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.Private Daycare -- Hoikuen, Hokushitsu

Japan With Kids - Forums: Day Care in Japan: .Private Daycare -- Hoikuen, Hokushitsu
By Cornelia on Thursday, February 14, 2002 - 9:20 am:

Ikebukuro, Tokyo --
There is a private hoikuen called Kodomo no ie Kyodo Hoikuen which takes babies from 6 weeks to 3 years old and comes recommended by my daughter's pediatrician. (After 3 the child graduates to a kindergarten presumably).

Tel: 03-3916-6935
Address: 3-25-5 Kami Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku
The nearest station is Kita Ikebukuro on the Tobutojo train line. But you might be able to access it more quickly by bicycle if you live close by in another direction from how the trains run.

This probably runs 6 days a week. I'm guessing that the cost will probably be between 60,000 and 80,000 yen per month depending on the age of the child or something. I don't actually know anyone that is using it. I was told they make dashi from scratch instead of using instant soup stock, and they do natural cooking (which means mothers don't have to pack lunches).

By Cornelia on Monday, March 11, 2002 - 11:44 pm:

Hiroshima --
Noriko Nakamura, Owner-Operator
Mommy Home Childcare Service
3-60-3 Aita, Asaminami-ku, Hiroshima 731-01, Japan
Tel: 082-878-9219
Fax: 082-878-7923
e-mail address:
Please feel free to contact me.

By Arlene Ogata on Friday, April 19, 2002 - 12:16 am:

Hi Ms. Cornelia! How are you doing? I just want to know if you have an idea or have you heard of Marias Babies' Society? or does anyone out there have experience sending their child there? How good is it? I'm planning to send my daughter there. I need someone who can give me some feedback if it's really good through their own experience or maybe through the experience of someone you know.

Please let me know if you have heard about this before. I read their website and got so impressed and delighted. Please do not hesitate to give me information or feedback (good or bad) about Maria's Babies' Society. I would greatly appreciate anyone who can give me info about it. Thank you so much and hope to hear from you soon. God Bless you all!
Sincerely, ARLENE

By Nathalie on Friday, April 19, 2002 - 10:42 am:

Hello Arlene
Sorry I can't give much information, but we had a friend who used to send his son there until 2 years ago (he left Japan). I remember he was very happy about them, just complained on the price...

By Arlene Ogata on Friday, April 19, 2002 - 1:34 pm:

Hi Nathalie
Thanks for your little information. It helps a lot. Yeah I agree with you...the price is a bit expensive but for as long as I can leave my daughter safely at the same time they can teach my daughter appropriately to prepare her for the "BIG" school when she reaches five (Kindergarten), I guess, I'll push through with it.
Does anyone know more? Please try to give me some more feedback. Many thanks in advance.

By Karen on Saturday, April 20, 2002 - 12:31 am:

Could you post the address of the Maria's Babies Society website for us?
Thanks! Karen

By Admin on Saturday, April 20, 2002 - 10:55 am:
The name, address and web site for Maria's Babies is included on the International Schools list on this site. A lot of "daycares" also function sort of as pre-schools.

By Arlene Ogata on Saturday, April 20, 2002 - 10:56 am:

Hi Karen! This is the website address of Maria's Babies Society:
Take care! ARLENE

By Maaike Ono on Monday, May 20, 2002 - 11:48 am:

Hello Arlene,

I read your posting dd April 19. As our daughter went to Maria's from age 8 months till 14 months (October 2000 - April 2001) I thought I should give you my personal impression and share my experience with all users of Tokyowithkids as a reference.

The main reasons why we went to Maria's are:
- it is in our neighbourhood(so we went to have a look inside)
- it has a cozy, clean, homy interior (so we had a meeting with the head mistress)
- Maria Matsuoka and her staff come across as warm, disciplined, consiousness, and well organized care-takers (so we asked for the application procedures)
- the presentation material (print prospectus) provides good detailed information about the school and its terms and conditions
- music: violin, piano, singing classes gets special attention
- it is an English speaking curriculum but within a Japanese environment (many Japanese kids or kids from bi-cultural parents). They also have a Japanese class.

So we decided to apply. Then the following April (2001) we heard we had qualified for a hoikuen according to the public care system in our neigbourhood. At that point I found it difficult to decide but in the end we choose to change to hoikuen for the following reasons:

- I believe it is better for a child to go to a school which has the native language of one of the parents (Dutch-Japanese), although for pre-school this would not be such an important issue yet in my opinion. We originally liked Maria`s a lot for it`s international character.

- It is cheaper. Hoikuen is based on your salary and we fall under the higest rate but still Maria`s is more expensive. Maria`s basic fee is already quite high and for babies under two and for all kind of other things there are special additional charges!!

