A Juku Childhood: Children’s experiences in Juku attendance and its relation to their well-being in Japan

  • Mizuho Ozaki

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Many children and young people in urban Japan attend Juku, a private tuition in after-school hours. Juku supplements school education or prepares students for entrance examinations. This research looks at the role of Juku in children’s lives, how children perceive their well-being, and association of these two from the child-centred perspective. The motives of this research are three-folds. Firstly, Japanese childhood seems to be problematised with a concern about their low level of well-being, for which Juku is often raised as one of the influencing factors. Despite Juku being significant for Japanese children, it has been treated with laissez-faire approach from fields of both policy and research. Finally, children’s voices still appear to be missing in public discourse. For these, it was evident that there is a need to fill the distinctive lack of knowledge. To explore the topic of interest, qualitative interviews were conducted in urban Japan with girls aged 10 to 18. Other research tools such as timeline, time-use and eco-map sheets are used to perform child-centred research. These tools appeared useful also because this research considered time and space aspects in childhood. Three key findings are suggested by highlighting the relationality of Japanese society. Firstly, Juku experience is not necessarily negative for participant children. In fact, children feel the need of attending Juku, because school pedagogy appears to be unfavourable for them. Regarding child well-being, it became evident that maintaining Ibasho, a physical, emotional and relational space, is essential. Given the significance of relationship, these findings are discussed with application of rhizome theory suggested by Deleuze and Guattari (1987). Following these, this thesis suggests that current child well-being discourse is deeply embedded in Western-middle class ideology, and it appeared unsuitable when it is applied in Japanese context. Therefore, more diverse cultural-understanding is required when exploring children’s well-being.
Date of Award30 Jun 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorTess Ridge (Supervisor) & Susan Harkness (Supervisor)

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