With Japan's economic bubble long since burst and job security fast becoming no more than a fond memory, there has been a surge in applications to private schools from primary grades up to college.

With parents fearing that the public education system will condemn their offspring to insecure, low-paid work, and competition for private-school places increasingly fierce, juku (cram schools) that help students prepare for entrance exams are experiencing a boom in business.

While in the West cram schools tend to be remedial, helping students pass exams that they failed, in Japan they are seen as a complement to regular schooling. With over 50,000 juku nationwide, cramming has become a ubiquitous part of the Japanese education system, and grown into a 10 trillion yen business.