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There are two million expats in Japan, but luckily they’re not all heading to the relatively small number of international schools. Also, don’t forget an umbrella on the school run as it buckets down in the rainy season! 

Best schools in Tokyo Japan

Education in Tokyo 

International schools are highly regarded (sometimes even aspired to) in Japan. Locals think, compared to the local Japanese state schools, they represent a better education in English (true), foreign languages (true) and creative-thinking (mostly true).   

There are many good international school options in Tokyo. Most are based on either the English National Curriculum, IB PYP/ MYP/ DP or the American system and all will claim to weave in some amount of Japanese context, culture or language teaching into the student experience. The days of international schools being ‘expat bubbles’ where parents and teachers can claim that being in an international school in the middle of Tokyo is exactly like being in their village school back in England are gone. These days the international schools are likely to be packed with internationally-minded Japanese families, bicultural families or long-term Tokyo expats. The ‘we’re-on-our-first-posting-out’ expat family is likely to be in the minority. 

Schools in Tokyo are all compact so don’t expect wide playing fields. Where there are football pitches available, use generally has to be shared across students and year groups with them taking turns at different times of day or different days. The upside of being in such a dense city is that students can be commuting to school on their own even in primary years, with the city being well-connected by public transport and generally regarded as low-crime safe.  Proximity to school is handy for peace-of-mind in this earthquake-prone city.  

Choosing a school in Tokyo 

If you are committed to the National Curriculum for England from start to finish, then the British School in Tokyo is the obvious and only option. The school now has a senior campus in Showa and a primary in Shibuya but they have embarked on a truly stunning project (due to open in 2023) to build a tree-covered junior campus designed by the British architects, Thomas Heatherwick – delay having a baby, this will be, literally, the coolest school on the planet. The main problem for parents is the availability of places, especially in years 1 and 2: it is essential to register as soon as you know you are coming here. 

The ‘British education’ offering is set to broaden further with a few of the renown UK schools just starting up their Japan campuses on the outskirts of Tokyo or outside of Tokyo (with boarding facilities). 

If you are not wedded to the English curriculum the choice of American, Canadian and International Baccalaureate schools is very good as several have excellent facilities and pupil:staff ratios. 

Some Japanese private schools are starting to offer an English or dual language track leading up to international qualifications, usually the IBDP. A handful of local Tokyo schools also run ‘returnee’ programmes for Japanese children returning from overseas which foreign children can sometimes take advantage of.   

Sometimes families on a short-term work contract consider sending their children to local Japanese schools at preschool or elementary school level to pick up the language and culture. The results are not across-the-board positive. Children often survive well, the more successful ones make friends and learn to assimilate; even the less successful develop a thick-skin and resistance to ‘othering’. The parents may have a harder time – language aside, the processes for application are often bureaucratic and the expectations of parent participation may be more demanding than envisaged. 

Special education needs in Tokyo 

 Special education needs are increasingly gaining awareness and importance. Most of the established international schools have ramped up the intensity of their learning support over the years but it can still be difficult to get the same level of professional learning support in English as you would at home.      

Pre-schools, kindergarten and nurseries in Tokyo 

Popular choices include: ABC International School, set in a custom-built facility in expat enclave Moto Azabu. There are 150 students and 40 staff in bright, well-equipped classrooms. The 12 classes are divided into four age groups ranging from 15 months to seven years. Meanwhile the American School In Japan (ASIJ) Early Learning Centre, with 160 students, offers an American curriculum yet is quite universal. This Early Years centre has a very central location and beautiful buildings. Aoba – Japan International School in Meguro is co-ed, with 330 students aged 18 months to six years and acts as a kindergarten to the main school in Hikarigaoka.The Reggio School of Tokyo for children from 12 months to 6 years old offers a Reggio Emilia approach. 

At Willowbrook International School, classes are held in the mornings for children aged 18 months to 5 years with the option of extended day care in the afternoon. The school offers a Japanese/English Dual Immersion programme as well as the IB Primary Years Programme. Teaching is in English with Japanese lessons as well as nature, music, art, cooking and drama. 

