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Japan – The Japanese Education System

The Japanese education system consists of 1-3 years of kindergarten (yochien), 6 years of elementary school, 3 years of junior high school, 3 years of high school and either 2 years of junior college or 4 years of university.

Japan has both private and public schools and universities, and the language of most of these schools and universities is Japanese. 

Most elementary and junior high schools in Japan are public, while most kindergartens, colleges and universities are private.

The school year begins in April and ends in March of the following year.  It is divided into three terms – April to July, September to December, January to March, with holidays between the terms.

Japanese public kindergartens, elementary and junior high schools are accessible for almost no cost to any resident of the school district. A few schools offer classes for returnee children with special attention in terms of Japanese language skills, readjustment to life in Japan, etc.

There are many excellent international schools, most of which operate an English program, though there are a variety of other schools operating in French, German, Korean, etc.

Almost all the international schools run from September to June, and some of the preschool or kindergartens offer a summer school program in June and July.

It is important to understand the characteristics and style of education before you choose a school. Some of the schools offer school buses. The more popular international schools always have many applicants who often may be put on a waiting list. It is therefore best to submit an application as early as possible.

Currently there are over 100 international schools in Tokyo, ranging from pre-school (ages 15 months to 5 years) to high school (up to grade 12) . International pre-schools continue to grow in number and popularity to meet the increased demand by expatriate families as well as Japanese families who want their children to go through the international school system.