Ive been to Japanese school in Tokyo but also a non Japanese international school. Ive had my feet in both worlds for a long long time.
I decided to touch on my experience in a local Japanese elementary school.
The local elementary school was an interesting and odd few months of my life so far. The teachers didn’t really know what to do with me sometimes. They weren’t sure as to how much Japanese I understood or how much of their conversation I could understand. I was shy so that probably didn’t help. But i did prove to the teachers and students that i understood what they said, multiple times.
During my first week at the school, the teacher repeatedly made me answer all the questions in class in front of at least 20 other kids, which made me super uncomfortable. I knew I couldn’t answer certain Japanese comprehension questions with ease like the others, so I refused to answer. The other students didn’t really understand why i couldn’t answer a question, that to them, seems extremely simple. I had explained my background to everyone in the class on my first day when i had to introduce myself, but to them it was something they had heard of but never really seen before.
Adults are more intrigued by the concept of someone being mixed race compared to children. Schools are a place where both adults and children get together, and they gossip. Many parents would ask the infamous question, “Where are you really from?”. I have been brought up in the same area my entire life so it seemed appropriate, for me at least, to answer “Japan”. But the mothers wouldn’t accept my answer. Some of them even laughed and said “My son/daughter told me you cant speak Japanese!”. Which did great for my self esteem at the time.
I had only attended the elementary school for no more than 3 months, which is extremely short, so I didn’t have this situation repeat itself for too long. I haven’t spoken to anyone from the school since. Haven’t seen any of them and I don’t really want to anyway.