Math teacher 1: Look at this thing! It has color pictures inside! And just look at all the practice problems...
Me: You know, American high school students use about six of these, one for each subject.
Math teacher 1: Six!? You know, I heard from the exchange student that American high school students take six different math classes (pre-algebra, Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, pre-calculus, calculus). Is that true?
Me: The ones who go to college generally do.
[Note: Japanese high schools don't place individual students into classes based on ability or preparedness. The entire homeroom takes the same class. Students may, however, be sorted into homeroom based on ability or future plans.]
English teacher: If you get a book like this, you should treasure it the rest of your life. ...It would be hard to carry home every day to do homework, though.
Me: ...Well...some people have cars, so at least they don't have to walk all the way home carrying the textbooks.
Math teacher 2: Wow... Do they really cover all this in one year?
Another interesting thing I learned is that students are allowed up to 1/3 of their days absent before they're in danger of failing. That means a student could miss three entire months of school and still pass. I was astounded. They REALLY don't like failing students.
Here's a picture of equivalent pages on the inside of the two textbooks. As you can see, the American version uses a lot more color, including full-color photographs, whereas the Japanese one is plain with only two-color graphs.