And last but not least

- At Maria`s we could only bring her three mornings a week (probably, but not guaranteed, from September we could have applied for the extended program till 2 PM) while at hoikuen we can bring her 5 days a week from 8am till 6pm if necesarry. At Maria`s there are a lot of holiday weeks (Easter, Summer, Autumn, Winter) all together maybe 20 weeks! Hoikuen runs throughout the year.

I hesistated as I really liked Maria`s baby society and my baby-girl had by that time also got accustomed to the environment and had started to like it. She had gone already over some other changes (moving house) and I wanted to avoid interrupting our routine schedule as much as possible.

However it worked out fine and I am glad we made the decision. She loves the Japanse sensei and other kids at hoikuen and I am proud of her, as she is singing songs in Japanese now at age 2 by herself and so often surprises me at home when she starts acting certain performances and games she memorized at hoikuen (from sports to house cleaning).

About Maria`s a few other things from my own experiences:

- I felt the presence of 'difficult' kids (I met only one though), although with specialist caretakers around, in such a small group, seemed to be a too heavy burden on the other kids and caretakers.

- there are quite some Filipina helpers who speak Tagalog amongst each others. I am sure the management does not support that, but it happens and in my case I was not happy with that.

- They monitor progress of the babies and kids very well in quarterly reports and meetings with the staff.

- They wanted to introduce uniforms for the kids. All parents were asked to fill in a survey. I opposed, but I believe it is now, partly, adopted.

- during those 6 months we celebrated Christmas, our daughter's 1st birthday and Easter together. Especially the Christmas celebration was a memorable event - where even the 'happy nappies' were participating in the jingle bells song. We could attend her birthday celebration with cake for all (surprise - how many cake did she had already by then?!) and received a nice polaroid souvenir. But also the Easter brunch in Yoyogi Park was a well organized special event with violin performances by the elder kids.

- I met with a couple of other parents with kids of about the same age with whom we still stay in touch (all of them just happen to have at least one Japanese parent).

and from others:

- Once your baby can move on to the extended program you have to prepare a lunchbox yourself. If the baby cannot eat by him/herself you have to attend.

- Maria Matsuoka is not a Japanese but a Filipina herself (I don`t think that is true, at least she went to school in Japan, and apart from that it would not matter for me as long as she is qualified)

- Our baby was sleeping most of the time at Maria's, an expensive nap!

N.B. You will only qualify for public hoikuen if both parents work full time, if you are a single working parent, or other circumstances prevent you from taking care of your baby yourself and no relatives are around.

Hope this helps - unfortunately the only recent experience I have with Maria`s is the dialy hassle with the cars of parents dropping of and picking up their kids in the small street near where we live. They have nowadays guards to see to it though, probably after complaints......

Greetings, Maaike Ono Boots

By Cornelia on Tuesday, April 1, 2003 - 3:48 pm:

Hoikushitsu (unsubsidized daycare) Setagaya-ku, Tokyo - list dated December 1996

Facility name (# of children), address, telephone

Tsukushi Hoikusho (25) 2-6-12 Taishido 03-3412-0294

Kurarute Hoikuen (24) 1-22-2 Setagaya 03-3429-4882

Bambi Hoikushitsu (17) 1-40-16 Setagaya 03-3428-4757

Sun Baby Room (20) 1-12-6 Taishido 03-3422-1214

Pony Hoikushitsu (15) 5-25-12 Kyodo 03-3425-7538

Tsubasa Hoikushitsu (9) 1-32-3 Sakura 03-3420-0063

Nakayoshi Hoikushitsu (12) 2-28-12 Ikejiri 03-3410-3529

Himawari Hoikuen (24) 6-15-13 Shimouma, Kobayashi Building 2F 03-3424-4885

Doremifa Hoikushitsu (13) 6-34-20 Daita 03-3485-7384

Aihara Hoikuen (9) 2-7-5 Umegaoka 03-3427-5313

Hoikushitsu Sakuranbo (10) 5-24-8 Daizawa 03-3412-5579

Sunrise Baby Farm (24) 5-24-18 Okusawa 03-3718-2204

Tamagawa Akachanno Ie (11) 3-20-10 Tamagawa, Kawabe Mansion 203 03-3700-5248

Tanpopo Hoikushitsu (10) 8-1-3 Okusawa 03-3703-7452

Minori Hoikusho (12) 3-27-10 Yoga, Yoga Mansion 101 03-3700-5925

Takagi Hoikuen (12) 2-20-18 Chitosedai 03-3482-4666

Megumi Baby Room (15) 1-11-5 Funabashi 03-3425-2240

Kodomono Heya (12) 1-30-9 Funabashi, c/o Kodomono Seikatsu Kenkyujo 03-3426-2323

Hiyoko Hoikuen (14) 2-2-11 Funabashi 03-3789-9557

Kodomono Ie (26) 4-11-5 Kyuden 03-3300-7940

Menesu Hoikuen (27) 4-16-16 Minami Karasuyama 03-3300-1673

Yurikago Hoikushitsu (13) 5-12-7 Kamisoshigaya 03-3300-7586

Applications/inquiries should be made directly to the facilities.

