An Overview of International Schools and Internationally Oriented Local Schools

More and more international schools are being added to the educational market in Japan each year. These past few years have seen the largest increase since 1951. Most of the new schools are preschools and kindergartens.

In the past, there persisted a perception that attendance at international schools seldom led to a mastery of Japanese language proficiency and that international students lacked an understanding of the host country’s culture. Graduating from an international school could create a dead-end for graduates in Japan as the resulting diplomas often did not constitute eligibility for application to local colleges and universities. This is because diplomas from international schools did not have the same status as that from local Japanese high schools. Only a handful of international schools are accredited by the Japanese government and even graduation from these accredited institutions did not give automatic access to the higher education system in Japan. Special exemptions for certain select international schools are however given the Japanese Monbusho or MEXT(as it is now called).

The number of international schools offering a bilingual (or in some cases trilingual) education, has been on the rise in recent years. The observable trend is probably a response to that perceived deficiency of the old established international school system as well as an attempt to take advantage of the rising interest in bilingualism.

Interestingly, a parallel interest in bilingualism has been growing locally, as evidenced by the emergence of local so-called “international” schools or English language immersion schools that cater for a predominantly Japanese student population. In some instances, the level of dual language proficiency attained is so high that there are for all purposes no differences between the native bilingual school and the international school – with the great advantage of the former’s graduates having access to both international as well as local higher institutions of learning. Due to recent national educational reforms, more local schools have been trying to raise the level of English language learning in their schools, spurred on often by the need or desire to cater for the numbers of Returnees (students returning to Japan from countries overseas), or out of a goal of Internationalization. As a result, more and more local elementary schools across the country are offering English exposure classes at earlier and earlier grades and many schools such as specially designated SELHis (Super English Language High Schools) have increased the number of hours of English language instruction. A quick survey of local top-tier private secondary schools will show that the majority of such schools offer as many if not more hours of English language instruction compared with Japanese language instruction.


  • Local Private Schools or Public Schools that Offer Bilingual Immersion Programmes or that Have an International Orientation (for public schools, scroll down this page)
  • After School Language Support for English-speaking returnees or mainstream Japanese children or native English-speaking or bicultural children already enrolled in local schools but who require supplementary English language support (scroll down to see list at the bottom of the page)

Resident or “returning” Japanese, multicultural families, expatriate families with their newly transplanted kids in Japan face a number of variety of options regarding schooling:

International Kindergartens and International Grade Schools Expatriate families, dual nationality and short-term residents who see their future abroad generally opt for international schools that will best provide a transition to overseas schools. Traditionally, most international schools have focused on providing the kind of education that will best allow expatriate families to return to their home countries and continue schooling there with as little disruption as possible. Hence, traditional or conventional international schools have rarely produced educational programmes that allowed their students to achieve a high proficiency in both their mainstream school first language as well as in Japanese the language of their host country. This has been perceived as a weakness of international schooling, hence some expatriate families choose to place their children in local Japanese schools for the full Japanese language immersion experience while others choose a new breed of international schools or Japanese schools that are structured to offer a quality bilingual immersion education – to find out more about such schools, refer to this list. While other websites often make distinctions between “ethnic” international schools and English-medium international schools. There is no such distinction made on this website, with this consideration in mind: if you were a French, Korean, Indonesian or Chinese expatriate or other member of the international community looking at international schools in Japan, you wouldn’t want to be considered “ethnic” but would think of yourselves as “international” even though you might be looking for an “international” school that supported your native language.

The Local School Option

With recent school reforms that have put a new emphasis on internationalization and English education, the number of internationally-oriented local schools that are boosting their English language classes is increasing, so that local schools are becoming an increasingly popular choice for foreign residents or families with bicultural or returnee children, all of whom are seeking to achieve a high level of Japanese language proficiency in their children. Some families also look for after school support, English immersion classes and summer camps by various international schools for to keep up their English skills to a high level. The following categories reflect the various options available.

We do not mean to imply that the quality of the schools diminishes as it goes further down the rung. There are many examples of there are stellar local public or private schools or international schools that offer outstanding bilingual programmes. However, the general tendency is that as we descend down the ladder of options, the number of hours of English language instruction decreases, and the resources for English language learning (such as the number of English library books) also decreases.

