The senpai-kohai system is unique in Japan. Japanese value superiority and rank and the language and vocabulary changes depending on which person of rank you are speaking to. (This is why Japanese love business cards. It lets them know immediately what rank the other person is so they can adjust their language accordingly. It is also the reason why one of the first questions one asks a foreigner is their age.) Unfortunately the ranking system can get out of hand in the adolescent years and it can escalate into never ending hazing, much like when joining a fraternity or sorority.
I hope you enjoy Tetsuhiro's observations of jr. high school life.
In Japan, there is the senpai-kohai system. "Senpai" means senior or older person and "kohai" means junior or younger person.
Right now I am a first year student in jr. high school, and my senpai are the second and third year students. Next year when I am a second year student I will have third year senpai and first year kohai.
Even in companies, anyone who has worked longer than you is your senpai. The senpai teach the kohai the ropes of company life. In school, the senpai will teach the kohai about techniques or skills in the school clubs. Senpai are important for making a group of students into a team. I like the senpai at my school because they are kind and interesting. My school has very good senpai. I'm lucky.
BUT... In some jr. high schools the senpai are very mean. The school may not have a rule about something but the senpai will make "rules". For example, most jr. high students spend all day in the gym clothes. The gym clothes have a zipper in front. In school the first year students are only allowed (by senpai rules) to zip their shirt up to the collar. But second year and third year students can zip all the way up or leave their gym clothes loose. If a first year student wears his gym clothes another way, he will get scolded by the senpai or bullied.
Another example is socks. The senpai say that first year students are only allowed to wear white socks that go to the calf. Only if you are a second year or third year student can you wear socks other than white, or socks that have designs, or ankle socks. If you get on the bad side of a senpai you will be bullied until the senpai graduates. And the senpai are very good at not letting the teachers know about the bullying.
I'm glad I go to my jr. high school and don't have problems with senpai. Next year I will be a second year student and I want to be a kind and friendly senpai.
Tetsuhiro in his gym clothes... Zipper hanging loose.