The fee on average is about Y45,000/month plus Y3,000/month for diapers, and kyushoku (food/lunch/snack depending on age) is provided. I called two of the places on this list (the first and the last) to confirm their info but I don't have time to call all of them. If anyone sees any mistakes please email me and I will make the corrections.

By Admin on Wednesday, May 7, 2003 - 12:50 pm:

<!-NOTE: Message edited by 'admin'on Jan 16, 2017-!>Koenji, Suginami-ku, Tokyo
date: 5/5/2003
I haven't been too active on the TWK list but here goes....A long time I ago I mentioned that I had a great hoikuen and you asked that I provide details.

The hoikuen is in Koenji, called Maria Hoikuen. Web site:
tel: 03-3338-9634
166-0002 s捂~kQڂSP|U
2 Chome-41-6 Koenjikita, Suginami-ku, Tokyo 166-0002

It's named after Maria Montessori, not affliated with any religious groups.

Our daughter was enrolled from age of 3 months to 3 years & 3 monthss. They only take kids until they are 3. Now she is at a regular public hoikuen and I realize how special Maria is.

High teacher-child ratio. Well trained staff. Well thought out 'curriculum.' Really simple, but it keeps the kids from simply running around undisciplined like at her new place. She learned lots of songs and did a lot of crafts. They take them on a least 2 field trips a year -- to the fire station and to a large park. Every day they go to a nearby park (weather permitting.) In summer they put out little wading pools.

One drawback--the place is tiny. I worried about that at first, but now I think it's actually a good thing -- the kids are so little and the staff can keep a better eye on them.

I'm glad we had Maria and we so lucky to have just waltzed into the situation: 5 minutes walk from our house and they just happened to have an opening when we needed it.

The place is clean and the building relatively new--reinforced concrete, which is earthquake damage resistant-- the door has a security feature. Overall the best thing is just that the staff is all so caring, the kids are all pretty well behaved. And clean. My daughter comes back filthy from her new place.
There is always some slight staff turnover in April, but enough continuity so that it isn't traumatic for the kids to lose a beloved sensei.

They even have an 'English sensei' come in once a week these days. And the principal is herself married to a foreigner and speaks some English and so isn't at all inconvenienced by having foreign/mixed nationality kids.

I wish they took older kids too. I definitely would have left her enrolled there.
Best regards, 'anonymous'

Time in Japan: over 10 years
Use of Comments: Use my comments but keep me anonymous

By Brett Alten on Thursday, August 21, 2003 - 2:22 pm:

We are about to move to Okusawa and have a 22 months old girl. We would like to send her to a preschool, either Japanese or international, whichever is best. We would like to start ASAP. Any recommendations?

By Imogen Tilley on Tuesday, October 21, 2003 - 1:06 pm:

From January I'm looking for day care for my baby in or around Nishi-Sbinjuku. I am looking for a place that stays open to at least 8 in the evening and all day Saturday.

By Mono on Tuesday, October 21, 2003 - 4:20 pm:

Have you checked with the city hall? They have a list of all the public and private (they just can't recommend you one)daycares. I think calling them is the easiet way.... If you can't speak or understand Japanese well, you can use the city's free consultation services for foreigners. Many cities have provide these services nowadays, so I'm sure you can find one in Shinjuku!

I saw a TV program about changing daycares in Tokyo area quite a while ago, maybe in the Spring. It was about how certain daycare programs had to extend the operating hours to meet the needs of working parents, and how they'd lose fundings from the city/government by doing so. From what I've seen on TV, it seems like there are quite a few daycare programs that are open very early and late. I hope you will find a good one for your child.

By Cornelia on Tuesday, October 21, 2003 - 4:52 pm:

Dear Momo,
Why on earth would child care centers that stay open later to better accommodate working parents have their government support reduced? They are providing a service in very high demand, that the government is cutting back on severely for the last several years. Do you remember the explanation in the TV program? Was there an explanation?

It doesn't make sense to me.

By Shumshad on Tuesday, October 21, 2003 - 8:09 pm:

newly opened daycare and montessori check out there website for more details.

By Natasha on Tuesday, October 21, 2003 - 8:36 pm:

Dear Shumshad, I could not find any part of the "futurefrontiers" website in English, only in Japanese. Can you tell a bit about them, perhaps at least an address and a phone number?

By Bethan Hutton on Wednesday, October 22, 2003 - 9:44 am:

There's company called Kids Plaza Ask which runs private hoikuens around Tokyo which are open 7 days a week until late at night. My daughter goes to the one in Ikebukuro and we're very happy with it. I think the closest one to Shinjuku is Takadanobaba, but the main number for the company is 03-5155 5031, so you could check if there's anywhere more convenient for where you live/work.

