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Japanese High School

Japan With Kids - Forums: Education in Japan: Japanese Public/Private School System: Japanese High School
By christina on Wednesday, February 21, 2001 - 11:44 am:

hello! i am aboout to enter the 11th grade and im moving to okinawa in september. i would like to know if their are any japanese schools that accept american highschool students? i am familiar with language but not good at all. i really want to go to a japanese/okinawan school because of the experience and how they run their education system there. if you have any advice i really appreciate it.

By Tim Dennis on Tuesday, March 13, 2001 - 1:00 pm:

The high schools in Japan aren't really public high schools as we would think of them in America, meaning acceptance is via either a recommendation from the middle school or through academic test. Japanese public school is only through the 9th grade. There are three high schools in the Naha [Okinawa] that have foreign student programs. What that means basically is they offer an additional Japanese class for those students. The rest of the courses are conducted in Japanese with minimal translation offered. Unless you have a strong foundation in the written and spoken language, it will be very difficult.

We're currently going through this process with my oldest son. While his grades were reported as being the highest for a foreign student having attended his Japanese public middle school in Okinawa, and a strong recommendation was submitted by his middle school to the desired high school, he wasn't selected. He now has to compete with all the native Japanese students via the academic testing for acceptance into the high school. He has been attending Japanese public school since his seventh grade, and has been attending Kumon (after school cram school) for nearly five years studying Japanese and Math. The difficult area is catching up on all those years of Kanji... I don't want to discourage you, but acceptance is difficult if you do not have a strong foundation in Japanese.

Actually as a father, I'm very frustrated....If my son isn't selected based up his academic test, he's finished until the testing takes place again next year. The middle school had lead us to believe that my oldest was nearly a shoe-in to the high school, based upon the recommendation and personal visit from the school principal. When that fell through, it was a huge let down. Recommendations can only be submitted to a single high school, not to a variety, so it's like putting all your eggs in a single basket. If it fails, then you're back to the academic testing process. If my son isn't accepted based upon his test scores, I'm considering putting him back into the Department of Defense School Systems. I can't see him waiting a whole year to go through this process again. It's difficult for me to accept this process...

My wife says: If Christina's parents are both American and they're in the military, then they would have SOFA status and she would not be able to attend Japanese Public School. If either her mom or dad are Japanese, and she is registered on the Japanese Family Register, then she can register for high school. Note that not all high schools have the staffing to aid foreign students nor the will. Like many situations, there are second son is attending Japanese Public School and he isn't on the family register and ofcourse he's under my SOFA status but his mother is Japanese. It really depends upon the local schools and how receptive they desire to be...

If her parents are coming into Japan under a work visa and will be paying Japanese taxes, then Christina would be allowed to attend Japanese public schools. There might be a high school willing to take her, but again there very possibly might not be one.

Christina could gain a lot by reading many of the discussions on this site...and realize that if she doesn't have a strong foundation in the Japanese written language, it's going to be very tough on her to step into it at that grade level. I admire her desire to experience the local culture, but full time high school without knowledge of the written language might be more negative than positive....

By Cornelia on Tuesday, March 13, 2001 - 1:33 pm:

I actually wonder if high school is seen as a "right" or a "priviledge" in Japan? I know that in Germany, kids are split off into different extended education after 8th (or is it 9th) grade. There are the ones that go to "high school" which is college bound. And the rest go to vocational training schools or directly into apprenticeships. (At least this is how it was in the past, maybe it has changed.)

By Tara on Thursday, September 20, 2001 - 11:11 pm:

> You can not get into a Japanese High School
> without passing an examination in Japanese.

I would think that certain schools with a Bairitsu of close to/less than 1.0 might consider it, if you give them enough advance warning and have some amount of Japanese to get by (maybe 150 hours of Japanese study under your belt?). "Bairitsu" is the ratio of applicants to available seats-- so a Bairitsu of 1.8 means that there are 1.8 applicants for every seat available.

For private schools anything at all is possible-- again, the closer you get to Bairitsu of 1.0, the better your chances of them considering it seriously.

If you go for a school with a Bairitsu of less than 1.0, your chances of SOME place taking you would be quite good (some desperately need the tuition money and will accept anyone living and breathing), but keep in mind that there are reasons why schools have Bairitsu of less than 1.0. Some of these
schools are truly BAD NEWS. Think in terms of, maybe 6 students show up out of 30 for first period, that kind of thing. This is true for both public and private schools, incidentally.

