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Education & Schools

Tokyo - Education & Schools


Tokyo has over 100 universities and colleges, accounting for about a quarter of Japan's total. The University of Tokyo, founded in 1877, is the nation's most prestigious. Other top-ranking schools located in Tokyo include the Japanese Christian Rikkyo University (or Saint Paul's University) (1883), the prestigious Waseda University (1882), and Keio University (1858).

While there is a good concentration of institutions for higher education, some expatriates find the range of options for English-language pre-school or kindergarten (yochien) surprisingly low. There is a good range of Japanese day-care facilities (hoikuein). Click for more overall information on Japan's education system.

Some public elementary, junior high or high schools accept expatriate children, but the language instruction is in Japanese.

There are several international schools available for expatriates who wish to have their children educated in their own native language and based on the American, British or International Baccalaureate education system. The language of instruction can be in English or some other international language such as German, French or Chinese. The status of international schools is constantly changing. Some schools close, while others start up each year. There is a good summary of international schools listed on this website. This website is also a useful forum for parents with school-going children, as it covers a range of activities and discusses topics such as bilingualism and baby-sitting services, although the website has not been updated since 2005. Home schooling is another option.

International school education in Tokyo is expensive. The waiting list can be long. The alternative would be to send your children to the local schools. There is no difference in cost for education in local schools between the Japanese and the foreigner. For a survey on the international school scene in Japan, click here. For more information, contact the Guidance Planning Section, Curriculum and Guidance Division, Office of Education, Tokyo Metropolitan Government at Tel: 03-5320-6836.

The school year in Japan starts in April and ends each year in March. There is usually three school terms in each year, with a vacation between the terms (40 days for summer and 2 weeks each for the winter and spring vacation). For Japanese nationals, there are 9 years of compulsory education: six in elementary school and three at junior high.

To be admitted into a high school or a university in Japan, applicants must take an entrance examination.


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