Casting new light on shadow education: snapshots of juku variety

Mawer, Kim

This paper takes a look at the juku [cram school] landscape of an area in the urban outskirts of Osaka. In Japan, juku represent a major part of out-ofschool supplementary education. As educational businesses outside the realm of formal schooling, they provide services aimed towards answering diverse educational needs. As a market, juku display large revenues, which shows their economic impact and considerable breadth of services. As has been discussed both in domestic and overseas studies, one of their main functions is to prepare students for entrance exams for the next higher level of education. However, the strong connection implied by existing research between juku and the entrance examination system has hindered a more detailed understanding of their roles in Japanese education. This paper presents research based on semi-structured interviews with representatives of six juku in Osaka. Providing insights into the strategies used to secure students, it will be shown how juku go beyond improving their students’ academic abilities by offering individualised services that have a strong element of “care” to them.