Aug 16

Japanese Boarding Schools

School Facade

First, it would be helpful to define what a boarding school is. The definition of “boarding school” is sometimes thought of as a private school with a dormitory. And yet, despite the fact that there are a number of private Japanese schools in Japan with dormitories, it is occasionally claimed that Japan has no boarding schools. Not in the sense of a “traditional boarding school” in the vein of Eton College, the Elite Eight, or any of the Top US Boarding Schools like Choate or Groton.

The first exclusive boarding school in Japan didn’t come about until Kaiyo Academy was established in 2006 by Toyota’s former president. Kaiyo Academy is an all-boys and boarding-only (all students are boarders) school in the sense that the boarding-in factor is part of the overall educational package that focuses on developing personality, character, as well as the boarding school environment and atmosphere.

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With over 900 applicants vying for the 120 spots at Kaiyo Academy in its first year, the school reached the level of “elite boarding school” in a short amount of time.

It’s still unclear whether there are any other prestigious Japanese boarding schools in Japan.

If we use a less narrow meaning of the term, there are several international schools in Japan as well as Japanese private schools that provide boarding facilities.

For instance, as a prominent private school with dorm accommodations, Linden Hall Elementary School in Daizafu, Fukuoka, is worth mentioning because it draws heavily from the esteemed Linden Hall School in Pennsylvania, founded in 2004 by Nobel laureate Leo Esaki.

Another example of a Japanese boarding school is Meitokugijuku High School. Dormitory housing is a feature of many private schools, both elite and non-elite.

Private Japanese bilingual AICJ Junior & Senior High School in Hiroshima, offers boarding facilities for both boys and girls, as well as an IB program.

One unique example is Kumon Kokusai Gakuen and Kumon Leysin Academy of Switzerland (KLAS), sometimes known as Kumon Academy. This Japanese private boarding school has campuses in Yokohama and Leysin, Switzerland. The Kumon Gakuen Educational Foundation established the prep school in 1990. For grades 10 through 12, the school focuses on preparing students for universities in Japan and the West. KLAS is accredited by the European Council of International Schools, the Swiss Service de la Protection de la Jeunesse, and the Department Sociale et des Assurances (ECIS). Mombu-Kagaku Sho, the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, and Science and Technology, has also granted KLAS accreditation as an overseas educational institution. As a result, after graduation, the students become eligible for admission to Japanese universities.

Toin Gakuen in Yokohama (but close to Tokyo) also engages in some boarding. Although they board kids, this Japanese school is rather orthodox. It is well known for being disciplined and for baseball. 

There are numerous boarding schools in Japan. One of these is Gyosei International School in the prefecture of Chiba, which offers three different high school program options. One of these, the Yohane Kenkyu no Mori program, is multi-age, encompassing grades 4 through 12, and I’ve visited it (about 80 students). That was modeled after the Edo period, which was before Japan imported the age-grade system from Prussia. The kids write and research a lot, and they can apply to Japanese colleges via the AO (Admissions Office) process, but I’d say the living conditions and schedules are rather basic. The other two programs are more traditional, but one of them allows kids to study a significant amount of English.

In addition to the ones mentioned above, the Foundation for the International School of Asia, Karuizawa has declared its aim to open an IB international boarding school that is completely operational by 2012. Visit this website for more information on the school.