I came to Japan in 1991 and worked for five years as an English teacher before deciding to take a chance on that new thing called the Internet I’d been hearing so much about. During my time as a teacher I taught hundreds of students from age 3 to 83, but most were high school students. Compulsory education in Japan only goes through the end of junior high, and high schools function as a miniature version of the university system, with each school offering something different to attract students: a high academic level for university-bound students, sports and club activities, a focus on commercial trades like retail, accounting or agriculture, even extra-stylish school uniforms made by famous Tokyo designers. One thing that surprised me was the number of students who attended all-girl or all-boy schools, something that was quite outside my experience, being from California where these schools are rare. There are many reasons why single-gender schools exist, including to provide a solid education free from the distraction of the opposite sex (the top academic schools in our city are all single-gender), to provide a Christian-based education, or just to uphold the traditions of the past. Just because some schools are all girls- or boys-only doesn’t mean the students don’t date — that’s one of the reasons for events like the “culture festivals” you see in just about every anime series these days, so students from other school can visit, make friends and possibly find a girlfriend or boyfriend. While I’m sure life at an all-girls high school is nowhere near as yuri-tastic as Sakura Trick, one student confided to me that on hot days, students would flap their skirts to keep cool, not caring if the other female students see their pantsu.
Single-gender high schools are fairly common in Japan.