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Commuting to School

Japan With Kids - Forums: Education in Japan: Commuting to School
By Kathleen Lewis-Workman on Friday, September 19, 2003 - 12:29 pm:

How do you get your kids to school? School Bus, public bus, train, walk, car? Which is preferable? My husband and I will be moving to Japan next year and I am trying to pick an apartment near work/school. I am worried about taking the kids to school on the subway (even two stops). Is over-crowding a problem for kids on the train? I take the Metro in DC and am used to public transportation in NYC, but I hear that rush hour trains in Japan are something else indeed. We have a significant amount of choice in where we will live and I am wondering if it would be better to be on a bus line for school, or a subway line. My kids will be 6 and 3.

Any suggestions?
How do you get your kids to school?


By Dennis Mobley on Friday, September 19, 2003 - 2:36 pm:

I would assume you will be putting your children in Private (English speaking) schools, correct? If so, you should consider what school(s) you want to send your child to, and search for housing accordingly. The housing search will be the greatest challenge.

As far as transportation is concerned, like most, people I take a train to work. Yes, it is crowded -- that is Tokyo (you get used to it quite quickly). There are a lot of children on the trains in the morning. It might be surprising, but even as young as 6 or 7 many children here commute to school on the trains by themselves.

We drive our 4 year old to school now simply because the bus would take too long.

Regardless, good luck.

By Jill on Friday, September 19, 2003 - 3:49 pm:

In my experience families with very young children i.e. 3 yr old take their child to day care/school or car pool with other parents. For school age children many International schools run buses and I would think it was easier to put your child on the school bus. I personally would choose a location, if possible, where I could drop my 3 year old off near the apartment or on the way to work and live near to the school bus route but all options are possible. My boys are older and they use public transport and plenty of young children do that.

By Cornelia on Friday, September 19, 2003 - 4:46 pm:

Where I live there happen to be 5 options! So we've played with it a bit. We took the bus for a while but it ran at the wrong time, using up to much time sitting at a bus stop waiting. I ruled out using the Yamanote line because that is a very crowded train in the morning in that direction. And the arrival station is huge (Ikebukuro)! The subway was not crowded going in that direction but still arrives at the same huge station with throngs of people. I also used bicycle (20 minutes one way). I still take the bicycle sometimes, but at almost 7 years old my daughter's really getting a bit heavy to be a passenger and her legs are getting quite long.

So finally we settled on the street car. She now takes it alone, 3 stops. Then she has to walk 5 minutes to the school. Basically if you are taking the train in the other direction from the main commuter flow, it is NO PROBLEM. However age 3, alone, forget it. Age 6 is borderline (depends a bit on the kid's personality and their prior experiences). Even when they are smart enough to know how to do it, you can't always trust them to do it in a timely fashion and not dawdle along the way. My daughter has a string of tardy arrivals to prove my point. So though she's been coming home on her own since about age 6.5, I am still escorting her to the station and putting her on the tram in the morning to lower the opportunities for her to get side-tracked.

By SBee on Thursday, November 20, 2003 - 11:34 pm:

Both my husband and myself are Singaporeans and we would like to put our 4 year old boy in K international school next Sept. However we are now staying in Ouji Kita ku so it is better to move to a place where the school bus route runs. Can parents who have kids in K internatinal share with us where would be a nice place to move to which is convenient for marketing and bringing up kids. We are also thinking of Hirou because there is a big foreign community and a primary school *Kougai* in case we want to quit international school in the future. Thanks!

By Jung Pyon on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 2:42 pm:

My family will be moving to Tokyo from U.S., and I'm planning to send my daughter (1st grade) to ASIJ. We're planning to live in Hiroo area. I'm very concerned about 50 minutes of school bus ride each way since she's very young. Could you please share your experience if your young children go to ASIJ (Chofu campus) from Azabu/Hiroo/Roppongi area? Do they like it? Do you regret sending them there since it's very far? Any comments will be very appreciated. Thank you very much for your help!

By Scott Hancock on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 4:57 pm:

Hello Jung-
Please be reassured. It is not stressful for the vast majority of kids. (And your outlook on it going in, will have an effect on hers.)

Before our kids went to ASIJ, I asked many people "How do your kids like the bus?" and the answer was always positive. Now that our kids have been riding for 3 years (currently 5th & 8th grades), I can say the same thing.

Even for younger ones, it becomes a part of their social life. Since your neighborhood is one of the most heavily populated by non-Japanese, they will have plenty of company. Even the different groups of people who will share your bus stop become a kind of social group.

One way you might get some extra comfort is to plan on equiping your daughter with her own cell phone. If you have someone slightly technical, there is even a type with GPS and, with a subscription, you can see their location on the internet without even calling the phone. (I had one for my daughter until she changed models.)

Also, know that there are 2 or so student monitors on the bus. They help maintain order, etc. The younger kids sit in the front and do not mix with the somewhat more "active" middle schoolers. High school in back. That kind of thing.

I have been very impressed also with the bus driving. Whenever I see the ASIJ buses on the highway, they are plodding along at the real speed limit, rather than +30-50kmph over like everyone else. All in all, I have been very impressed with the bus system.

If you have any other specific questions, the admissions office is very open to your questions.

Please prepare your daughter for a great adventure, meeting new friends from all over.


By Sandy Cox on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 6:23 pm:

If your daughter's going on the school bus, it's like a major social hour. Your daughter will learn lots of (American) English, probably including some mannerisms you might not be quite so pleased with !

By Jung Pyon on Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 9:05 pm:

Scott and Sandy

Thank you very much for your input. I feel much better now!

By andrew319 on Monday, July 4, 2005 - 11:21 pm:

may I add.. ASIJ bus monitors are highly trained and all are American Red Cross certified. in first aid / CPR and other emergiency procedures .. so IF something happens.. they're in safe hands.

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