So, what makes me the expert on juku/supplementary education?
It’s now been over five years that I’ve been doing research on juku in Japan.
In the course of this period, I’ve visited over 45 juku. Most of these are located in Tokyo and its surrounding prefectures, but I’ve also visited about eight juku in the Kansai region (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe), four in Hiroshima city, and another four in rural Shimane Prefecture.
According to my contacts in the juku industry, that makes me the current world record holder in number of juku visited. When I began this research, I was not intending to set a record in this particular discipline.
When I mention that I’ve “visited” over 45 juku, what I mean by that is that I’ve been to the physical location of these juku and have interviewed the owner/operator/principal (塾長 – jukucho). In more than 40 of these juku I’ve also observed classes.
I have visited around ten of these juku more than once, having observed classes in one particular juku on five separate occasions by now.
The shortest visits to juku have lasted around two hours, while the longest begin mid-afternoon and end in a shared meal (or more often than not, beer) with the jukucho just in time to allow me to catch the last train/subway.
The vast majority of the juku that I’ve visited are owner-operated (by the jukucho) and could be categorized as small and medium enterprise (SME) juku with fewer than 10 employees and fewer than 200 students.
I have no strict scheme for selecting classes that I observe, though I enjoy math (算数・数学) and Japanese (国語) the most. As they are not generally entrance exam subjects, social studies (社会) and science (理科) are not taught as widely and I have thus observed fewer classes in these subjects. I generally try to avoid English classes.
Depending on the focus of the juku (in term depending in part on the location), I observe different ages of students. I have observed classes for preschoolers (4-year olds) and primary and secondary students of all ages.
I continue to select juku using a somewhat modified snowball sample.
There you go, that is the kind of data that I have collected that makes me an expert.