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J school verses International School

Updated on May 3, 2012

Foreign Kids Learning in Japan

As a foriegner in Japan, I had much to consider when deciding on a course of education for my children. At first, I choose to homeschool. I was worried about the culture shock my two young kids would experience. They do not speak any japanese nor do they look like the oth er children. Like most mothers in the technological age, I turned to the internet for some guidence and insight. I was horrified to see many blogs, articles and forums filled withe stories of bulies, teasing and intolerance. I also took the advice of my mother into consideration. She told me s tories about her own culture shock that she experience when she came to America. I was very firm in my decision to homeschool when I first arrived in Japan. The original plan was to homeschool for a year and then consider international school. Over the next couple of monthes, I started realizing how much my children missed the interaction of school. They had booth been in day cares, preschools, public schools and private lessons in America. Even though they were recieve interaction at the park and at dance lesson, they missed the normality of going to school. I must admitt, I missed the alone time I had when they were in school. One day, my eldest asked me," mommy can I go to school like the other kids?". Icouldn't deny such a straight forward request. My hat goes off to the mothers th at can homeschool and make it work. For my family, it did not work. The children were being educated but we all craved the seperate lives we each had at work and school. Choosing to send them to school was not diffcult. Choosing what type of school to send them to was the most difficult task. Ultimately, I choose japanese school over international school.  Here are a few reasons why in case you ever have the same question.

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We all say you cant put a price on a child's education. I do agree but, the price the are asking here in Japan is ridiculous. The international schools here can easily equal to a years salary for some. Most international schools run some where around ¥2,000,000 a year. Thats about $22,000 a year. Some schools offer scholarships but the are not easy to come by. To gain a scholarship, a child may have to go through rigirous testing, a family interview and a long waiting process. I did find an international school remotely in my budget. The Indian International School and the Global inidan International schools of Japan run around ¥ 600,000. This price seems much more resonable be cause thats about half the cost a year if i sent my two children. By no means am I a miser but I'm also not a money bags. Elementary School in Japan is compulsary. Other than misc. school supplies and lunch, a child's education is FREE.

The Education System

English is the primary language in most international schools. Most of the children speak and play in english. They all receive some typed of Japanese education but the primary language is english. It goes with out saying the primary language at a japanese school is japanese. My kids receive one on one japanese education a few times a week to help them to be able to better communicate. Also, the japanese elementary school system is full of fun and education classes.  In adition to their standard education, my children are learning to swim, play the melodion, proper japanese etiquette and simple home economics.

Lack of Diversity

I originally considered international school in order to shield my children from being the "odd man out' in school. My children are african american, white and japanese. When I looked at the international schools, I noticed a lack of african americans. The children at the indian schools wher naturally indian.  And of course, japanese public schools are filled with japanese children. I came to the conclusion that my children would be the minority where ever they went.I came to Japan so that the children would learn about the language, culture and history of Japan. If they were going to be the minority where ever they went, it seemed only logical to immerse them in the japanese enviroment.


All of the international schools in Tokyo were a bit of a train ride away. There were a couple fairly close but, close still ment a 20 min ride on a packed train everyday.The schools that I was considering ment a 45 min train ride everday day each way. Trains in the morning are packed. The train stations are filled with businessmen and students all cramming on a train to make to work or school on time. I would have to leave my home at least an hour before schedule if i didnt want to be squeezed and cramped onto a train. Most schools begain lessons between 8-9 am. This would mean i'd need to leave the house around 6am. That may work for some but i thought that would eventually become an issue for all parties involved. On the other hand, Japanese school is a short walk from home. Children in Japan do not catch a school bus to and from school. All children walk because there school is with a 15 min walking distance.

Sense of Belonging

 International Schools are a bit away from my home. This would me that the friendships made at the school would pretty much have to stay at school. Unless the parents were able to set up a play date, they would only see each other at school. Where as at the local japanese school, the kids are all local. The kids they play with at school, are the same kids they play with in the neighborhood. This also dimistifies the idea of a "gaijin" in the neighborhood. My kids are no longer the foriegners. Instead, they are the girl/boy that is in my class, school or group. When we first moved here, most people avoided us. Only a few interacted with my family. Now, I cannot go to the grocery store, department store or park without seeing one of my kids classmates. This has made Japan feel more like home verses a place we live.


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We h ave experienced some bullying but, my childen have a great support system. My daughters teacher personally came to my home to walk my daughter to school one day because she was frightened. The schools have zero tolerence for bullying. Of course children will be children and they will get in minor arguements. That is to be expected anywhere. My children are treated like any other child in the school. They receive english eduction in class as well as homeschooling after school.They love it. As long as my babies are happy, I am happy. I think I made the best choice over all for everyone.


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    • Hezekiah profile image


      8 years ago from Japan

      Interesting hub. My daughter is 1.5 yrs half Japanese (Japanese National). I thing that going to an internation school is the best way to be bilingual. I speak Japanese to the Mrs. and English to my daughter but she tends to be picking up Japanese only. The costs are incredible though, I wonder if its worth it.

    • luvintkandtj profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from USA

      It is very expensive to send your child to an international school. I dont really see the benefit till highs chool. agian that is only my opinion. some parents swear by international schools. For me the pros of japanese school out weigh any cons


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