View Full Version : High School Robotics in Japan?

10-22-2008, 11:34 AM
Our school has recently signed a "sister school" agreement with a new Science and Technology based high school opening in Yokohama. We recently had some senior dignitaries from the school visit us for the signing ceremony and as the first stage of a process that will lead to student exchanges and other co-operative activities.

As part of the visit our robotics team was asked to give a presentation to our guests on FIRST and our team's activities. They appeared to be quite interested and there will likely be an opportunity to follow up the presentation with video conferencing and other activities.

Has anyone reading this had experience with the Japanese school system, particularly with regard to robotics competitions? I know FLL is present in Japan, but what about Japanese FTC and VEX teams? Are there/has there been a Japanese FRC team? Is anyone familiar with Japanese robotics competitions that high school students in Japan might currently be engaged in? (I'm only familiar with mini-sumo... our FRC team is actually just a mini-sumo robotics class project that got out of control...:) )

Background information of this nature would be helpful for the next time we talk to our friends in Japan.



10-22-2008, 12:42 PM
I'm jealous - they didn't do robotics when I was in Tokyo's school system. However, kindergarten + early 90's doesn't always equate to robots...

10-22-2008, 01:19 PM
I have had the opportunity to go and speak in a Japanese High School twice about Pre-college robotics, specifically FRC. (2001, 2008)

The contact I have had is in a private college prep school in Kyoto with a pretty strong robotics club. There seem to be a number of different competitions in Japanese schools. The one that they were working on when I was there last was a autonomous soccer type game.

The major problems with trying to integrate FRC is high school is a much more critical time in their student's careers.

They have to study very very hard to get the highest scores on their entrance exams in order to go to top colleges, top colleges lead to better jobs and so on. Once in college everything gets easier from there. On top of that entrance exams fall on the first week or two of FRC build (if I'm recalling right). During this time the schools pretty much completely shut down.

FTC and VEX would both be possible to integrate, but the "out of the box" type solutions might not be received as well as the do it yourself nature, or at least buy it yourself nature, of other competitions.

That just some quick thoughts...

10-22-2008, 02:34 PM
I had a chance with some other Hawaii teachers to visit a couple of Japan robotics schools last fall. One school we saw had a full CNC machine shop filled with a dream full of tools and equipment. It looked more like a college machine shop in a high school.
A few weeks later, team 2024 Waiakea participated in a microrobotics contest in which they came in first place.

Our school is very interested in participating in another super science fair next fall 2009 if we get accepted to share about FIRST Robotics.

We definitely want to mentor groups of Asian teams to participate in FRC also. :)
From what I've been told, South Korea has a lot of wealthy schools that could definitely afford to participate in FIRST. I saw many pictures firsthand of these schools, and let me tell you, it was mightily impressive. These were specifically foreign schools that get lots of corporation sponsorship for obvious reasons. The corporate leaders overseas want the best educational facilities/programs for their kids.

10-22-2008, 03:03 PM
Um, I haven't had any direct contact or experience with the Japanese. I know that the Chinese swept the VEX Competition last year, but I haven't heard much about Japan.

Have you checked the FIRST site?

10-22-2008, 03:05 PM
For high school I would try Robo One 10. Although these are humaniod robots, there may be some interest http://www.botmag.com/articles/robo_one_ten.shtml


10-22-2008, 09:26 PM
A few years ago, I spent some time in Japan (Kyoto, Tokyo, and Hiroshima) and did some talking about FIRST and showed some videos of the robotic competitions. If I'm remembering correctly, their were some students (and I was mostly with college students at the time) that had seen something like this before while others had never seen anything like it. No one had ever heard of FIRST and too my knowledge there have never been any FIRST FRC teams in Japan (I did some looking while I was over there to answer questions). I can probably send out an email though and ask my friend who recognized the robotics what the competition is called that he knew about.

As for the culture, as Rachel mentioned above, there's a big problem in Japan of getting high school students interested due to the riggers of the examination to get into colleges and the amount of homework that they have at night. It is much easier for the middle school students to get involved in FTC because of the way the school is structured. I can see a couple of ways to bring FIRST into a school system, but it won't be easy I don't think.

If there is anything I can help with from any angle, PM me and let me know. I would love to help in any way I can. Japan is something I love, and if I can help to introduce it to FIRST (something else I love) then that would be just awesome.

Scott L.
10-22-2008, 10:02 PM
What language do you need to communicate in, I am learning Japanese(no formal classes, just Anime and dictionaries) :D

10-22-2008, 10:06 PM
What language do you need to communicate in, I am learning Japanese(no formal classes, just Anime and dictionaries) :D

C++, and possibly LabView.

10-23-2008, 07:42 AM
Jason, you have an opportunity here! It's quite possible that someone in your sister school is acquainted with FLL. Now you can lead them to the next step.

Team 1188 became involved with FLL teams in South Africa about 4 or 5 years ago, through one of our mentors who does FLL. That blossomed into a full-fledged cooperation effort. The South African team members focused on the website and animation. Team 1025 continued the cooperation, and this year the students in South Africa built a robot (after the season was done) that could play Overdrive. We sent them some old parts, and they picked up other things on their own. It's still not to the point where they can compete as a separate team, that's incredibly expensive outside North America, but things continue on.

10-23-2008, 09:52 AM
What language do you need to communicate in, I am learning Japanese(no formal classes, just Anime and dictionaries) :D

Most Japanese people know some english. Though it seems like the more they are in big cities the more they know and are willing to use it. Maybe it just has to do with confidence, maybe it has to deal with there is more of an oppertunity to use it in the larger cities. Maybe it is a combination of the two.

So to answer your question. They can talk in English mainly though there may be a need to explain a lot more than if they were to talk in Japanese.