The School System

Information on the education system in Japan, from pre-primary to higher education, as well as information about the academic year…

The first six years of compulsory education (gimukyoiku) are spent in elementary school (shougakkou) and a further three years in junior high school (chuugakkou). A child must be six years old by 1 April in the year they are to start elementary school. Compulsory education is free at state schools.

High school (koukou) education lasts for a further three years and both public and private high schools are fee paying. It is not compulsory, although almost all Japanese children attend. Non-mandatory pre-school education, or kindergarten, is available from the age of three.

Further and Higher Education

There are five types of tertiary education offered in Japan:

  • College of Technology or Kosen: five years (an advanced course involves an extra two years). For information from the Institute of National Colleges of Technology: Click here
  • Vocational School (specialised training colleges): more than one year depending on the type of course chosen
  • Junior College: two years
  • University: four years
  • Graduate School: two years

The School Year

For most Japanese schools, the school year starts in April. Schools have three terms with spring, summer and winter holidays:

  • Term One - April to July
  • Term Two - September to December
  • Term Three - January to March

The length of school holidays differs slightly from region to region. For example, in Hokkaido there is a shorter summer holiday and longer winter holiday because their winters are long.

International schools often have the same term system used in their home country.