By Mono on Wednesday, October 22, 2003 - 10:48 am:

Dear Cornelia,

My memories are really vague, but I think it has something to do with what the welfare office considers appropriate for the length of time children can stay in daycares.

I don't know what's the standards here, but I think most public daycares(hoikuens) won't allow parents to leave their kids in hoikuen for more than 8-9 hours a day even though they are open a lot longer, say for 12 hours. I think the daycare providers I saw on TV were allowing some parents, who work more than 1 job to leave their children for very long time of period, and the welfare office or the gov. sees it as neglect. It's like the daycares that are open close to 24hrs(if not 24hrs) are promoting unhealthy parent-child relationships, and the gov. can't support them financially (at least the hours outside the "regular" hoikuen hrs?).

Like I said, my memories of that TV program is very vague, so I could be wrong. I just remember feeling sorry for the hard working parents and the daycare providers while I understood what the welfare/gov was saying.

By Admin on Wednesday, October 22, 2003 - 12:16 pm:

Thank you Bethan! Here's some more info...

Kids Plaza ASC (Japanese only)
03-5155 5031 Mr. Masaki speaks English.
13 nurseries and expanding (maybe 10 more by this time next year). Sample of locations:
Shinkoiwa (Edogawa-ku)
Odaiba (on the first floor of the Decks building)
to open: Shiodome (near Shimbashi) in April 2004

They plan also to do English pre-schools in the future. (38 - 44 weeks per year)

By Anne on Friday, October 24, 2003 - 5:03 pm:

Dear all,
Does anyone heard about the Shrirogane International School ? I have a 2 years old son; Bilingual English-French. We will move to Shiroganedai by mid-November.
Thanks, Anne

By Gauri Sathaye on Thursday, October 30, 2003 - 12:43 pm:

Dear All, I live in Jiyugaoka, Tokyo.
I'm looking for a private hoikuen for my son near to my house.I've applied for the public one but you know how difficult it is to qualify for one. My son is almost 3 yrs. Can anyone recommend me a good day care.
Thanks, gauri.

By Kim Collins on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 2:26 pm:

My daughter went to a nice (licensed) private hoikue (day care) in Meguro by the station called Momo Chan nursery. (It's actually part of Shinagawa ward) They will keep your child until 9pm. I think in an emergency until 11pm. The children are mostly Japanese but by the end of the year there were a number of foreign kids from different countries. English wasn't spoken very much but the staff were friendly and easygoing. The Meguro Room was only a few months old so the place was clean and bright. And then I found out that they have a number of rooms around Japan and I could drop my daughter in any of those places at the rate of the monthly fee. 48,000yen for 90 hours (minimum rate) It gets cheaper for more hours. The registration fee was 20,000yen. There were some additional fees for extra meals. If you want to use the place occasionally they will charge 1200 yen per hour plus tax.
Tel: 03-5914-0130 and their parent company is Coty. The Waseda room was ok too but a little quiet and no windows. Tel: 03-3207-0355.

I also found another private day care when I moved to Itabashi. The name of the company is Chibiccoland and they too have branches all over. Run as franchaises so you have to visit each one to see the property and atmosphere. They are also licensed. But their rates were 800yen per hour as a drop in service or 46,000 for unlimited use with a 10000yen registration fee. (daycare hodai!) But they closed at 7pm. The one near my place was run by a Ms. Ono who spoke some English. I also took my daughter to the one in Tama. It was quite lively and fun. Tel: 042-373-7115.

My daughter is now in public daycare which is free for me. And they stay open until 8pm at an extra charge. But they are quite strict with times and bringing clean towels and attending from 9am prompt for the daily activities. My Japanese ability is conversational level so I could get by but reading the information was hard. Ask someone for help. I went to the local playgroup for a few months to find out info. (The Jidoukan) the local place for kids to play also will have info.
But it takes a while to find out who can speak English as the Mums tend to keep mum about their English ability. I think most private daycare places take kids until 5 or 6 years old.
Hope this helps any new Mums or Dads with daycare searches.

By Machiko Ito on Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 5:03 am:

There is a bilingal preschool in Tachikawa city (SukuSuku World) where accept a child from 6 months to 5 years old. Both English speaker and Japanese speaking teachers are at school everyday. It's really good opportunities to learn both Japanese and Western culture through the interaction with other children, teachers, and many events carried at preschool. Great thing about SukuSuku World is that they also accept from only for one hour. When I go back to Japan, I always bring my child to there while I am doing for my business. If anybody want to know more detail about Sukusuku World, let me know. You can also check their web. just click the "English" on the right top of the page.
They also offers free trial lesson for an hour for us. You just need to contact to them by email so you can set up the time. You can ask me to contact to them too since I know the principle of school now. You can see some pictures in the main Japanese page too.