Of course you normally have to enter in 10th grade-- can't just show up for senior year or anything.

There are more and more universities taking 'fresh' (i.e., non-Japanese speaking) college-age or older students and allowing them to enroll in degree programs as they study Japanese on campus (different from the typical "enroll 1.5-2 years at a Japanese language school first" path). Meikai University just outside of Urayasu (Disneyland area) is the only one that comes to mind right now besides the much more expensive Old Standbys like Sophia-- Meikai has something like 20% foreign enrollment, mainly English-and Chinese-speaking students. I can't think of any other such schools off the top of my head, but I know they exist and I could look some of them up if anyone is interested.

By Sandy Cox on Saturday, April 6, 2002 - 12:12 pm:

Tara, I just started a conversation here for Japanese Universities and then I found this little bit by you on the subject under this high school heading. I would be interested in knowing of more of these schools if you can get to the information easily. I guess that none of the public universities are doing this?

By Admin on Saturday, June 22, 2002 - 5:32 pm:

Guidance (Orientation) on Getting Into High School For Foreign Residents

The joint efforts of volunteer groups and high school instructors in Tokyo have made possible two guidance sessions with interpreting in 5 languages for foreign parents who want to send their children to high schools in Tokyo. The first will be in June; the second, in October. What to expect in terms of payments (tuition, etc.) the Japanese education system, and entrance exams will be discussed in a general session. Immediately following, there will be individual counseling sessions regarding education. Please join us.

June 23 (Sunday) from 1:30 - 4:30 Tokyo Volunteer Center
(JR Soubu Line - 10th floor of Central Plaza to the right of West Exit of Iidabashi Station)
1:30 - 3:00 Guidance Session
3:00 - 4:30 Individual Counseling Sessions
Participation: free of charge Lectures: Instructors from Tokyo Prefectural High Schools and Others
Sponsors: Steering Committee Assistance: Tokyo International Exchange Foundation
Cooperation: Study Group on Education for Multicultural Coexistence
For further information or to register please contact:
(English) Evelyn Sasamoto Fax: 042-551-6793
(Japanese) Naoto Toshima Tel: 0426-64-1656

R.S.V.P. requested because of limited facilities

By Corinna on Thursday, June 27, 2002 - 3:41 am:

I feel there is quite a bit of excellent information here that is very difficult to find. Even Japanese families returning to Japen seem to have trouble finding the information they need. My son attended a Japanese preschool here in California for 3 years. I recall many of the monthly PTA newletters discussing the problems of returning after a year or two here.
I have 4 children. All of whom I hope to someday get to experience life in Japan.
I wonder if anyone out there might have information about high school experiences. My daughter is fifteen and she would like to attend school in Japan. She is currently visiting with her grandparents in Tokyo. But she wishes to stay longer than the summer and enter school. Any suggestions?

Follow up message 2004 Oct 15: Hi, I would like to thank [JWK] for keeping me up to date on many different subjects. In addition, I was very pleased when, after about two years, one of my requests for information was kept in the back of someone's mind. I was very surprised one day to get information on high school for my daughter in Japan... I do want to let you know that unfortunately, she was never able to attend school in Japan. Fortunately, this past summer her younger siblings were able to attend 2nd and 4th grade for a few weeks while they were in Tokyo with their father. It was an excellent experience for them.

By Admin on Friday, October 11, 2002 - 11:30 am:

I'm sorry but the info for this came in a file format that I couldn't immediately open, so I put it on the back burner until too late! However, if you were to contact one of the organizers (Evelyn Sasamoto or Naoto Toshima below) they might be quite helpful.
Guidance (Orientation) on Getting Into High School For Foreign Residents

October 6 2002 (Sunday) from 13:30 - 16:30 Tokyo Volunteer Center
(JR Soubu Line - 10th floor of Central Plaza to the right of West Exit of Iidabashi Station)
1:30 - 3:00 Guidance Session
3:00 - 4;30 Individual Counseling Sessions
Participation: free of charge Lectures: Instructors from Tokyo Prefectural High Schools and Others
Sponsors: Steering Committee
For further information or to register please contact:
(English) Evelyn Sasamoto Fax: 042-553-5888
(Japanese) Naoto Toshima Tel: 0426-64-1656

By Tara on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 4:19 pm:

> Annual fees total about Y200,000
> * remember that fully subsidized public school in Japan ends with Junior high school

Not related to tuition, but related to uniforms....

