One of the rites of passage for all Japanese is the school trip.
In elementary school, it is a supervised overnight - or several nights - to a prefectural facility where the children can learn or experience a theme they have been studying in class.
Examples include marine life, farming, the environment, etc.
Once in junior high school, the trip usually goes a bit farther afield. The most popular destinations are Kyoto, Tokyo, Hokkaido, and the southern islands of Okinawa.
Junior high students are taken to the destination - and then basically released to their own devices. They have a checklist of sites to see, tasks to complete - the most irritating task is an "interview" that their English teacher has assigned: it involves finding and interviewing a foreigner - but the chaperones are never with them. (Rumor has it the teachers sleep at the hotel while the kiddies are away, or are merely hungover.)
High school students are now just as likely to go abroad. Hawaii, Australia, South Korea, and China are popular. Still, many do the tried and true domestic routes.
On a recent visit to Kiyomizu Temple, we saw many many junior and high school students.
The primary purpose of the outing seemed to be 1) browse the junky shops on the road up to the World Heritage Site, 2) eat green tea ice cream, 3) take group photo, 4) make lots and lots of noise.
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