By Admin on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 1:19 pm:

Daycare in English:
Kids International is an international child care center which Kids International limited manages. They have about 8 locations including Yokohama and Chiba... not just Tokyo.
Quote from their website:
"The corporation Murakami Music Office which is the parent company of Kids International does bridal business such as chapel & wedding receptions.
For information about the parent company "Murakami Music Office", please check the homepage below. "

By Linda Gondo on Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 6:55 pm:

Here is a hoikuen which accepts bubs from birth. Very nice. Bright, happy rooms and the staff seem to be very caring. There is also a park nearby. They also have a kind of yochien for older kids (although pickup time is geared for working Mum's) in a different location a few streets away. The yochien is developing a bilingual curriculum.

By Cornelia on Saturday, February 26, 2005 - 11:57 am:

Mita 5-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo - I've walked by this place twice now (half a block from Namboku and Mita lines station), so I copied down the phone number. Very new, clean, can't see in the window though. Can someone who reads Japanese check the website for details?

Yurarin Shirokane Takanawa Hoikuen 03-5791-1488 They seem to be open from 7:30 - 22:00.
By Cornelia on Friday, March 4, 2005 - 04:15 pm:
More information on the 9 (yes, nine!) branches of Yurarin Hoikuen (thank you to Yuko Kubota for her help):

The following is the easiest page to refer to:

You can click each of the 9 branches listed on the left-hand "Contents" to see details as well as an icon to jump to their map (the upper right of the 5 squares) which shows their address and phone number.

Yurarin Shinozaki:
Walk 3 min. from Shinozaki Station on Toei Shinjuku Line

Yurarin Chitose-karasuyama Hoikuen
Just across the street from Chitose-karasuyama Station West Exit

Yurarin Toyosu Hoikuen
Near Toyosu Station

Yurarin Shirakane-takanawa Hoikuen
Near Shirakane-takanawa Station

Yurarin Ueno Hoikuen
Near Iriya Station on Hibiya Line

Yurarin Mita Hoikuen
Near Akabane-bashi Station on Toei-Oedo Line

Yurarin Jiyugaoka Hoikuen
Near Jiyugaoka Station

Yurarin Higashi-Oizumi Hoikuen
Near Oizumi-gakuen Station on Seibu Ikebukuro Line

Yurarin Sagamihara It's Hoikuen JR Sagamihara Station Building 2nd floor

By Cornelia on Friday, April 22, 2005 - 10:44 am:

Iidabashi, Tokyo
I just found flyer in my mailbox for a new daycare opened at Iidabashi station and the prices are very reasonable. I wish they had been around 8 years ago when my daughter was born!

It is called Kids' Plaza Asuku Iidabashi. They have a choice of 4 or 5 days a week plan and run from 8 to 18:00.
The number is: 03-3260-5697 (mostly Japanese)
Address: Central Plaza 1-1-3F Kagura, Shinjuku-ku

For example, the price for a baby (from 45 days old) is Y51,450 per month on the 4 days a week plan. They also have drop-in service where you pay Y840 per hour and a registration fee Y525 and an annual member fee of Y1575.

They have an application pending with Tokyo City for daycare certification. They also have early and late hours at Y735/hour if you are already in the 4 or 5 day plan.

By Clare Humphreys on Thursday, May 26, 2005 - 9:30 am:

Hi. Can anyone recommend a Hoikuen in the Ichigaya/Yotsuya/Iidabashi area? I'm looking for something fairly small. I don't need it full time, but I'd like my 10 month old to go there maybe 3 afternoons a week so that she can pick up some Japanese and mix with other children. I'm checking out Kids Plaza in Iidabashi, but I'm new to this and would rather have somewhere that comes recommended (my Japanese isn't really good enough to ask lots of questions).
Thanks, Clare.

By Janine Parker on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 10:54 pm:

Hi, I am just in the process of sending my 14 month old son to Japanese daycare. I am not sure what is considered a good hoikuen.
The place we are testing has a high staff to child ratio. There is no outdoor playspace, however, they do go to the local park everyday, weather permitting. The toys seem quite old, the kids are seperated into age groups and the room is just one large space.
We were in Australia recently where he went to casual daycare and it is hard not to notice to difference in styles between the two countries.
What should I expect? How do I tell if it is good hoikuen?
Also how will his language skills be affected? Both his parents are Australian.

thanks for any help and advice. janine

By Peter E on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 11:19 pm:

14mo is 1-sai class which should be separate from 0-sai. which is supposed to have 3.3m^2/child (note, they roll in april, which makes no sense at all if your child was born in may and is the biggest in 0-sai and stuck there until the following year!)

The place you describe sounds private, they play by different rules (read, MONEY), the space requirements and staffing are also different for "semi-private" (ward approved) and "private" (how much can you pay?)

