Alternative ed DEMOCRATIC / SUDBURY schools: Shonan Sudbury Valley School (Shonan, Kanagawa); Summerhill International School (Minato-ku, Tokyo); Democratic School Sora (Hishinomiya-shi, Hyogo pref.); Tokyo Sudbury School

A new SHONAN SUDBURY VALLEY SCHOOL in Kanagawa prefecture, has been established. Website: (Japanese language only, but English-speakers are welcome to contact them)
The school is based on unique educational philosophies, methods etc., originally created by Sudbury Valley School, Framingham, MA ( , a place where people decide for themselves how to spend their days, is opening in Shonan, Kanagawa-prefecture.

This is the second Sudbury Valley school, the first in Japan was:

2-15 Hirota Cho

NishinomiyaHyogo Prefecture 662-0837


Established in 2004 in Nishinomiya Shi (city), Hyogo Ken (prefecture), it is a 21st century model school for children aged between 4-19 yo. There are no tests, no timetables, and the children are involved in the management of the school.

DEMOCRATIC SCHOOL MAKKURO-KUROSUKE | デモクラティックスクールまっくろくろすけ (兵庫県神崎郡)

Location: 592 Sakado Ichikawa-cho Kanzaki-gun Hyogo JAPAN

Phone / Fax: 0790-26-1129 | Email:


Makkuro-Kurosuke is a Democratic School that has adopted the same educational policy as that of Sudbury Valley School (MA, U.S.A).

Japanese regular schools try to control students and to put a lot of information into their heads in a short time. Some parents do not like this system and some children have a hard time fitting into this system. This school is available for the families who have that problem but also want their children to make Japanese friends and experience Japanese culture. For the Japanese non-native speaking children it would be hard to just sit at the desks all day long and try to learn Japanese.  The best and easiest way for them to learn Japanese would be to play with Japanese children and pick up the language by doing a lot of things with them. School is in a quiet area surrounded by rice fields.  A relaxing homey atmosphere. School caters for children aged 5-18yo.  The school, an N.G.O., does not use the Japanese national curriculum, but has its own.


〒 648−0035  和歌山県橋本市彦谷51 Tel: 0736-33-3370  Fax: 0736-33-3043    

Billed as “Japan’s happiest school” and also as a “Freedom and Fun School“, excerpted from Kinokuni Children’s Village

Kinokuni is described as ” a tiny free school in the mountain area in Wakayama. Roughly two hundred boys and girls, from six to eighteen, are living happy lives in the school. Three-quarters of them are boarders, because they come from all over Japan. The school puts strong stress on child initiative, individuality, and “learning by doing”. Due to its unique policies like mixed-age classes and project-centred curriculum”

… read much more and the rest here


Okinawa Sudbury School is a Sudbury-model school located in Ginowan-city on the island of Okinawa in the south-west of Japan, in a residential house with a large garden. School opening is from nine until four, Monday through Friday. We take students aged 6-19 and operate as a democratic community via the School Meeting

SUMMERHILL INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (formerly JAC) (16 months to 5-and-a-half years)
2-13-8 Moto-Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0046
Phone: 03-3453-0811, Fax: 03-3453-0820

Summerhill offers an all-rounded, actively bilingual and cultural enrichment program involving a wide range of activities that enable children to experience Japanese culture to its fullest. Daily Japanese classes are part of the curriculum and we celebrate Japanese holidays and hold cultural events. The curriculum also builds off the child’s knowledge and skill base, learning style, and interests. There is a clear emphasis on the development of strong language and math skills. The school creates a language-rich environment to encourage literacy development from the youngest age by incorporating reading and writing into daily activities. The school program also offers a strong emphasis on the natural environment, and seeks to make science come alive and encourages children to experiment, observe, record, describe, question, and form explanations and conclusions. It stimulates a child’s sense of wonder and challenges a child’s problem-solving skills, allowing him/her to explore and communicate the mysteries of the forces, properties, and principles of the world around him/her.

Also newly established is the TOKYO SUDBURY SCHOOL, see this page for more info.

Listing of Democratic schools from Wikipedia.


What is a Sudbury School? (Source: Okinawa Sudbury School)

A Sudbury school is a school modelled on the Sudbury Valley School in Massachusetts, USA. It is a democratically-run community of students and staff where there is no set curriculum nor any structured teaching beyond that which the students request. Instead, the students are free to spend each day as they choose, which in practice means a great deal of free play that gradually becomes more structured as the students move into their teenage years. Thus, rather than learning from a prescribed curriculum, the students learn as a by-product of their daily activities. The experience of Sudbury Valley School and similar learning environments shows that this provides a sufficiently wide variety of experience and learning to enable a person to take a meaningful and rewarding place in adult society.

The Sudbury Philosophy

The key points of the Sudbury philosophy are:

1. Trusting children to take control of their own lives – we believe that children are capable of making their own intelligent and informed decisions, and thus do not need to be coerced or controlled.

2. Democratic rule – all aspects of the internal running of the school are decided by the School Meeting, in which each member has one vote.

3. No prescribed curriculum and no testing – we believe that children learn best through their own curiosity and natural learning instincts, and we trust children to assess themselves and their own learning.

4. Free age mixing – we believe that children learn not just from their same-age peers or adults but also from children older and younger than themselves. From this they also learn tolerance and respect for differences, both in others and in themselves.

5. Freedom and responsibility – children learn to take responsibility for themselves and their actions through learning to respect the freedom of others.

For updates on Democratic schools in Japan, go to‘s index page.


Read also Libertarian Education: Real Education – varieties of freedom by David Gribble which mention the founding of the three Shures of Japan, among other democratic model schools.

Nagata, Yoshiyuki’s Alternative Education: Global Perspectives Relevant to the Asia-Pacific Region



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