high school she had to be home at 8. What kind of cracks me up about this is that most cram schools are open until 10 or 11 and before tests I have had students tell me they stayed at cram school until 1 am!!! So....studying and going staying at school for various reasons is fine until 10 or later but don't stay out "late" if you are having fun!! I should point out that high school kids don't have jobs in most cases as it can be against school rules, there are no school dances or proms and dating styles seem to be different (mind you, I live in the "countryside" so things are probably very different here than in Tokyo) so that perhaps changes things a bit but...seriously?! 6pm?! (Please note that I am NOT saying that all Japanese kids have such an early curfew...but it also doesn't seem as rare as you might think-I've been asking around.)
Another thing I learned this week was that elementary school teachers have to do a home visit. The school year starts in April and in April is also the home visit. So, for one week the students go to school in the morning only and then in the afternoon, the teacher goes to 5-8 students' homes and talks to the mother (most of the time). Now, since school has just started, this is not really to talk about how the child is doing but more to see the home life but as my friend puts it, you don't really see or learn that much. She has been a teacher for 16 years and says it is the most stressful part of her job as the home visits are very formal. And, unpleasant things do happen like being yelled at. Now, I'm pretty sure that my teachers never came to my house but I am curious.....in other countries do teachers do home visits?