In the U.S., summer break lasts for more than two months, but in Japan, schools start their summer break in the middle of July and go back to school near the end of August or early September.
The difference is not only in the length of summer break though! Most schools give their students a lot of homework before they start school again. As one can imagine, well-organized students finish their homework early, but some (if not many) wait until very last minute and spend their last days of summer break working on their homework. Local and national TV news usually cover the efforts of those students (and parents in many cases) to finish.
Did you know that in Japan the school year starts in April? Summer break is simply a break between semesters. When kids return to school in August/September it’s the beginning of their second semester within the same school year.
Just like in the U.S, summer break in Japan is used for traveling, but one- or two-week vacations are not as common in the Japanese workplace. Therefore, family travel during summer break doesn’t increase as much as it does in the U.S. Instead, families spend more time going out to eat in their local cities and neighborhoods. More of the family budget is allocated to eating out while kids are home for summer vacation. Of course, the other reason dining out is popular is that parents are tired of preparing meals every day.
Nonetheless, summer break provides an opportunity for parents to spend time with their children, especially those parents who work on weekends, just like many in the U.S.