Classroom Japanese: Ensoku vs Shuugaku Ryokou

遠足(えんそく/ensoku) Field trip. Excursion.
修学旅行 (しゅうがくりょこう/shuugaku ryokou)  Field trip. School Trip.

Did you know there’s actually more than one kind of field trip? Here’s the skinny: If the kids are going to stay somewhere together overnight, then it’s a shuugaku ryoko or a school trip. Sixth graders do this a lot to go see famous historical sights. They pack bags, get assigned rooms, do a campfire, spend the weekend. Whole nine yards.

But, the little ones? They don’t stay overnight when they go places. They walk to the park and catch bugs. Or they walk to the fire station and try on helmits. Or the bus brings them to the one factory and they take the tour. So, you see, that’s not a School Trip. It’s an ensoku. An excursion. Totally different. At least I’m pretty sure. This is one of those things that’s so basic to people who grew up with it that they don’t even think to articulate it. Meanwhile, here in English-land, we call everything a field trip. Hm.

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