A Look Into A Small Japanese Town (Part 3)

This is a classroom stripped to the bones. Sad. Can't wait to see what it looks like in a month though.

This is a classroom stripped to the bones. Where are the desks!? Where is the life!? Sad. Can’t wait to see what it looks like in a month though.


A school undergoing changes.

Why All The Construction?

Why, indeed? Well, put simply, it’s to renovate a building that’s been in some use since the Meiji Era. It’s hardly the same building exactly; tons of additions have been made (and unmade, such as the roof that’s no longer accessible) and many alterations keep things fresh. This is the latter. While the building won’t be changing drastically, it’s getting a bright coat of paint, and damn, does it help. This new section is brighter than the sun on a clear day. Well, not that bright. That’d be annoying. And this isn’t, just so we’re clear.

In order for this fresh coat of paint to be put on, we’ve had to deal with almost constant construction for the past few months. Sections of the school have been sectioned off, hours spent carrying boxes and books and heavy equipment from pre-construction areas to post-construction areas. It’s been fun, and I’ve felt useful (I always feel useful after some good physical labor), but it’s really thrown off the pace too. Unfortunately, the loudness and inconvenience has put some people on edge. For a variety of reasons, we’re all looking forward to the final product.

So, let’s go see what the school looks like!

A Little Tour

Let’s take a walk, why don’t we?


Right outside the new staff room, looking down to the left. South, technically. Seems like as good a place to start as any. You can see the snow fresh outside.



We’re back at the old section of the school. You can tell by the gray floor. The second grade classroom is on the left, followed by the first grade classroom. These two rooms will be the last ones to undergo updates.


While we’re still technically in the oldest bit of the school, the open area straight ahead is the first construction bit we had this whole year. Memorial Hall, it’s called. Beyond that, at the end of the hallway is the science room and the home-ec room, where students can cook. On a less-important note, on the right you can see the tree I made with my students for Christmas!


Memorial Hall. Stuffed to the brim with objects from other classrooms, ready to be moved. On the wall you can see “七ヶ宿小学校Since2014” and below that a collection of pictures from the past year. It’s cute. It’s also weird to see something say “since 2014”, since it hasn’t been around for a long time.


To the right is the bathrooms and a staircase. Future blog post on Japanese elementary school bathrooms? We’ll see. Seems a little sketchy.

The Void




…up into the void. This is the area that’s about to have renovations. It’s looking pretty bare.


Some actual construction outside the window. It’s about a 20-30 foot fall, which would not be fun, if you ask me. Don’t know why you’d ask me about the 楽しさ of falls.


Here’s the handicap bathroom with all the crap in it. Don’t worry, we don’t have any handicapped students right now who will suffer from the lack of the bathroom. However, it should be noted that there are only handicap bathrooms on the third floor. That’s right: the THIRD floor. On a school with only staircases and no elevators. Probably did it for money (I’m under the impression that schools will sometimes get extra money if a school has handicap accessible features)? I can’t see another reason.


The 5th grade classroom (the image from the top). Empty. Lifeless. 空っぽ.


Here’s the Christmas tress I made with my 5th grade students while they listened to traditional Christmas songs and I gave some Christmas fun-fact quizzes. The Jibanyan star is my favorite. Below is a good quiz for Japanese learners. A bit low-level for 5th grade I reckon, but who am I to say? (If you’re curious, the answer is… the right one (ろうかはあるこう。くつをはく。(Walk in the hallway. Wear shoes.)))


Turn right for the 6th grade classroom. Their tree sits on the wall to the right. Ahead is an empty closet with the library on the left and the music room on the right.


Or what’s left of a library. If you’ve ever been curious about what a library looks like without books, here it is.


And a music room without instruments. On the board you can see the Japanese “do re mi” if you look closely / zoom in.


Leaving those rooms we look back on the section that’s about to be renovated. In the distance is the already completed section. Let’s have a look over there, why don’t we?

You know…

When I first heard the word for tour, ツアー, I was convinced it was the word for “sewer”, except that it didn’t make any sense in context. I was looking at a Japanese translation of a tour guide in London, actually. Comparing the English and Japanese set me straight.


The New Section


Crossing the barrier.


Here’s the new section. The floor is brighter than before, and there’s a little more light let in. At night, the ceiling lights are quite bright, only helping keep the area feeling active.


No other place to put the library except in the hall. The librarian’s face was horrified yesterday as everyone kept bringing books out of order. She’d spent so much time making it work, earlier this year. After a few minutes, I could see the resignation on her face. She did her best.


I love the library for all the books it has. Weird ones I’ve never read before (like The Magic Tree House series) have been very fun to read. But nothing beats the manga section. Here we got a ton of One Piece and Doraemon. And you can see 銀の匙 mixed in there too. Decent selection.


In the computer room is a makeshift classroom–the 4th graders, if I remember correctly. It’s a little cluttered, but I’m sure it’ll get better soon.


And last but not least, the sign-out table for the library (if students want to take a book home) in the hallway and the arts-and-crafts room to the right, filled with instruments.

And so that brings us to the end of our look at a school under construction. Anything else you wanted to see? Something you felt missing? Speak now, or forever hold your peace. :p

But, seriously. It’s going to be blocked off soon.

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