Japanese teenagers are as diverse in personality and lifestyle as are American teenagers, but as with all cultural groups, there are some trends they have in common with each other. Japanese teenagers spend almost all of their time in school or in structured extra-curricular settings when they’re not at home studying. But when they do have free time on the weekends, they tend to hang out in groups of other teenagers, often shopping for the latest fashions.
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Japanese teens can be very social, often hanging out in groups when they have free time. Joanna Boyle and other researchers from Tulane University found that shopping is a popular activity among middle- to upper-class teenagers in Japan, who have money at their disposal. Most of the time, Japanese teenagers spend time hanging out with each other during structured time at school or in extra-curricular activities since this is where high-school students spend most of their time. Parents and teachers in Japan tend to discourage teens from dating, which means that many young adults don’t start dating until after high school. Perhaps due to structured environments, there is also a much lower rate of drug use among adolescents in Japan than what is present in the U.S. teen demographic.
According to researchers at Columbia University, most Japanese families today are nuclear, including two married heterosexual parents and their children. But unlike many American families, Japanese families include multiple generations who often live together in one home. Japanese fathers tend to work long hours, leaving mothers in charge of childcare and household work. Many Japanese children and teenagers report never eating dinner with their fathers during weekdays. A teenager’s job in the family is primarily to behave well and succeed in school.
Parents in Japan have high standards for academic success for their children. It’s very important for children to do well in school; therefore, the Japanese education system shapes much of the fabric of Japanese society, especially for children and teens. Additionally, Japanese students attend specialized high schools based on their test scores. Unlike many American teenagers, most Japanese teenagers take public transportation, walk or bike to school instead of driving. Japanese high schools have distinct uniforms and require students to adhere to strict rules of behavioral conduct both in and outside of school. Japanese students spend an estimated 240 days a year at school -- 60 days more than their American counterparts. This does not include daily club activities, after-school studying and daily time spent doing homework.
In Japan’s modern materialistic society, teen trends catch on fast. Some traditional garments, such as the yukata, a light and casual summer kimono, are still worn by young women and are starting to come out in more modern prints. But when teenagers are not wearing school uniforms, they are often wearing some of the same styles as American teenagers, such as long maxi skirts or shorts and leg wear. Teenagers in Japan are also interested in cute fashion accessories, and cat-themed clothing is all the rage right now. Japanese teenagers are renowned for starting fashion trends around the world, so look to Japan to find out what the next big fad will be.