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Preparing a Toddler for Japanese Daycare?

Japan With Kids - Forums: Day Care in Japan: Preparing a Toddler for Japanese Daycare?
By Orangelettuce on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - 6:29 pm:


I will be moving to Japan with my soon-to-be two year old daughter in January. My sponsoring agency has already made childcare arrangements for me, but I'm wondering how much Japanese will she need to know, and if there are any resources anyone can recommend for teaching toddlers Japanese?

Further, my daughter is very precocious - how much of a problem will this be? Here, her current daycare provider finds it amusing, I'm not sure if that applies to Japan though.

By Bunny on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - 7:17 pm:

I suggest you ask your sponsoring agency the name of the nursery and do some googling.

There is a world of difference between public and private hoikuens.

Don't worry about precocious, I think that is symptomatic of being an only child. Being dropped in a nursery with 30 other kids who don't speak a word of her language will soon cure her.

If you're lucky, maybe they'll cover your health insurance and the under 5 are free. (under 11 from october??).

By Ajhazel on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - 7:40 pm:

My sons were 1 and 4 years old when they came to Japan. Both were put into 100% Japanese daycare. The 1 year old had no problem at all from the beginning. The 4 year-old was not very happy for about 3 months because he had trouble communicating, after about 6 months he spoke like a native. I have heard the same from others. If your daughter is 2 years old, I suspect she will be completely comfortable after about a month. (You should be so lucky to adjust as quickly. :-) )

By Sarahl on Tuesday, January 8, 2008 - 10:40 pm:

Hi there,

A question for Bunny - would you mind briefly explaining what the world of difference between public and private hoikuens is? I would really appreciate your advice. I'm looking for somewhere for my daughter to go 2 or 3 mornings a week, once she's about two years old. According to the ward office (Shibuya), it won't be easy to find her a place in a public hoikuen since I"m not working, not hard up etc. So I may have to go the private route but finances aside, I don't know which would be best, so I don't know if it's wprth trying to get a public place. Everyone else I know has opted for an international pre-school, so I"m finding it hard to get good advice on the different Japanese options. So your email intrigued me - I'd be very grateful to know your thoughts.

best wishes, Sarah

By Bunny on Tuesday, January 8, 2008 - 11:34 pm:

Note: I live in Nakano-ku. Things may be completely different in Shibuya-ku even though it's really close.

If you are in Shibuya, there's one that was called "yoyogi international pre-school" I don't know if it changed its name or not, but if it is good enough for Honami, it's good enough for you ^^; It's a bit of an ex-pat // nouveau riche crowd. Your mileage may vary, but I actually enjoyed reading books to little kids occasionally.

Appears to be their URL. Arrange a visit after checking if you can afford it.

Private vs Public
Public Hoikuen are better than Private ones because they are regulated. For example, "zero-sai" require 3.3m^2 of space per child. Can you imagine a private one being able to afford that? (Hint: temples)

However, I think a friend's relatives run one, in Shibuya. But I am not sure what it is called or even what age group. I will inquire.

If you lived in Nakano-ku, or wanted a hellacious trip, HOSEN in Nakano-Sakaue has a preschooler class, I think that's age 3 though. However, Japanese is a requirement for there, the facilities are good, the teachers are good, but the mums. If I say anything about them, I will be accused of being a vile sexist pig. My mother approved of the place and she has 40 years of teaching experience.

Going public (based on Nakano, YMMV)
Getting a place is based on a points // need system. You need a minimum number of points to even stand a chance. You can however, game the system.

1 - both parents must APPEAR TO be in full time employment.
2 - the commute must be none trivial (working at home, at an office around the corner etc)
3 - no grandparents within easy reach.
4 - obviously, you need your child in hoikuen monday to friday, 9 til 5, if you can't arrange to need that, you'll have little hope.

Before you start on the above:
Remember to visit the public nurseries near you or on your way to work etc and mentally prepare an order of desirability. Talk to mums (Ignore my opinion above, you're after facts, not friends), find out what they think about the nursery, particular attention to who is in charge, also find out which GP they recommend. For example, the nurseries have a weekly GP visit, find his name. In our area, that is Tanuma (and he ROCKS.)

If you have the points, then you bug them every day until they offer you a place just to get you out of their hair. Elsewhere you will find the timing discussed, for april admission, you sort of need to be getting in their hair about now.

In all likelihood, they will offer you a place at the furthest nursery away from you because that one will have places (eg, its in the middle of a demilitarised zone) then it becomes a case of negotiation, "but it will cost me TAXI/BUS/etc fare every day just to get there and back." Send the husband in to waste half a day of their time.

Oh, and polite and insistent works way better than loud and rude. If you come across as a thoughtful gaijin mum desperate for a place for your child, trying to learn japanese, etc, rather than the japanese "daft chapatsu floozy" or "fat cow" then youre more likely to get their sympathy. (Seen this, had to listen them, recommend ear defenders). You're after the people at the counters' sympathy to an extent, ooze earnestness.

It also helps if you know they have spaces, at the nursery you want to place.

Hope that helps. I'll try and find the private nursery.

By Bunny on Wednesday, January 9, 2008 - 1:04 am:

The oldest private kindergarten in Japan.

Kishibe Youchien; ݕӗct

Sorry, but the page is all in Japanese and there isn't much information, I suggest you call and visit.

By Sarahl on Wednesday, January 9, 2008 - 8:46 am:

Hi Bunny,

That's all incredibly helpful - thank you so much for the information. best wishes, Sarah

By Athena on Friday, January 11, 2008 - 4:48 pm:


There are also some public hoikuens that accept children on a temporary basis. You don't have to be employed anywhere. They are basically to ease stress. You call the day of, fill out a form (basic info. about allergies, toilet training, etc.). These are usually 1,200 plus (extras for food, snack) for one day. I sometimes put my daughter in there for just a morning, but the cost is the same. Sorry, I live in Gunma, so not sure of any names in Tokyo!

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