Which schools are good enough for Japan’s imperial family?

According to the Daily Yomiuri news article posted below, these are the schools attended by members of the Japanese royal family:

Gakushuin group of schools (The regulations on education for Imperial family members–enacted in 1926, now abolished –had stipulated that Imperial children must attend either Gakushuin University or Gakushuin Women’s College)

Waseda University

Josai International University’s Faculty of Social Work Studies

Ochanomizu group of schools

International Christian University


With the entrance exam season in full swing, choosing schools to apply for is on the mind of many a test-taker. This applies just as much to school-age members of the Imperial family.
It used to be that Imperial family members only had one option–the Gakushuin family of schools–but recently they have begun applying to schools outside the Gakushuin circle.
The first such case was in September 2008, when Prince Takamado’s eldest daughter, Princess Tsuguko, now 23, enrolled in Waseda University’s School of International Liberal Studies after her studies at Gakushuin Women’s College and studying abroad in Britain.
All Imperial family members born since World War II had studied at Gakushuin all the way from primary school to university level, with the exception of some study abroad. Princess Tsuguko became the first to enroll in a school other than Gakushuin.
Last April, Princess Ayako, 19, the third daughter of Prince Takamado, enrolled in Josai International University’s Faculty of Social Work Studies. This April, Prince Akishino’s eldest daughter, Princess Mako, 18, will enroll at International Christian University, while the eldest son Prince Hisahito, 3, will be enrolled at Ochanomizu University’s kindergarten.
Gakushuin opened in 1847 near the end of the Edo period (1603-1867), close to the Kyoto Imperial Palace as a school for the children of court nobles. It moved to Tokyo as part of the Meiji Restoration in 1868 and became a state school under the then Imperial Household Ministry’s jurisdiction in 1884.
The regulations on education for Imperial family members–enacted in 1926–stipulated that Imperial children must attend either Gakushuin University or Gakushuin Women’s College. The regulations were abolished after the war, and Gakushuin became a private school. However, it remained the de facto school for Imperial family members.
The relationship between the Imperial family and Gakushuin is deep. Its kindergarten, which was closed during the war, reopened in 1963, a year before the current crown prince, then Prince Hiro, would enroll.
Despite the strong connection, the current Imperial family has begun to look to other schools, apparently because Gakushuin University’s curriculum does not offer the younger family members’ desired fields of study.
Princess Tsuguko chose a school that has many international students and offers classes in English, while Princess Ayako chose a school that offers child welfare courses.
Meanwhile, Princess Mako decided on ICU because the university enables students to take a wide range of liberal arts courses for the first two years before choosing a major.
Prince Hisahito’s parents, Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko, strongly desired a three-year child care system rather than the two-year system that Gakushuin’s kindergarten offers. Almost all Ochanomizu kindergartners are said to go on to its primary school. This means Prince Hisahito could become the first Imperial family member to go to a primary school other than Gakushuin.
Curriculum old-fashioned
Over the past 46 years, Gakushuin University–comprising faculties of literature, science, law and economics–has not established new departments.
Yoshio Hatano, 78, chancellor of Gakushuin, said: “The university may have become unable to respond to the needs of the times. We’re aware of the necessity to establish more departments.”
Motohide Osakabe, 77, one of the crown prince’s high school teachers and the author of “Hironomiya no Kanjo Kyoiku” (Crown prince’s emotional education), said Gakushuin has long taken in the Imperial family’s children and has not given them special treatment.
“Gakushuin must have provided a comfortable environment for the Imperial family’s children to study. It must be a real adventure to journey away from there, but there’ll be much to be gained [by going to other schools],” Osakabe said.

(Daily Yomiuri Jan. 29, 2010)

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