Best schools in Tokyo 

American School in Japan (ASIJ)  

American curriculum/ American High School Diploma/ AP; ages 6-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 1,510 students

Founded in 1902 and now on a sprawling, state of the art campus in Chofu, outside central Tokyo, which includes a 570 seat theatre and a Japanese culture centre. Students are 50 per cent American or dual nationality but all study Japanese in elementary school. Three quarters of graduates head to America, with the remainder to Asia, Canada, UK and Europe and a small percentage remaining in Japan.  

Click here to read our full review of the American School in Japan, Chofu Campus

British School in Tokyo (The)  

National Curriculum for England/ IGCSE/ A level; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 1,100 students

The original school was opened by Margaret Thatcher in 1989 with a roll call of only 63 pupils. Now there is a junior school for 350 on the Shibuya campus and about 620 students aged 9-18 study at the purpose-built (2017) Showa campus.  

Click here to read our full review of the British School in Tokyo

International School of the Sacred Heart  

IPC/adapted middle school curriculum/AP and US High School Diploma; ages 3-5; co-ed, ages 6-18; girls only; day; independent; private non-profit; 550 students

A Catholic, all-girls day school in the heart of downtown Tokyo. Admits a small number of boys in the kindergarten (3, 4 and 5 year olds) but from grade 1 and above is girls-only. Founded in 1908 as part of the Network of Sacred Heart Schools affiliated with schools and institutions in 44 countries.  

Click here to read our full review of the International School of the Sacred Heart, Tokyo

Nishimachi International School  

Adapted curriculum; ages 5-15; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 370 students

Founded in central Tokyo, 60 years ago as an international bilingual school, offering classes taught in English but with all students studying Japanese from day one. The majority of graduates move on to, either the American School in Japan or the Yokohama International School.  

Click here to read our full review of the Nisimachi International School

Phoenix House International School 

National Curriculum for England Used In Conjunction With an Adapted Curriculum; ages 5-11; co-ed; day; Independent; privately owned 

Opened as a prep school feeder to Rugby School Japan but also sends children far and wide for secondary (including to the UK). As close to a British prep school experience as you will find in Tokyo.

Click here to read our full review of Phoenix House International School

Seisen International School  

Montessori/ PYP/ adapted curriculum/ IGCSE (art & design, music)/ IB Diploma; ages 3-18; co-ed (kindergarten), girls; day; independent; private non-profit; 650 students

Catholic, girls only school with a co-ed Montessori kindergarten. Japanese language and culture introduced into the curriculum from the start. Students come from roughly 30 per cent Japan/Asia, thirty per cent UK/Europe and 40 per cent US/Canada. International Baccalaureate Diploma average scores are 3 points above the global figure and approximately half go to university in America.  

Click here to read our full review of the Seisen International School

Tokyo International School (TIS)

PYP/ MYP; ages 4-14; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 370 students

Moved its location to Minami-Azabu in central Tokyo in 2013. It is an Apple Distinguished School which means all have iPads or Macbooks. Expanding into a state-of-the-art new campus at Takanawa Gateway City in 2026. 

Click here to read our full review of the Tokyo International School (TIS)

These schools have been brought to our attention, but until we have more reports from parents, we are unable to consider reviewing them.

Aoba – Japan International School Hikarigaoka

PYP/ MYP/ IB Diploma; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 330 students

90 per cent of the students are Japanese but lessons taught in English. However, Japanese language classes are taught every day. School bus. Uniform. Graduates have been accepted by top universities in the UK. 

Canadian International School Tokyo

PYP/ adapted Canadian curriculum/ Canadian High School Diploma/ AP; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 330 students

Coming up for its 20th anniversary having grown from 50 students to over 300. Teachers are predominantly Canadian and students Japanese, with the remainder of the latter from 25 different nationalities. Unsurprisingly, the majority of graduates head off to university in Canada or the US with a minority going to Korea and Australia or staying in Japan. 

Columbia International School

Ontario curriculum; Ontario High School Diploma (OSSD); ages 6-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 270 students

The first of two international schools in Tokyo to offer a Canadian education. Rigorous academic programme and diploma accepted by top global schools. Established in 1997. 