I just plunked down Y62,500 just for the ABSOLUTE BASICS of my kid's *public* JHS uniform. That is the bare minimum (e.g., only 2 shirts, so we'll have to do laundry every day), and we still need to buy the official shoes (indoor, outdoor, and "going-to-school" shoes [i.e., uwabaki, club katsudo, and tsugaku shoes are all set by the school]). Eventually we'll hit the el-cheapo discount stores for the socks and belt and so on-- I only bought the mandatory stuff. I am not looking forward to plunking down another Y25,000 to Y30,000 in May for the "summer uniform", which they start wearing June 1.

I was told by another mother whose kid just graduated from the same public JHS that when mandatory workbooks, etc. are factored in, I should expect total expenses for the first year of Y150,000. Second year is cheaper (about Y80,000) and third year is another nightmare (another Y150,000). This will be more if your kid goes to a small school because of economies of scale at the larger schools for the school trip, yearbook, etc. (The elementary school yearbook was Y15,000... I am assured that this is "cheap" because our school has so many kids.)

This is of course besides required lunch and bus fare (the kids are not allowed to ride a bicycle to school). That is Y1000/day total.

Just so you know that even the gimu-kyoiku (mandatory education) in this country isn't cheap either!

Tara, Adachi-ku

By Cornelia on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 4:36 pm:

Tokyo Metropolitan Kokusai High School
2-19-59 Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153
Tel: 03-3468-6811, Fax: 03-3466-0080
Mr. Kataoka speaks English.

They actually have an entrance examination option in English.
Here is their website (the English section is not complete):

Here are some letters from students who have graduated:

Annual fees total about Y200,000
*fully subsidized public school in Japan ends with Junior high school

The bairitsu (ratio of applicants for spaces available) for foreign applicants for April start is 1 out of 3 applicants. (There are about 60 applicants annually).

Entrance examination is twice a year. 20 foreigners are accepted in April. Only a few are accepted in September (the number of applications in September is much, much lower).
Foreigners are accepted only in 10th grade.
Intensive Japanese lessons are provided. The mission is to give foreigners a chance to survive long-term in Japan. Foreigners who graduate from this school are eligible to take University entrance exams as if they were Japanese.
6 languages are taught. But all other subjects are taught in Japanese.
Only Japanese nationality is allowed to come in at 11th or 12th grade level.
Daily conversation is not the bigger challenge. Learning enough reading and writing skills to be able to learn the subjects taught in Japanese is the bigger hurdle. Students can stay an extra year or two, to pass the graduation examinations though this is somewhat rare.

note from admin: The web site for this school has been changed to

By Cornelia on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 5:00 pm:

Good points Tara, and I bet that Y200,000 yen mentioned on the website for this school doesn't even begin to tell the "whole" financial story.

By the way, if your income is low enough (especially if you are a single mother) -- the qualifying point differs depending on how many kids you have -- you can get a subsidy from the city hall to help pay for all these uniforms and stuff. But will not cover all.

By Tara on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 5:26 pm:

> Good points Tara, and I bet that Y200,000 yen mentioned on the website
> for this school doesn't even begin to tell the "whole" financial story.

Other problem with Kokusai High School is that, like most high schools that have a separate category for foreign students, you have to either (1) have graduated junior high abroad or (2) go to a non-Japanese junior high while living in Japan. So, if you come here for 9th grade and go to a regular public junior high for 6 months or so and can barely ask, "Where is the bathroom?", guess what, you have to take the same test as the Japanese natives (as far as their website says).

In our case, we searched high and low for a junior high that would take a kid who had been in Japan since the beginning of 5th grade. If he had started in a Japanese school after July 1st of 5th grade, he would have qualified for some schools' (read: two or three schools') "Returnee/Foreigner" category. However, having enrolled in a Japanese school in April of 5th grade, he had to take the same entrance exam as the native speakers. I am talking about the private schools here, of course.

