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[YRP Students' Essays] Summer Holiday!

How did you spend this summer holiday? What did you do and where did you go? I researched what Japanese families do for their summer vacations and I'll report some of their actual conditions, problems and memories.

Firstly, Japanese vacations do not last as long as other countries, and usually office workers do not have any holidays except for the short New Year holiday. In summer, they only have about a week off. On average, Germans and English take holidays in resort spots for about 20 days and French lodge 14 days a year during their vacations. However, the average for Japanese is only 3.5 days. Indeed, when I was in Paraguay, I traveled in several countries every year but since I came back to Japan, I have never visited any sightseeing spots with my family.

From 2002, we students have taken a five-day week and we don't have to go to school on Saturdays, however if we increase holidays more than what we have now, I'm afraid that the degradation of students' achievement, which is in the air recently, would get worse and worse. For example, the circular constant isn't 3! So, for Japanese future, I think the present lengths of vacations are appropriate for us. Nowadays many foreign countries point out the shortness of Japanese holidays, so the government tries to expand batch of holidays and paid holidays but most fathers don't take them. In western countries people have long vacations at summer houses or somewhere far away, and they think that taking a vacation makes their lives more meaningful. Nevertheless there is hesitation in the Japanese workers' mind. As long as their superiors keep working they refrain from rest. Besides, until now, we haven't had a sense of vacation the way Westerners do, so we don't know how to manage such a long vacation time. Poor busy bees!!

While fathers work hard, the number of people who go to the other countries with friends or by themselves increases every year. Last summer 3,230,000 Japanese went abroad. Now, a broad smile suffuses travel agents because of the Olympic Games effect and the recent appeal of Korea. With the increasing numbers of tourists, crimes also take place naturally and 13,000,000 crimes struck Japan in the same season last year. Foreign people seem to think that Japanese are rich. Surely though we cannot travel without money.

Although we don't go abroad we go on inland trips, for example to hot springs, mountain climbing, sea bathing and returning to our home country. Because of this there are many accidents and disasters. Every day, I hear sad news on TV such as car accidents, drowning when kids were playing in the water... Last July and August, more than ninety thousand casualties were sustained in rivers, the sea and swimming pools.

Here is a pitiable but funny story that that reminds me of. Summer vacation is a kind of crucial stage for Japanese candidates for entrance to university, so 131 students and their teachers at a famous preparatory school went to Biwako Grand Hotel to study for the summer session, "putting on a spurt". But on 29th July, everybody came down with food poisoning, and all of them ended up in hospital. What did they go there for? Food spoils quickly, especially in summer, so we should be careful of preservation and our choices of perishable uncooked food!

Here is another true story. A boy went on a school trip in summer where they stayed at a certain Japanese-style hotel. That night he peeked into the women's bathing area. I think that he could not endure his boy's nature. However, there was only one girl in the bath, and to top it all off, she was the ugliest girl in his class. He was about to cry. This small lewd boy's endeavor was in vain. Hey boy, God watches us!

When my parents were children, my father went out to catch beetles, butterflies, Japanese killifish and crayfish, etc., at rice paddies and in a neighboring grove of trees. When my mother was a child she went swimming in a river almost every day. They were playing in nature and there was enough green around them to be able to do so. However, I feel that children in recent days don't play like this as much. A certain survey shows that most elementary school children play video games or go net-surfing during their holidays. In high school students' case, they said that they wanted to rest and sleep as long as possible. Increasing the number of cases of late students' fracture would be caused by such actuality. I know that there are few places to play in nature, besides many vicious offenders are on the prowl. In addition, TV and other mass media tend to say that we had better avoid going out in the daytime to protect our skin from the ultraviolet rays. For sure, I'm also scared of skin cancer but it is important to have memories of sweating, and running after something intently. It may become a good remembrance to tell our children.

Summer vacation is a very good occasion to make memories with family and friends. What a waste to spend time in your house, leading an inactive life... Father!

Child Research Net would like to thank the Doshisha International Junior/Senior High School and Miki Okubo, student and author, for permitting reproduction of this article on the CRN web site.
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