You don't mention where you live, what sort of hoikuen it is. I hear good things about kids' plaza, but there isn't one near me. (Nakano-ku) The best way to find out is to talk to other mums in the area. See what they say.

By Cornelia on Saturday, July 16, 2005 - 4:14 am:

Dear Janine, the best way to decide if a daycare is suitable for your kid (in line with your point of view) is to observe everything carefully when you go to take a look and after your child is enrolled especially (at drop-off and pick-up times). I have been quite amazed at the differences in opinions between mothers on what they consider acceptable and what not. I personally, for example, found that my daughter at 14 months was much more interested in any object in the house other than her brand new toys, from the newspaper to the curtains to the pots under the sink and the soap dish. So frankly, I don't think the age of the toys is relevant at all. More important I feel would be does the staff have time to wipe down the toys and how often (to meet your criteria), since all objects handled in that age group find themselves frequently mouthed. Most mothers who put their kids in a situation where they are exposed daily to children from other households will blame them for every bug brought home. I'm not sure that it is entirely fair, since fathers also bring home germs and mothers also venture out with their kids to shops, parks, etc... But daycare kids at least seem to get sick a bit more often, and some mothers have trouble taking that into stride, in particular with their first child. By the time number two comes around, they get more pragmatic about all that. Unfortunately there is no perfect daycare just as their is no perfect school (or perfect spouse!) There is always compromise. Try to be positive. For every annoyance there is a plus! As long as the child has access to stimulation (visual, tactile and motor for example), receives kindness and understanding, food, warmth and enough rest, then it will thrive. And the second language stimulates the brain! Better not to focus on individual negative details but keep the whole picture in perspective. Here's my list in addition to the obvious stuff about play, meals, diapers, naps, etc.:

* is there an attempt to answer my questions?
* do we agree that no kids are "bad" but just need a lot of age appropriate guidance?
* when accidents happen (and they will), do I get an accurate account?
* do the staff genuinely love and care about kids?

Another issue that a lot of North-American moms bring up is the question of "space". Many come from very privileged environments with huge amounts of space, and apply this standard when they go to other countries. But I learned very quickly that it was in fact an advantage that my daughter was confined to a relatively small space when she was young. I was able to respond more quickly when she was always within sight. When we went home on summer vacations, I frequently found myself running around trying to find where my daughter had gotten off to in the big parental home. I think that rather than saying that some daycares seem too cramped, one could take a more positive viewpoint that they are cozy and the caretakers can attend the children more easily. The kids themselves don't have the expectations that we as parents sometimes assume. The kids are very adaptable! And the home environment is the most important one at this stage of the game. Good luck!

By Janine Boyd on Saturday, July 16, 2005 - 3:55 pm:

Hi Janine
We have more than our name in common. My children (Aussies)also have been to Australian daycares and I am a fully trained Early childhood professional with a specialisation in childcare accreditation and grading so you can imagine my frustration at the different standards between Japan and Australia..........however. After my initial shock at the open gates to the road, the free access to the playgrounds of salesmen and other strangers who might venture in, the freedom of no playground height restrictions or softfall I learnt to take in a deep breath and GAMMAN (tolerate) some differences). Yes kids might escape out an open gate but they will scream to be let back in as soon as they realise their mistake. As Cornelia says the children are amazing at adapting to their environment and every bad point has another way to look at it. If the gate is open there is no need for the child to investigate but a locked one makes it somewhat intriguing. If a stranger comes in he/she probably IS just a salesman or kindly old neighbour. My hoikuen had NO toys, because it made the children FIGHT!!! was the answer. This required some patient deep breathing on my part but I watched in amazement as the children adapted to this no toy environment by playing in the lockers (no doors) and learning to find scraps of paper and bits of sticks to play with instead. If the children fell, amazingly it usually wasnt life threatening and their balance was better next time.
The only things I have kicked up a fuss about is
1. after 4pm they do family grouping. ie when the older kids are put in the same room as the babies. At this time they put on the violent videos that I detest, Ultraman, Godzila even Anpan man where violence solves every problem. The only way for me to avoid my childrens' exposure to this was to pick up the kids by 4pm. I was lucky and managed this most days with my flexible shift.
2. UV exposure is not really an issue here but another point I had to insist on. I requested that my children were allowed to wear their sun suits, sun hats and sunblock. I put the sunblock on every morning and ask the staff to apply it again before outside play. I exaggerated the incidence of skin cancer in caucasion children to drive home this point as they didnt want to co-operate at the start, since everyone would start asking for the same treatment. Insist on this one. Its important.
3. I didnt want my children to see the teachers dressed as monsters at Setsubun no Hi (A festival in February each yr when the children have to throw beans ...dangerous size like a teacher dressed as a devil) I just take the day off work that day to avoid the terrible nightmares that the kids must suffer after that. Boy, we have trouble in Astralian childcares when the kindly old "Easter bunny" or "Santa" visits, so we never them to vist the babies as naturally, the bubs would be frigtened.

