Japan’s Rural School

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Students in Aone’s elementary school during break in between the class on April 9, 2015. The school has only six students, two of whom are from the same family. Similarly small schools can be found throughout Japan. (Photo by Ko Sasaki/The Washington Post)

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A student at the elementary school plays soccer alone on April 9, 2015. Nearly half the public elementary and junior high schools in Japan are smaller than government guidelines call for. (Photo by Ko Sasaki/The Washington Post)

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The average age of Aone, population 638, is 62. For decades, people have been leaving rural areas for Tokyo. Almost one-third of Japan’s 127 million people live in the greater Tokyo area. (Photo by Ko Sasaki/The Washington Post)

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Aone’s elementary school has existed for 142 years. At its peak in 1945, its classrooms held 254 students. After the 1960s, a gradual but steady decline set in. (Photo by Ko Sasaki/The Washington Post)

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The Education Ministry in Tokyo suggests small schools should integrate with larger ones or cooperate with nearby schools by holding joint lessons. (Photo by Ko Sasaki/The Washington Post)

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Aone elementary school students during break in between the class. eachers worry that students at Aone’s small elementary school aren’t being exposed to a variety of ideas. (Photo by Ko Sasaki/The Washington Post)

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Aone’s elementary school has only three joint classes each year with a neighboring school. There are no computers in the classrooms. (Photo by Ko Sasaki/The Washington Post)

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Educational constraints at Aone’s elementary school means that teachers have to instruct students of different ages within a 45-minute time slot. (Photo by Ko Sasaki/The Washington Post)

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The school manages to have sports days, even though there aren’t enough players to form a complete soccer team. (Photo by Ko Sasaki/The Washington Post)

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Students at physical education at Aone elementary school gym on April 9, 2015. (Photo by Ko Sasaki/The Washington Post)

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Students and teachers during lunch time at Aone elementary school on April 9, 2015. (Photo by Ko Sasaki/The Washington Post)

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Lunch at the school one day included grilled fish, rice and soup with tofu, bamboo shoots and mountain asparagus. (Photo by Ko Sasaki/The Washington Post)

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General view of Aone. Aone has just two small general stores and one restaurant. (Photo by Ko Sasaki/The Washington Post)

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Six of six, Aone elementary school students, line up with in front of teacher before leaving school for potato field near by. (Photo by Ko Sasaki/The Washington Post)

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Students and teachers walk to a potato field, where the students planted seeds before returning along a forest path. (Photo by Ko Sasaki/The Washington Post)

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Six of Aone elementary school students at the potato field on April 9, 2015. (Photo by Ko Sasaki/The Washington Post)

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Aone elementary school students sketches Cherry tree out side of school during art class on April 9, 2015. (Photo by Ko Sasaki/The Washington Post)

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The students have art class outside. (Photo by Ko Sasaki/The Washington Post)

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Aone elementary school students sketches Cherry tree out side of school during art class on April 9, 2015. (Photo by Ko Sasaki/The Washington Post)

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