Land of the rising gap year

According to the Daily Yomiuri, the University of Tokyo is debating a shift of enrolment from spring to autumn to make space for six-month gaps between school and university.

University President, Junichi Hamada, is quoted as saying: "We want our students to enter the university after they learn the social value of study and become aware of various issues, not just come to college as a continuation of their entrance exam preparations."

A third year economics student, Hiroki Yoshizawa, tells how trips involving work experience in rural Japan and volunteering in Cambodia, gave him a greater appetite to learn. "I came to see a link with the world, and the school’s lectures became more interesting," he said.

Earlier this year, the Japanese Business Federation backed gap years as a way to improve job applicants’ understanding of the world of work. According to the Federation, gap years help build an outward-looking approach and better communications skills.

Gap years are still relatively rare in Japan but growing fast, with numbers thought to the have trebled since 2008.

Want to learn more about Japan? Read Amber Mezbourian's country guide.