Returnee-schools Where access to a school that offers quality bilingual education is not within reach for bicultural families for financial or distance reasons, bicultural or foreign students often opt for returnee-friendly local schools that openly welcome “returnees” or local students returning from abroad – for two reasons. One, such schools conduct either Japanese language remedial support classes or English language classes at a relatively higher level than the average local school. Two, many of the returnees having returned from abroad (and often possessing some level of exposure to the English language) tend to possess a more international viewpoint as well as a friendlier attitude towards foreigners. A very many private schools today openly seek and woo returnee students with the lure of “international courses”, immersion courses or prep courses for overseas colleges. A handful of public schools due to the increased numbers of foreign students seeking entry at those schools over the years have become more accommodating towards the needs of foreign students, scroll down this page for a list of these schools. Returnees also tend to look for SELHis(Super English Language High Schools) where the schools focus on superior English Language programs, and therefore the schools look to recruit returnee students and the returnee students tend to converge on such schools that often provide certain exemptions or preferential terms in their admissions requirements.

Local schools with an international orientation Again, there is no bias indicated here, many Japanese schools have excellent curriculum and reputations with the international community. In fact, more and more expats are viewing the advantages of bilingualism as a motivating factor for having their children totally immersed in Japanese culture and language by being in Japanese schools. Bicultural families often have narrower choices, either lacking expatriate pay packets that cover international schooling costs or because their bicultural children do not thrive well in local schools due to cultural differences, bullying or failure to keep up in their Japanese language studies – they need to look harder for schools that offer an international orientation or at alternative educational options. Many Japanese private schools (see the detailed listing at Private Schools in Japan Survey) have long been at the pioneering front of English instruction, having fine-tuned their curriculum to include many hours of English classes. Some local schools are specially designated as pilot schools for English language immersion or language programmes. For public schools that make it easier for foreign students from overseas to enter the schools and other public schools that have introduced English language immersion or instruction classes see the lists following this section.

After school support and others (Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the listing)

Public Elementary Schools that offer “Nihongo Gakkyu” (Japanese language class) or “Kokusai Gakkyu” (International Class):

HIGASHI ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, Higashigaoka, Meguro-ku

3-5 Nakayamate-dori, 2-chome, Chuo-ku, Kobe 650-0004.
Phone/fax: 078-331-3068.
A nursery for 2-3 year olds and Kindergarten for 4 -5 year olds for children of all races and nationalities. Instruction is in Japanese with weekly English classes.

KOUGAI ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, Nishi Azabu, Minato-ku (This school is known to be attended by many Western/ European children)


The following schools are four of the few municipal high schools which accept foreign students based only on either a Japanese or English composition and interview:

MATSUDO INTERNATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL (International Education Course)
NARITA INTERNATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL (English Course/ International Education Course)

For more information contact:

Public schools – Chiba Board of Education Phone: 043-223-4057

Public Schools that offer English Immersion or English Instruction Classes:



, in Takasaki, Gunma
Chuo Secondary School, run by Gunma Prefecture is the first prefectural secondary school with a six year curriculum for the students corresponding to other junior and senior high school students. The ultimate goal of Chuo Secondary School is to provide each student with a quality education that will enable him or her to become a world citizen and to make a valuable contribution to society. Students are encouraged to hold an international perspective, to understand his or her own culture and to have an ability to communicate freely with people all over the world. Language immersion classes are offered read about it here. The school’s immersion programme has been featured in the news.

, Chiyoda, Tokyo
A Tokyo metropolitan school that has a reputation for getting 75% of their graduates into universities of their first choice.

The school has English lessons three times a week for developing communication skills. We also have English Camps at Hawaii, England (Harrogate) and New Zealand. They are kinds of Intensive English lessons. Our students study very hard and enjoy learning English.

Nakakogawara-cho 222, Kofu, Yamanashi prefecture.
Phone: 055 241 3191
Located about 1 1/2 hours west of Tokyo by train, Kofu Minami High School is one of the top academic High Schools in the prefecture. The school has an English speaking Assistant Language Teacher and an English Club.

