Readings on the Japanese Education System


Learning to Go to School in Japan: The Transition from Home to Preschool Life. By Lois Peak. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.

Learning to Become Part of the Group: The Japanese Child’s Transition to Preschool Life,” Journal of Japanese Studies 15, No. 1, Winter 1989, 93-123 By Lois Peak.

Becoming Japanese: The World of the Pre-School Child. By Joy Hendry. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986.

Elementary School

* Educating Andy Kodansha International, New York, 1996, 232pp, $12 (paperback) Ann and Andy Conduit. An account of the day-to-day experiences of an Australian boy in the Japanese Elementary School System. An easy read. Read excerpt at

Japanese Lessons: A Year in a Japanese School through the Eyes of an American Anthropologist and Her Children. By Gail Benjamin. New York: New York University Press, 1998. Benjamin, who had enrolled her two children in a Japanese public elementary school, offers her perspectives on the Japanese educational system. A book by an anthropologist, the book is a gentle introduction to the differences between two cultures’ educational systems. One of the points she makes in her book is that collectivism is encouraged as the typically large classes are broken up into smaller subgroups for discussion and problem-solving, and combined effort and teamwork are effectively rewarded. She observes how the Japanese learn as young children to value consensus and to emphasize the good of the whole over the good of the individual.

Educating Hearts and Minds: Reflections on Japanese Preschool and Elementary Education by Catherine C. Lewis.

From Indulgence to Internalization: Social Control in the Early School Years,” Journal of Japanese Studies, 15, No. 1, Winter 1989, 139-57 by Catherine C. Lewis.

Middle School

Learning to Be Adolescent: Growing Up in U.S. and Japanese Middle Schools. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2000 Gerald K Letendre.

A Case Study of Japanese Middle Schools- 1983-1998 by Nancy C. Whitman. University Press of America. The author is a Professor of Math so it’s not surprising that the book focuses on comparisons between the Japanese mathematics curriculum and methods of instruction and those of American schools. (Also by her is Learning from Japanese Middle School Math Teachers OOP)

High School

* Japan’s High Schools. By Thomas P. Rohlen. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983. Most cited book in research.

Intense Years: How Japanese Adolescents Balance School, Family, and Friends by Rebecca Erwin Fukuzawa and Gerald K. Letendre. New York City: Routledge Falmer, 2000.

Higher Education

** Japanese Higher Education As Myth by Brian McVeigh. Very critical and damning account of the failings of Japanese universities, their administrators, teachers and students and of the Monbusho. McVeigh documents the pretences and cover-up measures that are perpetuating what he considers to be the farce of a higher educational system, one that fails utterly in its role to educate. The book questions how a society that values education so highly, and one that is so advanced at that, can come to have tolerate institutions where no learning takes place. 2002 An East Gate Book

Higher Education in Japan: Its Takeoff and Crash by Michio Nagai. Sharpe, 1995. Jerry Dusenbury, trans. Tokyo: University of Tokyo

Japanese colleges and universities, 1989: a guide to institutions of higher education in Japan. Compiled and edited by the Association of International Education, Japan; in collaboration with the Association of National Universities, the Association of Public Universities and the Federation of Private Colleges and Universities Associations; supervised by Monbusho (the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. Tokyo, 1989. The expanded and updated third edition of a comprehensive guide to Japan’s world of higher education: 95 national, 36 local public, and 334 private four-year colleges and universities. Oriented towards students wishing to study in Japan.

The Structure of the Post Secondary Education System” by Kazuyuki Kitamura. Pages 20-25 in Yoshiya Abe (ed.),

The Present Status of Higher Education.” Kazuyuki Kitamura and Kuroha Ryoichi Non-University Sector Higher Education in Japan Yoshiya Abe (ed),. Pages 1-11 (Research Institute for Higher Education International Publication Series, No. 3.) Hiroshima: RIHE, Hiroshima University, 1989.

Non-University Sector Higher Education in Japan. (Research Institute for Higher Education International Publication Series, No. 3.) Hiroshima: RIHE, Hiroshima University, 1989.