Global Indian International School Tokyo 

IB Primary Years Programme/ Cambridge Lower Secondary Programme/ IGCSE/ IB Diploma/ CBSE/ IB Bridge Programme; day; co-ed; 3-18; Independent: privately owned; 3 campuses - Nishi Kasai, Higashi Kasai, Seishincho 

GREGG International School

Adapted curriculum; ages 1-12 ; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 120 students

Longstanding kindergarten and primary, founded as an English language school 50 years ago, with an international emphasis since 1986. The kindergarten goes under the charming name of the ‘Duckling’ class and the classrooms are cheerful and attractive, let down a little by a somewhat uninspiring exterior.

International French School of Tokyo 

French National Curriculum/ Bac/ Brevet/ OIB; French English bilingual classes in primary; co-ed; day; 3-18 years old; 1450 students 

K International School

PYP/ MYP/ IB Diploma; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 660 students

Established over 20 years ago, with a kindergarten opened in 2014. Teaching the International Baccalaureate programme with extremely impressive IB Diploma results (top school in Japan for the last five years and recently ranked 12th in the world). Accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS). Students from over 40 nationalities (high percentage of students with dual nationality) with just over a quarter US passport holders.

Malvern College Tokyo 

Opening in September 2023 as the 10th addition to the British-based Malvern College family of schools and aiming to be an IB all through school. Located in Kodaira, a 40-minute commute outside of Tokyo city centre. 

Montessori School of Tokyo (The)

Montessori; ages 2-15; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 170 students

In its third decade and now expanded from the original kindergarten format into offering education for older children up to the age of fifteen. This makes it Japan’s first Montessori middle school. Instruction is in English and it is a fully accredited Montessori school.

New International School of Japan

Adapted curriculum; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 250 students

Small, bilingual (Japanese/English) school, established in 2001. Catering for mainly Japanese speaking students. Accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA).

Rugby School Japan 

Adapated National Curriculum for England/ IGCSE/ A level; ages 11-18; co-ed; day and boarding; Independent: private non-profit 

Slated to open in Kashiwanoha in Chiba Prefecture, about 30 mins outside of central Tokyo, in September 2023, Rugby School Japan will be a day and boarding offshoot of the British boarding school. 

Shinagawa International School

PYP/ MYP authorised - DP candidate: ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 400 students

Founded in 2007, offering an International Baccalaureate PYP/MYP based education  (now applying for DP authorisation), with an intake, limited to a maximum of 25% of students from any one nationality.The school got CIS membership in November 2022. Also offering a summer school.

St. Mary’s International School

Adapted American curriculum/ American High School Diploma/ IB Diploma; ages 4-18; boys; day; independent; private non-profit; 900 students

International, Catholic (students do not have to be practising Catholics) boys only school, founded in 1954. Located on an eco-friendly, solar powered, nine acre site, totally rebuilt in 2010. Boys from over 50 nationalities. Sports much encouraged and the boys are known for their sporting prowess, particularly in athletics and swimming. Accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

Tokyo YMCA International School

Adapted American curriculum; ages 4-14; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 200 students

Small school which is sparing with its information. Added a grade 7 class in 2016 and a grade 8 in 2017.

Boarding schools outside of Tokyo 


Rugby School of Japan

Iwate Prefecture 

Harrow International School Appi 

Adapted National Curriculum for England/ IGCSE/ A level; ages 11-18; co-ed; boarding; Independent: private non-profit 

A co-ed, full-boarding offshoot of the famous Harrow School in the UK and set in a stunning location amongst the mountains and nature of Iwate Prefecture. High achieving students are encouraged to excel in both academics and outdoor activities here.  

Hiroshima Prefecture 

Jinseki International School 

International Primary Curriculum/ Japanese curriculum; ages 6-13; 144 students; co-ed; Independent: privately owned 

Open since 2020, Japan’s first full-boarding primary school has a huge campus on a hill top in the Hiroshima prefecture where students can also get stuck in to a super farming programme in the school’s traditional Japanese gardens and vegetable farm. 


UWC ISAK Japan  

IB Diploma; ages 15-18; co-ed; boarding; Independent: private non-profit 

The 17th member of the United World Colleges movement around the world, UWC ISAK is Japan’s only full-boarding international high school offering a three year programme to IB Diploma. Also runs a two-week summer school for ages 13-14.  

Click here to read our full review of UWC ISAK Japan

For more information on the schools above, please go to each school’s individual entry on the Good Schools Guide international search.


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