Last night, I had the pleasure of speaking to an actual Japanese high school teacher about high school life in Japan. I met him in a chatroom a year ago, but I never thought of asking him for details until last night. Here is some of the information that I gained from him. Please note that some of it may be exclusive to the particular Japanese high school that he works at.
First, I’ll start off with a time-table:
- Students may arrive at school anytime from 7:30 AM to 8:30 AM.
- Homeroom lasts from 8:30 AM to 8:40 AM.
- There is a ten-minute prep for the next class from 8:40 AM to 8:50 AM.
- The first class lasts from 8:50 AM to 9:40 AM.
- There is a ten-minute prep for the next class from 9:40 AM to 9:50 AM.
- The second class lasts from 9:50 AM to 10:40 AM.
- There is a ten-minute prep for the next class from 10:40 AM to 10:50 AM.
- The third class lasts from 10:50 AM to 11:40 AM.
- There is a ten-minute prep for the next class from 11:40 AM to 11:50 AM.
- The fourth class lasts from 11:50 AM to 12:40 PM.
- Lunchtime lasts from 12:40 PM to 1:15 PM.
- There is a ten-minute prep for the next class from 1:15 PM to 1:25 PM.
- The fifth class lasts from 1:25 PM to 2:15 PM.
- There is a ten-minute prep for the next class from 2:15 PM to 2:25 PM.
- The sixth class lasts from 2:25 PM to 3:15 PM.
- Students clean up the school from 3:15 PM to 3:30 PM.
- There is one final Homeroom class from 3:30 PM to 3:45 PM.
- At this point, students are free to leave and go home, or stick around and do club activities.
- During summer, the school closes at 6:00 PM. During winter, the school closes at 4:00 PM.
If we want to go full school simulation, then the game would follow a schedule exactly like this one.
In some Japanese high schools, the students stay in one classroom, and the teachers change classes. This would mean that the 10-minute gaps between classes are not playable sequences where you can walk around the school. This would mean that the only time you’re able to walk around the school is for 60 minutes before classes begin, 35 minutes during lunchtime, 15 minutes during clean-up time, and 135 minutes after school.
If we choose to set this game in a school where the students have to change classes during those 10-minute gaps, then there are potentially 6 more opportunities to walk around the school, but for much shorter periods of time.
Which would you prefer? Would you prefer ten or more opportunities to walk around the school throughout the day? Or would you prefer four chances to walk around the school? Do you think it would be best if the player is only allowed to walk around the school during club time, since that is the longest period of time that students can freely wander around the school?
I was also sure to ask him what is suspicious and what isn’t suspicious to see a student doing.
- It’s not suspicious for a student to wander around the school at lunchtime.
- It’s not suspicious for a student to wander around the school during clean-up time carrying around a trashcan (which may be used to transport a dangerous weapon that would otherwise raise suspicion).
- It’s not suspicious for a student to wander around the school during club time even if they’re not in a club. Many students stick around at school to study, or do their homework.
- Nobody would bat an eye if they saw a student carrying around a large case during club time (bokken case, guitar case, kyudo case). But if the student is sufficiently popular, then other students may know which club she belongs in and what kind of case she should / should not be carrying around. Other students from that club would also know who should and shouldn’t carry around a specific type of case.
- Students are expected to bring their own lunches to school. There are no cafeterias in Japanese high schools, although sometimes a local bakery will set up a stall somewhere in the school during lunch and sell various baked goods. Students can eat lunch anywhere they want as long as they are not obstructing anyone.
- Japanese schools don’t have hall monitors.
- Japanese schools don’t have janitors. The students are responsible for keeping the school clean. However, there is a groundskeeper, whose job is to take care of tasks that are too big for students, such as gardening work and performing repairs on the building.
- Japanese schools are extremely strict on truancy and tardiness. Attendance is monitored very carefully, and any absence will be noted very quickly.
- The entrance to a Japanese school has shoe lockers where students swap out their normal walking shoes for indoor shoes. Some Japanese schools also have small lockers for books outside of classrooms.
- Even though it’s not common to see in anime, Japanese students in real life do wear back packs, although this may vary from school to school.
He also pointed out another important detail. These are middle-school outfits:
And these are high-school outfits:
So, what do you think this information should mean for the game? What time(s) of day do you think the gameplay should take place? Should the player be allowed to take every possible opportunity between classes to set up traps, steal things, conceal and move weaponry, and socially sabotage their classmates? Or should the player be given a small number of opportunities to move around for a long period of time, such as the lunch time-frame and the club activity time-frame?