Japanese Education System

*** Education in Contemporary Japan: Inequality and Diversity by Okano, Kaori and Tsuchiya, Motonori. 1999 Cambridge University Press

* The Japanese Education System by Nemoto, Yasuhiro. Universal Publishers, 1999. A comprehensive study that looks at the environments of the Japanese child from kindergarten, through the progressively more arduous and competitive environments of the elementary, middle and high schools, to the relative relaxation, even hedonism, of university life. Drawing on numerous surveys and on the author’s personal experience, it provides a wealth of information on teaching methodologies, discipline, class sizes, the school day, assessment and the national curriculum. It also examines the role of the central Ministry of Education and the local boards in administering education throughout the country, and outlines and assesses the government’s recent programs of educational reform. The behavior, attitudes and expectations of pupils and parents are discussed in detail, and placed within their political, social and historical context, revealing the complex cultural assumptions determining learning and socialization in Japan – The Publisher

*The Japanese Educational Challenge: A Commitment to Children by Merry White. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1987. This book describes what education is like today in Japan, and describes how the educational process could be improved in Japan. This is an excellent source for the research project, because it relies heavily on document research that the author has done in this subject of education in Japan.

The Japanese Education System: A Case Study, Summary and Analysis by Angela Wu. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, 1999.

Educational Thought and Ideology in Modern Japan by Teruhisa, Horio. (Ed. and trans., Steven Platzer.) Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1988.

Achieving Excellence, Efficiency, and Equity in Public Education: Lessons from Japan,” American Asian Review, 11, No. 3, Fall 1993, 91-33 by Peter Iadicola

ABC’s of Study in Japan 1991 Tokyo: Maruzen Planning Network, 1991. Oriented towards foreign exchange students pursuing their studies in Japan. Many info tables and charts related to education in Japan.

The Educational System in Japan: Case Study – Findings National Institute on Student Achievement, Curriculum, and Assessment… Washington D.C.: National Institute on Student Achievement, Curriculum, and Assessment, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Dept. of Education, 1998.

Society and Education in Japan (New York: Teachers College Press, 1967), 22. Kodansha America “Learning is the key to success in life … There shall, in the future, be no community with an illiterate family; nor a family with an illiterate person.” the preamble of 1872 Fundamental Code of Education. By Herbert Passin.

Japanese Education Today U.S. Department of Education, compiler. Washington, D.C.: Superintendent of Documents,U.S. G.P.O., 1987.

Japanese Schooling: Patterns of Socialization, Equality, and Political Control James J. Shields, University Park

Educational Achievement in Japan: Lessons for the West. By Richard Lynn. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 1988.

Windows on Japanese Education Edward Beauchamp (ed.). (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991).

Child Development and Education in Japan By Harold W., Stevenson, Azuma, Hiroshi and Hakuta, Kenji (eds.). New York: Freeman, 1986.

Educational Thought and Ideology in Modern Japan: State Authority and Intellectual Freedom By Teruhisa, Horio

The Japanese School: Lessons for Industrial America By Benjamin C. Duke. New York: Praeger, 1986.

Japanese Education Today by Robert Leestma, Robert August, Betty George, and Lois Peak. (United States Department of Education. Office of Educational Research and Improvement.) Washington: GPO, 1987.

Juku and the Performance of Japanese Students: An American Perspective by Dolly, John P. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Japan-United States Teacher Education Consortium, Tokyo, June 1992. ED 355 175

“Japan’s Cram Schools” by Larry Pettersen EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP 50, no. 5 (1993): 56-8. EJ 457 365

Institutionalized Supplementary Education in Japan: The Yobiko and Ronin Student Adaptations by Tsukada, Mamoru COMPARATIVE EDUCATION 24, no. 3 (1988): 285-303. EJ 386 063

Educational Reform

Japanese Education Reform: Nakasone’s Legacy by Christopher P. Hood, Christopher P. London; New York : Routledge, 2001.

Education Reform in Japan : A Case of Immobilist Politics by Leonard J. Schoppa, London: New York : Routledge, 1991.

Moving Mountains: Japanese Education Reform by Marie H. Roesgaard, Marie H. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 1998.

