Why has dance become a required school subject in Japan?

2016.06.30

In the past, martial arts was a required subject in school.
However, from 2014, schools in Japan have made both martial arts and dance required subjects for all students.

Many parents probably wonder why the Japanese government has decided to make dance a required subject.

In this article, we will explain why dance is now required in Japanese schools.

What happens in a dance class?

Let’s start by explaining what children learn in a dance class.

Dance classes at school focus on a variety of dance styles and include interpretive dance, fork dance and modern dance.

Of the above dance styles, modern dance is a new approach. In the modern dance classes, children learn hip-hop dance and jazz dance.

Many parents are surprised by the choice of hip-hop dance but hip-hop dance is so popular that children’s dance programs are currently being shown on NHK educational TV.

Groups like Exile and AKB48, where hip-hop dance is a main part of the performance, are very popular among kids these days.

So for many children learning hip-hop dance at school is not at all out of the ordinary.

We often see shops in the major shopping malls selling dance clothing for kids nowadays.

How does dance foster children’s development?

When you hear the word dance you might think that it is just useless play.

However, it is actually a sport that requires a sense of rhythm and physical agility.

Through dance, children can gain the dexterity they gain from other sports. Also, even before dance become a required subject, many children were taking lessons outside of school.

As a result, learning dance in school is not strange in today’s society.

Communication skills are becoming more and more important in today’s global society.

Through dance, children learn how to express themselves and work with each other to create a dance piece.
Self-expression and cooperation with peers support the development of communication skills.


If children are asked to use these skills from when they are in elementary school and junior high school, it will encourage them to lose their fears of showing everyone who they are.

These are the reasons why dance was chosen to become a required subject in schools in Japan.

Who is responsible for teaching these dance classes?

Dance classes are currently being held as mandatory classes at elementary schools and junior high schools across the country.

One of the main issues schools are experiencing after starting dance classes is the lack of staff who can teach dance.

Some schools invite professional dancers to teach the classes. However, at the majority of schools the regular teachers are required to teach dance. Since the current staff have to teach dance even if they do not have experience, many teachers are attending dance schools in the spare time.

Being encouraged to go to dance classes on top of teaching the class and handling all the paperwork is tough.

Also, since some teacher’s dancing skills improve faster than others; some students will end up being taught by teachers who do not have strong dancing skills.

Adding dance as a mandatory subject may not be all benefits but it is not a failure either.

From a parent’s point of view adding dance as a mandatory subject may seem strange. However, for children in today’s society, learning modern dance is not so out of the ordinary.

We are still in the midst of a learning curve, but if children are able to become more expressive through dance then it is great.

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