Phone: 047-386-0563 Fax: 047-386-0518 Email:
A public high school established by the prefectural government that is popular with students who are interested in learning foreign languages.

English classes are taught twice-weekly in all grades. On Fridays, the morning greetings are done in English and all students engage in English conversation and enjoy songs in English. The school says students have clearly benefited by starting from first grade, in particular developing good pronunciation.

10-1 Midorigaoka-machi, Nagasaki
See also these links: link in English; link in Japanese
The school has sixteen classes, with boys and girls. 520 students at Midorigaoka Junior High School. Midorigaoka has many club activities; a band and sports clubs including judo, kendo, soccer, baseball and swimming. The school holds English immersion classes read more here.

5-31-1 Nakamuraminami, Tsuchiura-shi, Ibaraki 300-0843
Phone: 029-841-5885 Fax: 029-842-1780 Email
A Japanese Kindergarten that conducts English immersion classes as well as an English club. English immersion begun in April. The school offers 2 and 3 preschool programs for boys and girls aged 3 – 6 years old. In the same grounds, Kids Club provides daycare services for kids aged 2.5 onwards. Since 1998, English was introduced into the program. All children now have an English class during most weeks of the school year, and many children learn English several times a week, in Nakamura Shirayuri English Club. In April 2004, an English immersion program was begun for 4 year olds with a native English-speaking homeroom teacher and all class activities are carried out in English.

The school has an exchange program with St Martin’s Episcopal School in Louisiana, US and a collaborative webpage.

3-16 Kanabe, Narita-city, Chiba 286-0036 Phone: 047-627-2610
Narita Kokusai High School has enhanced foreign language education in response to internationalization and actively welcomes Japanese students returning from abroad and foreign students. It teaches other subjects in English in order for students to be exposed to the language for a longer period of time. For example, teachers plan on having English-language musicals during music classes and conducting cooking lessons in English during home-economics classes. Students are placed according to their language ability levels. The school has a junior high as well as a high school curriculum.

1-5-2 Yokoami Sumida ward, Tokyo 130-0015
Phone/03-3625-0026 fax/03-3625-5856
See its curriculum at this link. The school has many international student exchanges.

533 Harada Kawachi, Nagano, Osaka. Phone: 0721-53-7371 Fax: 0721-53-7384.
This school was designated two years ago, one of the nation’s Super English Language High Schools (SELHis).


A public school run by Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, offers immersion education in some of their classes.

Showa-machi 3-7-27 Maebashi City, Gunma prefecture.
Phone: 027-231-8117
A new secondary school with a British and a full-time member of teaching staff at Sousei. The school organizes school trips for its students to England and Canada.

Suginami Sogo High School Tokyo, Suginami-ku, Eifuku
1-chome 7-ban 28-go Phone: 03-3325-2630

2-19-59, Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-0041, Japan
Phone: 03-3468-6811 Fax: 03-3466-0080
Not an international school but a municipal high school accepts foreigners living in Tokyo Municipality and Japanese returnee students from overseas countries. A highly competitive entrance exam is required to enter the selective school that ranks among the top 10% best municipal high schools in Japan. The school says that 75% of its graduates are able to enter the university of their first choice, a figure way above the 50% of other top public high schools. See its website for more info. The curriculum is designed to endow able students with a rich, well-balanced international outlook and a proficiency in foreign languages. A wide variety of specialized subjects and courses are provided for students with various backgrounds to expand their horizon. The curriculum pursues the study of General Subject Areas in the first year, while in the second and third years they have a wider choice of elective subjects in Specialized as well as General Subject Areas. Classroom language is basically Japanese and – with exception of English classes and other foreign language classes. However, the school offers SAT and TOEFL preparatory classes as well as counseling for those students who wish to seek admission to the universities abroad. The students of the school must earn 20 credits in foreign languages before graduating (compared with the 10 needed for Japanese).


A public school reported by the press to be conducting English immersion classes.