Some schools (such as Hosei #2 JHS) have a new entrance test (started just this year) by which people like us can squeak through (according to THEM): entrance is based on (1) an essay (not the kind you prepare at home and submit, like when you apply to university; this is a write-it-in-90-minutes essay that you write on Entrance Exam Day in the testing room) and (2) an interview. Now, realistically, how do you think a foreign kid would fare in THAT kind of entrance exam? My kid studies hard and is in the top half of his class in kanji quizzes, etc. in his class-- as in, better than half of the native speakers-- but his essays consist of "I like soccer. Soccer is fun. I play soccer on Sundays." and that is as much as he can handle. That is the reality of it all.

Jiyu Gakuen (15 min outside of Ikebukuro) is excellent if you can afford it (we can't); Wako (25 min west of Shinjuku, then another 20 min bus ride) is also absolutely WONDERFUL (way too far for us, but we would have gone there in a heartbeat if we could). Also extremely cheap-- I can't remember, but something like Y45,000/month. An absolute bargain for the education there. Nothing is in English, mind you.

I can't recommend those two schools enough. Jiyu Gakuen is known for letting kids develop their own talents in their own ways. Their graduates are known for being great human beings. Wako kids are actually competitive in entrance exams. The school pushes the kids to go into Wako university, but a lot of kids get into much better schools than that.

Wako does not have uniforms, and some of the kids have red hair and Mohawks and whatnot.

The nice thing about public junior high is that I can send my kid to the US for summer studies for 2-3 months a year and no one has any right to complain about it-- the kid can't get kicked out of public school for poor attendance, although doing that in 9th grade could affect his getting into a good high school.

Wako, BTW, told us that they would fully support our trying to maintain/build the child's English competency, and would give us no trouble about going to the US whatsoever. (Can't begin to tell you how much I *love* that school!)

Tara, Adachi-ku, Tokyo

PS. Jiyu Gakuen's website is
it is a freaking fortune-- like 1.5 mil yen a year or something like that. And dorm. is mandatory for jhs 1st year boys and shs 3rd year boys-- that is part of the expense.

Wako's tel: 042-734-3401 Monthly tuition fees are Y41,970 per month, an absolute STEAL, and I would gladly pay double that.

By Benedict Valz on Saturday, October 25, 2003 - 12:18 am:

We are looking for a school for our daughter who needs to attend Japanese high school this coming April. She speaks and write English, and fairly good in Japanese, although as all foreigner problem, she is weak in writing. Please help us find a school anywhere in central or west Tokyo, where there are more foreigners so she can adopt easily. She already stop for 6 months after graduating middle school in June 2003, and she is getting bored at home, not mentioning the time she wasted.

By Pato on Friday, April 2, 2004 - 8:05 pm:

35 'super English-language high schools' designated

Friday, April 2, 2004
TOKYO EThe education ministry has designated 35 high schools in 27 prefectures as "super English-language high schools," where English is taught more intensely than regular schools, for the 2004 school year that began Thursday, the ministry said.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology similarly gave the designation to 18 high schools across Japan in 2002, and 35 in 2003. The ministry will conclude the designation process with the next school year. (Kyodo News)

By rena rena on Thursday, November 11, 2004 - 7:23 pm:

I'm looking for Japanese high school in Tokyo that accepts foreign students, can anybody gives me a list of it? Else than the schools above? Thank you.

By sam welsh on Saturday, June 18, 2005 - 2:09 pm:

hi! im 15 and i live in america and im learning japanese and when im 17 i would like to move to tokyo and go to school there and live in a apartment there . my question is can a 17 year old live in a apartment in tokyo without an adult with them? and would a school exept me if my japanese was limited? any advice would help allot!

By Scott Hancock on Saturday, June 18, 2005 - 5:33 pm:

You want to do your last year of high school in a Japanese one, is that it? This would be very challenging to arrange from afar without your parents/guardians. Japanese schools are very traditional and - even if you spoke perfect Japanese, it would be hard for them to accept, I think. If you throw in NOT speaking fluently, it seems VERY difficult.

Do you have a particular school in mind? You can't just show up at the door and ask to go the next day or even soon.

Do you know Japanese school year begins in April?

If you really want to do this, you should start researching Japanese high schools on the internet and start corresponding with them. Only a very few would be able to respond to you in English.

There is also the matter of funding. I think it would be almost impossible to go to a public school because you need to be a registered alien. It also means having a visa, which is permission from the Japanese government to be in Japan as a student. The way that is usually arranged is by the school that accepts you.