Anyway, if you COULD chose a school WITH a play ground there should be less risk of walking on broken glass or picking up a cigarette butt. All the best with your choices and my tip of the day is to get ahead at home. If you know the childcare is going to serve up things that you wouldnt normally give a young toddler like jellies, gum or candies ....YES they give them these things sometimes SIGH.... reduce the worry by teaching your child that they MUST sit down to eat these and take small bites of the jellies to reduce the risk of choking. Chew gum while sitting and spit out after 20 chews.
All the best and remember, that despite all the apparent danger there doesnt appear to be any greater incidence of accidents here.

By Janine Boyd on Saturday, July 16, 2005 - 4:16 pm:

Oops, Janine you asked about how the language might be affected. I have put 4 children through the hoikuen system from the age of One year here, and my kids, like yours, have 2 Australian parents hence English only at home. I was suprised to see that within 3 months of care the kids appeared to understand everthing by sitting and listening intently especially at story time and by 6 months in the hoikuen system, they were communicating their basic needs in Japanese to the teachers and other classmates. Now my eldest is 10 and goes to a regular Japanese elementary school and the youngest is One, currently at hoikuen. The older kids have attended schools in Australia for two weeks over the Japanese summer holidays while visiting Grandma and to my suprise the kids are not behind at all, infact the Australian teachers commended their language skills, so as they say in second language research it seems having fluency in two languages is an asset rather than a liability.

By Steven van Aardt on Saturday, July 30, 2005 - 1:24 am:


I'm in need of advice.

My son who attends one of the private hoikuens mentioned herein has now twice been taken to hospital by the same hoikuen suffering a dislocated arm.

He's never had a problem at home with us, and he even refuses to tell us what happened there at the hoikuen - he's only 3 years old.... suggestions would be very welcome.

By Anne Bergasse on Saturday, July 30, 2005 - 1:16 pm:

A friend of mine told me once that he often had to take his 3 year-old daughter to the hospital due to a dislocated arm. It happened when he or someone else twirled her or pulled her arm. Even though he was careful, it still happened. I had never heard this before and have not experienced it with my kids but I guess it happens easier with some kids than others. Maybe there is some play gym or twirling activity that involves the arms
being pulled at the daycare.
Hope this helps.

By Janine Boyd on Saturday, July 30, 2005 - 5:58 pm:

Hi Steve
dislocation of the arm is rather more common than many peole realize.
It often happens innocently when the child is given an "airplane ride" where one arm and one leg is held and the parent spins the child around or lifted up quickly creating body weight plus extra force on the shoulder joints.

Most children are fine with this kind of rough play however there are obvious dangers which parents/carers usually find out about the hard way. A dislocation of any kind is painful but often by the time you have gotten into the car to go to the doctor the arm has slipped back into place all by itself. Dont try to fix it yourself, just offer a warmed hot water bottle for comfort until you can see a doctor. You can make a makeshift sling by pinning the bottom of a jumper or Tshirt up over the arm pinning the bottom of the shirt to the chest of the shirt...if its long enough to do this comfortably to help support it.
Otherwise ask your child to cradle the arm with the other while you seek out first aid.

Unfortunately if an arm as dislocated once it will dislocate more easily a second time, simply by lifting the child up by the hands instead of under the arms.

The best thing you can do to prvent future dislocations is to give your child the opportunity to build muscle strength by encouraging swimming, tumbling and rolling and opportunities to support his/her own weight, eg wheelbarrow races spinning on a jungle gym and remind the care givers at your childcare center to lift your child up under his or her armpits, NOT by the hands

By Natasha Watts on Saturday, July 30, 2005 - 11:35 pm:

Hi Steve,
When my son was 3, I accidently dislocated his arm just by pulling his arms to wake him up in the morning. I was not being rough at all either! It really shocked me how easily this can happen. He was in great pain and I rushed him to the local orthopeditian (seikeigeka in Japanese). Luckily the DR we went to was fantastic and fixed it right away in just a few seconds, in a way which looked to me like just a touch. It was not a painful procedure for my son, and as a matter of fact, my son was really surprised that the pain magically went away so quickly and thanked the DR himself for taking away the "ouchie"! (Rare for a 3 year old!!) Right afterwards off to his kindergarten he went.

I have been careful about pulling his arm though since I heard that if the arm is dislocated once, it's easier to dislocate again as Janine posted above. He is now 4 and fortunately hasn't had anymore episodes. He has grown into an excellent tree climber and has very strong arms now. Maybe that helped.

On the other hand, if the dislocation happened at a Hoikuen as in your case, I can really empathize with your worries. Afterall there are always bullies and sadly, there are daycare centers with rough (or violent) staff. I don't want to feed into your worries but if I were you I would deffinitely think of all possibilities.

