Japanese school event "Ensoku"

ensoku image ensoku in the rain

Ensoku has some special features!

Ensoku is Japanese school event that schoolchildren go on an excursion for learning. Kindergarten children and primary school children often go to the park, mountain, museum, zoo or aquarium on foot. Schoolchildren in high grade decide where they go for off-school learning. They go there not only on foot but also by bus or train.

The word of "Ensoku" was used from 1820s in the end of Edo period according to the novel "Tokaidochu Hizakurige". Ensoku word meant taking long walks or going to a distance then. In 1870s, some schools called walking for other elementary schools for sports festival Ensoku. From 1880s to 1890s, it became school events for learning to go somewhere far away on foot.

The schoolchildren of Tokyo Shihan school did Ensoku as military training in 1886. Ministry of Education decided to do Ensoku as training for schoolchildren in 1900. Nowadays, Ensoku has various aspects, recreation like hiking or picnic, group training, appreciating nature and learning history and culture.

Ensoku formation

Schoolchildren prepare to do Ensoku based on itinerary called Shiori in Japanese. They often bring lunch box (bento), snacks, water bottle, picnic blanket, wet hand towel, rain gear and small trash bag by backpack on Ensoku.

There are some rules or restrictions on them in some schools. Parents make a lunch box, and some parents pack foods looks like some character, Disney, Snoopy, Pokemon and more. These are called chara-ben(character bento), but chara-ben is prohibited in some schools.

character bento(lunch)

The total amount of snacks is up to 200yen or 300yen (about 2 or 3dollars) in some schools. It is said that many Japanese kids learn the money sense through buying snacks for Ensoku. In addition, many schoolchildren enjoyed exchanging their snacks with friends until 2000s. That is prohibited because of food allergy now. The trash from lunch box and snacks must be taken home by small trash bag.

There are more rules or restrictions in some schools. A water bottle is not filled with juice but tea or sports drink. The design of picnic blanket is free, but its size is 90x60 size for one child use. A wet hand towel called Oshibori is very popular in Japan. However, the other goods in backpack are wet when they bring it. A Oshibori case is sold to prevent that for children. A rain gear is not umbrella but rain coat because umbrella gets irritating when students walk in single file.

rain gear of ensoku

Schoolchildren in high grade do off-school learning called Kogai-Gakushu in Japanese instead of Ensoku. They are divided into some group, and decide where they go through meeting. Most of them decide to go workplace of something or historical places.

They must examine the destination and its necessity and features before they go, and make presentations after they go. They go off-school learning with lunch box, but they do not bring snacks because off-school learning is one of the lessons.

off-school learning

Common destinations of off-school learning are factory, dam, purification plant, waste disposal site, museum, historic sites. Especially, a food factory is very popular since visitors can get a sample. The factory of Calpis and Kirin present original cup and juice or soft drink for visitors. An Automotive factory is also very popular. The factory of TOYOTA Motor, HONDA MOTOR, Nissan Motors has a special counter to receive reservation of tour for students. These factories also present miniature of cars for visitors.

On the other hand, the number of destinations of Ensoku is limited because schoolchildren go there on foot. Schoolchildren of some schools go the same place every year, and go the same place despite their schools are different. Komago in Saitama prefecture is the very popular destination of Ensoku since over 100 groups of schools visit there. Komago is named that the sanctuary of Ensoku in 2017.


When you travel Japan, it might to be a good idea to go there. You can feel Japanese Ensoku there.