Learncation: The New Japanese Holiday Paradigm for Schoolchildren
Studying on vacation? Learn how one prefecture in Japan is giving kids more time with their parents — but only if they keep hitting the books.
By Himari Semans
“Okay everyone, be quiet. I’m going to take attendance now, okay?”
A male schoolteacher begins to call on each student. Or rather, each cardboard cutout of students.
This is a broadcast news segment from Asahi TV that aired this week. The teacher is anchor Kogi Ippei (小木逸平). The camera’s panned out to the back of the makeshift classroom, and we see two rows of five desks.
All but one is occupied by crude paper children facing Mr. Kogi. Hiring child actors was perhaps beyond the major TV corporation’s budget.
Mr. Kogi calls on Kensuke, who is the missing student.
“Ah, that’s right. Kensuke is absent today because of learncation.”
Mr. Kogi breaks character and seamlessly switches into reporter mode.
This whole skit was Kogi’s segue into a news story about learncation (ラーケーション), a new word combining “learning” and “vacation” that represents Aichi Prefecture’s new system that allows public school students from elementary to high school three days of absence a year to spend quality time with their families.
53/54 districts want learncation
On September 4th, Aichi Prefecture announced that 53 out of 54 districts will adopt learncation by January next year. Ichinomiya City and Inuyama City have already introduced learncation as of September 1st.
Learncation aims to encourage families to spend more time together by allowing schoolchildren to take days off according to their parents’ schedules.
Students will not be marked as absent as long as they apply for learncation via email or phone call to their school.