How’s the schooling in Japan?

Japan has a large selection of International Schools, not only in the large cities like Tokyo, Osaka or Nagoya, but also in smaller centers like Yokohama, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Sapporo, etc, Most of these schools provide a high caliber educational experience from kinder garden through high school, though particular academic curricula or instruction in languages other than English may not be available.

Tokyo, in particular has a wide selection of schools for the international student. The attached list gives a good idea of the number and variety. There are large and small international schools, old established schools and young upstarts, centrally located or suburban, expensive ones and those less so, schools with IB programs, with supplementary ESL programs for non-English speaking international students, and instruction in other languages – for example French and German schools – are also available.

Many international schools have their own buses to pick up their students particularly from the central areas of the city where many expatriates tend to live. For others it will be necessary to plan in advance where to live so that the children can access public transportation more easily for them to get to school, or to be within walking or bicycling distance.

Some of the better known schools can be full in certain grade levels so it is always wise to plan ahead, and also to be flexible. Also some schools have high standards in both academic and linguistic skills (and do not offer ESL programs) and may not accept all applicants.

Public schools can also be an option in Tokyo, not only for the expatriate parent who doesn’t mind having their child in an all Japanese environment, but some wards in Tokyo also have special programs in certain schools in English for the international student. While public schools are available to anyone there are certain residence requirements that may have to be met. Each regular school has specific requirements of where one must live in order to attend that school. The public international programs are also only available in some wards, and they may not accept students from outside the ward. Of course, public schools are largely free, except for lunch and such sundry expenses.

Regardless of the type of school it is probably worth pointing out that Japan has arguably one of the highest literacy rates in the world and can provide an excellent educational experience.