Sorry to throw so many things at you. Here is a basic list:

1. Find a few schools on the interent that seem to meet your needs and situation.

2. Correspond with them and ask them what you need to do to be accepted in their school. Also, ask if they'll help with visa procedures.

3. While you're doing 1&2, save up money.

4. A year before you would start at this school, apply. Even a year is short notice for them

Here's a better idea. Finish high school there while continuing your Japanese courses. Go to university and get a bachelor's degree in teaching or another subject that interests you (maybe Japanese!). Apply to the JET program and come to Japan and be a teacher in their school system. Check out the JET site at:

Good Luck and ask any more questions.

By Yuko Kubota on Saturday, June 18, 2005 - 5:53 pm:

Hi Sam,

From the very limited knowledge that I have, I think people would normally suggest you to ask at your current school or any local school counselor to see if there are any short-term exchange programs you can apply for as well as homestay arrangements. I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard, and many students do this without much knowledge of the Japanese language. You will be accepted by an ordinary Japanese high school that participates in the program where you can make a lot of Japanese friends, and you will be excused to do your own English studies while the others work on something else in Japanese.

However, if you wish to choose the non-exchange and try to compete with ordinary Japanese students age 17, you must achieve a very high level of Japanese academics IN Japanese language. Moreover, while a 17 year old living alone seems to be acceptable as long as you have a guarantor, there are many law restrictions for those under 18, and from a mere quick check on the internet, I can find dozens of stories telling us how tough it is. And I'm talking about native Japanese 17 year olds living alone.

So if studing in Japan at 17 is your top priority, look for exchange programs where you will be able to "experience" a lot of the culture protected by people and your native language.

But if you want to dig in deeper into the Japanese society, I would follow Scott's advise.

Of course, you can do both the high school exchange and the JET program as long as you have the time and money and promission from your guardian.

Good luck! You have a lot of options ahead of you at age 15!

By Scott Hancock on Saturday, June 18, 2005 - 11:58 pm:

Great idea on the exchange program idea, Yuko.

By Nancy on Monday, June 20, 2005 - 12:15 pm:


Rotary International offers student exchange programs worldwide, including Japan. You would live with a host family while attending school. This would certainly be worth looking into.

By Admin on Wednesday, November 2, 2005 - 3:45 pm:

From Aileen:
"For those who intend to have kids in the public school system for the long term, please Do read The Gaijin's Guide to Surviving High School Entrance Exams Based on the Experience of Two Mothers of Three Boys in Tokyo at the link below

The article was reproduced by the kind permission of Rebecca Ikawa and Sandra Tanahashi at the Education-in-Japan website. You can't possibly find a more revealing or informative guide than this."

By crystal cabello on Thursday, January 12, 2006 - 8:27 am:

i need help! what is a good school to go to in japan? im going real soon to tokyo and i need all the info i can get!

By Kurz on Monday, June 9, 2008 - 2:35 pm:

The Tokyo Metropolitan Kokusai High School in Meguro has proven a success. I don't know if this new school was already on the planning table, even before the Kokusai in Meguro had proved itself, but now it has opened:

Name: Tokyo Metropolitan Tachikawa Kokusai Secondary Education School
Location: Tachikawa (west Tokyo)
Address: Z’·@‹g@ΰV@ˆθ@Ά
Tel: 042-529-5335 , Fax: 042-527-1829
Official opening date: 2008 April 1
Grades: 7-12

The first 7th grade will start with 160 students.

They have an abbreviated English version on the website, and it seems that they will hold a series of open days and Q&A sessions for parents. They will accept 30 students in a category of "returnees and overseas studens living in Japan" as well as 130 Japanese students. They will hold an open house on June 21st.

By Amiamara on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 8:34 pm:

Hi! I'm a junior high school student in Japan and am a foreigner, so I'm thinking of taking the essay entrance exams at Tokyo Metropolitan Kokusai High school. So, I was wondering if you could help me enhance my writing and thinking skills by critiquing my essays at

And if you know anything about the interview process, could you give an overview? Everyone around me tells me that it's almost impossible to be admitted there, but I'm taking the risk, so I desperately need all the help I could get. If you need any help, too, I'll do what I can :-) Let's help each other, since we are all foreigners and we're the ones who know most what each other is going through :-)

Thank you!

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