Created for expats living in Japan

Enrolling in a Japanese public school and materials you need to prepare

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In Japan, children with foreign nationalities have the same rights as Japanese children. This means that if a foreign parent would like their child to receive a Japanese education by participating in the public school system, they can. It should be noted that foreign children are not required to undergo compulsory education in Japan. The custom may be very much different from the one in your home country however, if you are considering enrolling your child into a Japanese public school, the information below may prove useful.

Procedures for Enrolling in a Japanese Public Elementary and Junior High School

Once you have registered your address with the municipal office, go to the Board of Education office to inform them that you would like to enroll your child into a public school. They will choose an appropriate school based on your address (school district). Please note that all documents are in Japanese and you will be required to fill out the forms in Japanese as well. Some public schools may offer English and Japanese Language Support.

School grades are determined by a child’s age. Children born between April 2 to April 1 of the following year will be in the same school grade, since the Japanese school year begins in April and ends in March.

Procedures for starting school

The Guide for foreign students to start school is provided by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Please find information by choosing your language.

Conditions to be met in order to enroll in a Japanese public school

- You (parents) and your child’s address is registered at a municipal office
- Your child must be the appropriate school age (Children of all nationalities have the right to enroll in a Japanese public school)

The Cost of  attending Japanese Public Elementary and Junior High School

The tuition at public elementary and junior high school is free however there are several additional costs.
E.g. lunch (around 4,000 JPY per month - depending on the school), contribution to the PTA, material fees, school excursion fees, uniform (mostly in junior high schools) etc. The 

Some examples of school supplies needed are listed below.

Materials you need to prepare for elementary school students

These are basic items which you will need to prepare before your child begins attending elementary school. You will be given more detailed information at the enrollment session. You can also inquire at your local Board of Education. There are also many yearly activities and events in Japanese public schools.

1. School Backpack (Randoseru)

A Randoseru is the main bag children use for carrying textbooks, notebooks, and stationery. In Japan children don’t leave their textbooks/notebooks at school, they will need to carry the necessary textbooks and materials every day.

2. School hat (Boushi)

Depending on the region of the school your child is attending this hat may or may not be required. Most schools have a  hat to be worn when children travel to and from school each day.

3. Handkerchief and Tissues

A handkerchief is for the drying of hands after washing. At school there are no towels or tissues available.

4. Tote bag

A bag for carrying tools and materials used at school.

5. Inside shoes (Uwabaki | Uwagutsu)

Uwabaki's are worn inside the school.

6. Sports uniform (Taisôfuku | Taisôgi)

Most schools have their own sports uniform for gym classes and sports events.

7. Swimwear (Mizugi)

Most schools have swimming lessons in summer and you will need to prepare a swimwear.

8. Writing board (Shitajiki

A writing board (sheet) is a plastic sheet which is used when you write in a notebook. You place it underneath a page. It gives a firm surface and it prevents the bleeding of ink and transference of marks to the paper underneath.

9. Other materials

Depending on the grade and school, you may need to purchase some materials:
E.g. A Japanese calligraphy set (shodô set), a sewing set (saihô dougu), a paint set, a disaster prevention hood (bousai zukin), an abacus (soroban), a recorder,  a keyboard harmonica etc.



You may also be interested in:

List of International Schools in Japan

Japanese education system and which school is the best for your child

Primary - Elementary School System in Japan

* What You Should Know about Japanese Public School Customs

* Yearly Activities and Events in Japanese Public Schools