In the News:
Two immersion schools are in the works – to be established by the Okinawa Prefectural Government and by Nago City – Nago Bilingual Elementary School, Nago city, northern Okinawa. See article TIS Founder Participates in Okinawa English Language Programs

After Schools Supplementary Education and Language Support :

5-12-7 Sakai, Musashino-shi, Tokyo 180-0022 (Musashisakai, Mitaka, Kichijoji area)
Phone / Fax: 0422-54-1898 (Japanese or English) Email
After school programme is available for children between 3 and 6 attending a Japanese kindergarten. Full day preschool operating between 9 am – 2 pm with 5:1 student-teacher ratio – applies the Reggio Emilia method where learning activities are child-led. Standard kindergarten practices (all areas) are built upon, expanded and refined using extensive documentation of each child’s daily experiences. Flexi-programme with 2, 3, 4 or 5 day-week options. Particularly geared to cater for bilingual and multilingual children with one English speaking parent in the home.


902 Hatakeda Wakamatuku Kitakyushushi Japan 808-0104
Phone: 093-791-6446 Fax.093-701-0286 Email
CIC is an international school established primarily to allow Japanese students an environment for acquiring English in the most natural way and to use more efficient language training methods. The school offers: “Pair school” for One-year olds and Mothers; Preschool for Two-year olds; English Kindergarten(3-5) (It also offers follow-up classes for kindergarten graduates and returnees; English classes for elementary school children; Spring and Summer Camp; Spring and Summer Intensive English Courses). The school seeks to use a holistic approach in providing early childhood education with the goal of nurturing people who will be able to cope with modern society: this means enabling children to attain the language ability to be able to express their opinions and make themselves understood as well as to be able to have a broad range of knowledge in order to see things logically and critically.

offers Gr 6 -12 after school programmes that are open to all students living in Tokyo. After school programmes in music, fine arts, performing arts and sport are offered.

*** KIKOKUSHIJO ACADEMY INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL deserves mention here because it has an integrated secondary school programme that functions as a complete “after school” international college-prep school and as such is a true complement to bilingual children who are being educated in the Japanese educational system.
Pastel 202, 2-25-5 Ohara Setagaya-ku Tokyo 156-0041
Phone: 03-3324-9903 Email
Kikokushijo Academy International School provides a fully-accredited diverse, intensive, affordable, and specialized curriculum in English to motivated internationally-oriented Junior High and High School students. Accredited through its partner schools, Stanford University and Laurel Springs School in the State of California, USA, our students complete a dual program and graduate with an American diploma, enabling them to easily pursue university education anywhere in the world. KAIS is one of the most affordable International schools in Japan, yet it keeps class sizes small. Its curriculum is supplemented by its own independent programs specifically designed for students who want to reach beyond their potential and who may want to attend university abroad: SAT, TOEFL, and EIKEN TEST preparation classes, specialized writing program, College Admissions Essay workshops, and a wide range of developmental and honors (advanced) classes. KAIS integrates technology into all our programs and our students design their own creative classes. We even allow advanced students to take a variety of university classes and gain college credit.

KOMAZAWA PARK INTERNATIONAL PRESCHOOL (2 – 6 years full-day, elementary –jr. high evening program)
2-12-16 Fukasawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 158-0081
Phone/Fax: 03-5707-0979 Email
Begun operating in September 2000, the school incorporates the spirit and positive elements of the 3 leading educationalists of early childhood education (Montessori, Steiner, Froebel). Teacher : student ratio= one teacher, one sports trainer and one music teacher: ten children. The Evening & Saturday Elementary Program and Evening Junior High Program is designed to maintain and improve the English level as well as foster Western cultural awareness of Japanese returnees, children who want to continue learning English in Japan and half-Japanese children who attend Japanese schools. The program makes use of similar methods as many international schools when we teach students how to express their thoughts and conduct research; deliver an effective presentation; and discuss their ideas at age-appropriate levels at a high English caliber. The amount of course time devoted to doing research, creating presentations and practicing presentations increases as children grow older and improve their language skills. Upon completing the Evening Junior High Program, students will have received the instruction and training to the point where they can conduct research presentations and give speeches with the persuasive power needed to convince anyone from any country, and they’ll be at the same level as, if not higher than, students who attend international schools.

