高校デビュー (koukou debyū) is a Japanese slang word that literally means “high school debut”, where 高校 (koukou) means “high school” and デビュー (debyū) is a loanword from “debut”. This term describes introverted people who try to change themselves dramatically and become social and extroverted when they get into high school. Some people successfully reinvent themselves and fly up the social ladder at school, while others fail to keep up the masquerade and fall back to the bottom of the social hierarchy.
Here are some examples of common behaviour when one “debuts” at high school (or university):
- start using contact lenses instead of wearing glasses
- dye their hair light to offset their gloomy vibe
- become (awkwardly) hyper to their new friends
- use hair wax or makeup
- disparage and shun nerds to show that they are not part of them anymore
Some people get carried away or behave quite awkwardly, in which case they’d end up being mocked by their classmates as a wannabe or poser.
Why “debut” at High School in Japan?
A plethora of Japanese people try to make a “debut” at high school. This is particularly because people usually part ways with their old schoolmates once they enter high school — before high school, most Japanese people attend the school closest to their home, and hence they’ve known their schoolmates very well for a long time since their childhood. Therefore, the timing when people high get into high school can be a great opportunitiy to get rid of their old self and start a new life/character. Some people who have missed the boat “debut” a later stage in life, e.g. at university or when they get a job, and those types of “debuts” are called “大学デビュー (daigaku debyū; university debut)” and “社会人デビュー (shakaijin debyū; businessman debut)”, respectively.
Another Meaning of “Debut” in Japanese
In Japanese, デビュー (debut) is used in various ways. For instance, it means “start or experience something for the first time” when it’s combined with another noun. Here are some examples of “something debut”
- コンタクトデビュー (contact lenses debut) = start using contact lenses
- 一眼レフデビュー (DSLR camera debut) = start using a DSLR camera
- スマホデビュー (smartphone debut) = start using smartphone
- 漫画喫茶デビュー (manga café debut) = go to a manga café for the first time
- 海外旅行デビュー (trip to a foreign country debut) = travel abroad for the first time
In addition, as in English, デビュー also means “(to make) a first appearance”, e.g. ‘あのバンドは去年デビューした’ meaning ‘The band debuted last year’,
Because I did a koukou debut (changed myself dramatically in high school), I never want to meet my friends back in junior high school.
It is my 黒歴史 (painful memory) that I dyed my hair pink for my “university debut”.