Maybe I would talk to other parents from the Hoikuen to hear if they had heard of simillar incidents with the other children. I'd also reassure my child and begin talking about danger and bad people out there and how I am always there to protect him. With a 3 year old, I think you'd have to repeat this kind of talk over and over again for it to sink in too. Then maybe he will start talking about what had really happened.

Good luck!!

By Amanda Jones on Sunday, July 31, 2005 - 11:36 am:

Has anyone had experience with Fine Kids International pre-school? They had a center in Yokohama that recently closed down and they still have one in Kawasaki. They told us their business is doing well but we are concerned that they will close down and we don't want to give them a large deposit only to have them disappear in a few months.

By Eliza on Tuesday, February 21, 2006 - 10:16 pm:

Hi! Does anyone know a 24 hours or late night open hoikuen in Roppongi or near?
Thank you very much!

By Eliza on Tuesday, February 21, 2006 - 10:19 pm:

Hi! Does anyone know a 24 hours or late night open hoikuen in Roppongi or near?
Thank you very much!

By Adriana on Wednesday, May 3, 2006 - 12:03 am:

Does anyone know a private daycare in Yoyogi Uehara area. Any info would be appreciated. Also how long in advance can I enroll my baby. Can I do it while I am still pregnant or does the baby has to be born before I can do it. I intend to go back to work within few months so don't want to be in the situation where I will be on a waiting list for 6 months or longer.
Thanks, Adriana

By Beth on Tuesday, June 13, 2006 - 12:50 pm:

Hello. I was just wondering if anyone knows of a private hoikuen near Roppongi that allows you to drop off your child for just 2 days a week. I'm not working right now (though I'll probably start part-time if I find daycare) but I want my 10 month old son to be immersed in a Japanese environment for part of the week, since he only hears English at home.

I know of one (Kid's Square, which has branches in Roppongi Hills and Ark Hills, among others) but it seems a bit expensive (75,000 yen/month for just two days a week). The facilities seem decent, but not special enough to justify the expense. I know I could use any of a number of dropoff centers, but I like the idea of a place with a schedule and organized curriculum (insofar as you can have a curriculum for a 10 month old).

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!


By Rode on Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - 11:45 am:

I am in search for a hoiken in the Itabashi area (off Tobu Tojo Line). If anyone can offer any suggestions or advice, I'd greatly appreciate it.


By Bethan Hutton on Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - 1:52 pm:

Your first stop should be the local ward office for a list of ward-run and private hoikuen, and home-based childcare providers (hoiku-mama). Some of those only accept applications centrally through the ward office, while some private ones accept applications individually.

One hoikuen I have seen advertised (I guess it must be relatively new) is close to Itabashi Station (JR Saikyo line), run by Benesse, a big company which does childcare, educational products etc.

The website is:

If you can't read Japanese, the basic details are: Benesse Child Care Centre Itabashi. (Private, but Tokyo Metropolitan Government approved)
Tel 03 5943 2081
Address: Itabashi View Crossing building 2F, Itabashi 1-55-16, Itabashi-ku.

From the map, it looks like it is very close to the west exit of Itabashi station.

It takes children from 9 months to 3 years, open 7am to 8pm.

By the way, this is not a recommendation - I have never been to the hoikuen - just one place for you to check out.

By a2002 on Thursday, July 13, 2006 - 12:32 pm:

Can anyone help us in finding about private hoykuens in and around Yamashita-cho area.. (closer to Motomachi Chukagai eki). Tried with naka-ku ward office and found that all the public and semi-private are all full or not suitable for us. We are sending our twin boys (3 years according to Japanese system but 4 years now (2002 June)) to YIS from this Augest. So we are looking for options whereby we can put our twin boys into some play schools nearby this area after their school hours (2.40pm to 6.30pm)till I come back from office. Anybody tried Kids play school in Yamashita cho?

Waiting for the reply regarding this...


By Leepatripathy on Thursday, December 6, 2007 - 7:39 am:

i am an Indian lady having a 1 yr and 6 months old son. i want to send him to a private daycare , preferably English daycare . but japanese daycare will also be fine for us. i stay near Ueno . so i would like to get daycares in ueno or Kitasenju or Minamisenju area. can anyone please give some information about private daycares in these area? thanking you.

By Mjt on Saturday, May 10, 2008 - 9:27 am:

I am looking for a private day care near Nishi Magome Station or any day care that is close to any station along Asakusa Line. Thanks.

By Natcav on Thursday, May 15, 2008 - 2:40 pm:


I am looking for a private day care near Hamadayama or Takaido station (on the inokashira line) for my baby of 3 months old from august 2008. Alternatively I am also looking for a japanese person qualified to take care of my baby in my home in Hamadayama for a few days a week in the norming or the afternoon. Does any body know anything in this area or have any recommendation from experience?

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