The Japanese education system consists overall of six years of elementary school, three years of junior high school, three years of high school and four years of university (or two years of junior college).
Every child must enter and graduate from an elementary school and a junior high school, as this is compulsory education. Compulsory education is an obligation for Japanese citizens. However, children of age six to 15 with foreign citizenship may enter or transfer to local elementary schools or junior high schools with same expenses as Japanese citizens, regardless of their nationality. Looking ahead to your child’s future, it is highly desirable for your child to be entered/transferred into a school. Please consult the municipal administrative office in the area where you reside.
Most students in Japan go on to study at high schools and then universities. To be admitted into a high school or a university, applicants must take an entrance examination.
There are kindergartens for children under school age. There are also specialized training schools and miscellaneous schools basically for junior high school and high school graduates which teach them the skills and knowledge necessary for a vocation. For children with disabilities there are also schools that provide special needs education.
National/public schools and private schools
Schools are categorized into three types according to the management jurisdiction. National schools are run by the national government, public schools are run by local municipalities, and private schools are run by incorporated educational institutions.
Entry into public elementary schools and junior high schools as a general principle is determined according to the school district that students live in, and an entrance exam is not required, whereas students who wish to enter a private school must pass an entrance exam.
School year, terms, and vacations
A school year in Japan begins in April and ends in the following March.
In most schools there are three terms in a school year.
The first term is from April to July, the second term is from September to December and the third term is from January to March. Each term is followed by a vacation: around 40 days of summer vacation, and two weeks of winter vacation and spring vacation respectively.
*In some schools, a school year may consist of two terms. In such cases, the first term is from April to September and the second term is from October to March. Apart from summer vacation, winter vacation and spring vacation, four to six days of autumn vacation are also given between the two terms by some schools.
This video is based on material from CLAIR’s “Multilingual Living Information (http://www.clair.or.jp/tagengo/)”.