Annex II-101, Sengawa Avenue, 1-24-38 Sengawa Cho, Chofu-shi, Tokyo 182-0002.
Phone: 03-5317-3520 Fax 03-5317-3520 Email
A new multi-cultural school begun in September 2005 based in Sengawa, Tokyo strives to provide educational excellence for children aged 1 – 12 years old, using the IGS Method based on the theory of Jean Piaget, the Swiss Developmental Psychologist. Its aim is to foster intellectual curiosity, physical prowess and an appreciation for society and the environment. The school also aims to encourage bilingualism and biliteracy by providing a multicultural context in a loving and nurturing environment that will allow its children to express themselves intellectually, physically and emotionally. The school is offering an extensive programme beginning with Mum & Todd classes for children aged 1 years old, moving onto the Pre-School programme for 2 – 3 year olds, then the Kindergarten program for 4 – 6 year olds, and also an extensive After School program catering for Kindergarten and Elementary aged children. From September 2005, the Special Needs Education Programme and Adult English Programme will begin. The former will cater for children with mental or developmental disorders, aged 3 – 12 years old and the latter will be for mums and adults who wish to improve their English communication ability.

1F Rainbow Aoyagi Building Imaike Minami Chikusa Ward, Nagoya , Aichi 464-0851
Phone: 052-735-8958 Fax: 052-782-2464 Email
Students are also welcome to join our Kids Club after school classes (2:30 ~ 3:20 and 3:30 ~ 4:20) and our Saturday International Friends classes (1:00 ~ 1:50 and 2:00 ~ 2:50) as guests (no additional tuition). The school offers flexibly scheduled Kids Club after school programs are play-based learning (with a strong Montessori influence) allowing children to develop all of their communication and cognitive skills in fun imaginative ways. Children’s Advantage International Academy offers fulltime classes (9:30 ~ 2:30 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday) based on the Core Knowledge Sequence delivered in a Montessori inspired environment. The Core Knowledge curriculum and our Montessori inspired approach is perfect for families that don’t want to compromise on their children’s education while living and working abroad. It is also an exceptionally balanced and complete program for host country families who want an all English program without sacrificing other areas of development.

After-school and Saturday programs are also offered at these full-day schools:

GLOBAL KIDS ACADEMY (2 – 12 years / K – 6 after school)
SUKUSUKU WORLD (5 months – 5 years) – “freetime” school, come when kids want to, hourly charges
YAMATO INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (preschool – grade 6) -10:30-18:30 hrs

Yokohama Chuo YMCA Bldg. 8F, 1-7 Tokiwa-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama 231-8458 JAPAN
Phone: 045-226-2071 Fax: 045-226-2072 Email
Yokohama International Christian Academy’s comprehensive After School Program provides rich and rewarding after-school supervision for children in Kindergarten to 5th grade in a safe, educational, wholesome and friendly English-speaking environment. Activities include reading, assistance with homework, tutoring, art and science projects, structured free play, quiet study time, and enrichment activities. The program’s activities are challenging, age-appropriate and fun. Hands-on learning activities are always emphasized. Seasonal events are held throughout the year, such as Easter Egg Hunt, Children’s Day Halloween, Christmas, etc., in which children’s families are invited to participate. YICA’s After School Program is staffed by a well trained and skilled international staff adept at working with a multi-ethnic, culturally diverse school student body. YICA’s staff adheres to the basic principle that each child is unique and therefore requires individual and different approaches to foster positive growth. Moreover, YICA’s After School Program’s child-to-staff ratio of no less than 10 to 1 is one of the lowest in Japan. Curricula and lesson plans are based on the same high standard and quality curricula used by YICA’s full-time students. YICA’s International After School is in session Monday to Friday from 3 to 6 PM, and follows closely the Japanese calendar for national and school holidays. YICA employs a very flexible, affordable and convenient After School Passport plan which allows parents to schedule in advance and keep track of their children’s participation in various after-school activities, Students enrolled in our International After School Program receive a Passport containing a stamp sheet which allows them attendance to 20 after-school sessions over a period of 3 calendar months, excluding national and YICA school holidays. After expiration or utilization, additional Passport Stamp Sheets can be purchased at ¥40,000 and attached to the Passport.

The above listing is not comprehensive. If you want to find out more after school programmes, you can look through the detailed International Preschools & Kindergartens and International Grade Schools listings. After school programmes, where they exist, are duly noted in each school’s description.

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