Get in the Study Habit, Top Tips From Japan

Japan’s High School exams are notoriously tough. It’s no suprise then that Japanese students want to give themselves every advantage when it comes to tests. Level-up your study habits with our top tips from Japan.

Brown RiceGet GABA!

No, we don’t mean chatty (or a really disturbing kids’ show). GABA is an amino acid found naturally in many foods. It’s used by the body as a neurotransmitter and as such, hardcore studiers in Japan like to up the amount of GABA foods they eat to up their memory powers! GABA is often added to foods in Japan, with everything from chocolate to salad dressing trying to attract hungry studiers.

So how can you up your GABA? One easy way is sprouted brown rice. For sciency reasons when the brown rice is left to sprout, the amount of GABA contained in it increases. In fact, some people call this rice GABA rice. To make sprouted brown rice you need to keep brown rice in warm water for several days. If you’ve got a rice cooker it may have a GABA or yoghurt setting you can use to do this. If you live somewhere warm this may take much less time, so be careful! Otherwise you may end up with ricey proto-booze. Alternatively, you can get your GABA from Japan Centre!

The Secret of the CraneJapanese Crane

To understand this one, we’re going to have to learn a little bit about Japanese folklore (no, really). Movement while studying or learning has been of interest to pedagogical scholars across the world for a few decades now. Anyone who’s studied linguistics or taught English as a foreign language might have come across exercises where students have to do a specific movement when they say a word to help them learn. This method is similar:

  • Read your text book. While the information is still in your mind, close the book.
  • Immediately say aloud what you remember and write down notes.
  • Repeat!

By using the four skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking you get the brain firing on all cylinders and hopefully on the route to exam success! So why the crane thing? Well, in the folk tale Tsuru no Ongaeshi, a crane repays an elderly couple for their kindness by weaving beautiful cloth. But she must weave in secret, for if they ever find out she’s really a crane (and not a human), she’ll have to return to the skies. So like the tale, while the end product of your studying may be beautiful, you’ll not want anyone to watch you doing it with this method!

Hana MaruGive Yourself Encouragement

It’s important to stay motivated when you’re studying. Ideally studying should feel fun all the time, that way you stay focused too. However, if studying was easy we wouldn’t have to do it, we’d already remember it all! So sometimes we all need a little push. So when you successfully remember something or get a question right, give yourself a nice big hanamaru!

In Japan correct answers in school are marked with a circle and incorrect ones with a cross or tick. (Yes, this does get confusing for UK students!) A variation on this is a flower circle or hanamaru. The bigger, the more squiggly, the more extreme the hanamaru gets the better you did! So go on, reward yourself!

Give yourself some study fuel with great snacks, practice your Japanese reading magazines or books, or motivate yourself with fun treats (novelty erasers always work!).

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Thanks to Toshihiro Gamo at Flickr for the image of the crane