Kyoiku kaikaku itsukasei (The Five-Day School Week in the Educational Reform) by Hata, Hiromu

Yutori no jidai e (Toward an Era of Leisure). Tokyo: Nihon Hyoronsha, 1989. Pages 138-47 in Kanzen Shukyu Futatsukasei Doyobi o Shakai no Kyujitsu ni Suru Suishin Kaigi (Congress for the Promotion of Saturdays as Holidays and Full Two-Day Weekends) (ed.),

Gakko itsuka-sei to doyo jiyuhi no ma ni (Between the Five-Day School Week and Free Saturdays) by Hosaka Nobuto. Pages 126-36 in Kanzen Shukyu Futatsukasei Doyobi o Shakai no Kyujitsu Ni Suru Suishin Kaigi (Congress for the Promotion of Saturdays as Holidays and Full Two-Day Weekends) (ed.)

Koto kyoiku tokei de-tashu (Higher Education Statistical Data Collection). Motohisa, Kaneko (comp.). Hiroshima: Research Institute for Higher Education, Hiroshima University, 1989.

Decline and Reform of Education in Japan: A Comparative Perspective Kitamura, Kazuyuki.

Educational Policies in Crisis. (Pages 153-70 in Praeger Special Studies Series in Comparative Education) By Edward R. Beauchamp, Ichikawa Shogo, William K. Cummings, Victor N. Kobayashi, and Morikazi Ushiogi (eds.), New York: Praeger, 1986.

History of the Japanese educational system

Ten Great Educators of Modern Japan: A Japanese Perspective by Benjamin Duke, Edwin Reischauer. Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1989.

Education in Tokugawa Japan by Ronald Philip Dore, Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan, 1992.

Private Academies of Tokugawa Japan by Richard Rubinger. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982.

Japanese Education Since 1945 : A Documentary Study by Edward Beauchamp, and James M. Vardaman, Jr., editors,. Armonk, N.Y. : M.E. Sharpe, 1994.

Education and Modernization in Asia by Adams, Donald K.. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., 1970.

Education in Japan: A Century of Modern Development by Ronald S. Anderson, Washington: U.S. Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare, Office of Education: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1975.

Schooldays in Imperial Japan: A Study in the Culture of a Student Elite by Donald Roden. Berkeley: University of California

Japan’s Economic Growth and Educational Change, 1950-1970 by John C Thrush, and Philip R. Smith. (Lincoln: EBHA Press, 1980)

History of Japanese Education and Present Educational System by Hugh Llewellyn Keenleyside. Tokyo: Hokuseido Press, 1937.

Pre-Meiji Education in Japan: A Study of Japanese Education Previous to the Restoration of 1868. Lombard, Frank Alanson. Tokyo, Japan, Kyobunkan Methodist Pub. House, 1913.

Online Readings

Japanese Schools Basic Introduction to the School System, URL:

Japanese Education by Lucien Ellington, a nice succinct summary at URL: explores School System and School Life Aspects of the Japanese Education System, URL:

Cram Schools by, URL:

Steps Needed to Control Violent Schoolchildren an article (Sept 2005) noting the rise in violence from elementary school children, URL:

**Shuichi Fujimori’s succinct summary of the main problems with the Japanese education system in the web pages below:

What Causes Examination Wars? URL:

The Problems of Pyramid-shaped Ranking System, URL:

The Problems in the Education System, URL:

Educators Try to Tame Japan’s Blackboard’s Jungles, URLs: or if you are registered, then use this link

** “Education Reform in Japan: Goals and Results of the Recent Reform Campaign” by Leonard Schoppa, URL:

Below are short summaries on educational reforms:

Japanese Educational Reforms, URLs: and

Japanese University by, URL:

Japan’s Colleges Facing Meltdown, URL:

Daily Life in Japanese High Schools by Marcia & Jeffrey Johnson (includes a section on cram schools), National Clearinghouse for U.S.-Japan Studies Indiana U website, URL:

What is the Fate of Exam Hell (juken jigoku) in Japan? By Diana Lee URL:

Japan Research One educator praises kyoiku mamas and concludes the US could do well to adopt a state exam system similar to Japan’s though less pressured one, URL:

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