So once again in response to topics over at the NaNo message boards, I have some more stuff that might be of interest here. If nothing else, I get to talk more about my experiences in Japan.
So this first post are my answers in response to another user's questions, which is why some of the info may seem a little disjointed.
I was never a student in Japan, but I taught ESL there for about a year, so hopefully I can help answer some questions.
I only taught Monday through Friday, but there were a lot of other activities that took place on Saturdays. Like Sports Day and Culture Festival.
I worked from 8 am to 4 pm. During that time, there were six classes. I think the first was around 8:20 am. There was lunch. And at the end of the day, all the students had to help clean their classroom. Then most students had an extracurricular activity that started around 3. At my school, busses left at 3 then would come back to pick up kids after their activities and leave at 4.
Also, students don't change classes, but the teachers do. So the kids will always have the same classroom and same classmates for the year. And they eat lunch in their classroom.
Elementary school is six years, or US equivalent of grades 1 to 6. Junior high school is three years, or US grades 7 to 9. And high school is three years, or US grades 10 to 12. Each grade starts at 1 for each school. So a junior in America would be a year 2 high school student in Japan. Usually there are more than one classes per grade, so they are usually called 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, etc. depending on how many students there are in each grade. Also, this class number is posted outside the classroom.
Because Japan is very homogenous, non-Japanes people tend to stick out. A lot. I don't know how it is for a foreign student to go there, but as a foreigner in general it can take a lot to get used to, especially if you're used to someplace with a lot of diversity, Like the US.
Foreigners, or at least Americans, are expected to be very outgoing, be loud, and have very animated features while talking. So, as a foreigner, if you say, "Ohaiyo gozaimasu," you're expected to say it loud enough that the entire room can hear you, even if a Japanese person could just say it in a normal voice or even quietly.