Japanese Educational System


 You are about to go back to school (if you are student), aren’t you? So, let’s talk about Japanese educational system today! 

 First, as you see on the picture above, Kindergartens are NOT included in “official education” in Japan. Yes, there are tons of kindergartens in Japan, where over 90% of parents register their children at the age of 3 or 4. However, they are treated differently from other schools in Japanese educational system.

 New school year starts early April, lasting until next March. One school year consists of 3 trimesters (April to late July, September to late December, and January to late March). Unless you chose to go to private schools, you are AUTOMATICALLY REGISTERED AT YOUR NEAREST SCHOOL. All six-year-olds will receive the postcards from the local governments (cut-off time is the 31st of March every year), and the special day is set for them to attend their Nyuugakushiki (The Entrance Ceremony). On the day, all 6-year-olds with their parents attend the ceremony with their very best clothes or kimonos. The day is that special! Now your 6-year-old embarked on the journey of Japanese educational system. Therefore, they are called “1 (Ichi) Nensei.”

 Unlike American’s counterpart, grades are called depending on which school level you are in.


 “Which grade are you in?” – “10th grade.”


 “Nannennseidesuka.” – “Kookoo 1(Ichi) Nensei (10th grade in Japan) desu.”

 Elementary school (Sho Gakko) education lasts 6 years, middle school (Chu Gakko) 3, High School (Kookoo or Koto Gakko) 3, and College 4. All middle school students have to take the entrance exam to get into high schools at their academic levels. Straight A students go to A schools, B students to B schools, and so on. That’s why Japanese students who try to get in colleges or universities in US have hard time to show their “HIGH GPA” because even A students struggle among all other A students after getting in A schools. So as in prominent colleges in Japan. They are all good. How can you stand out among them? This is the part Americans don’t usually understand. Japanese academic environment is excellent due to their educational system, but because of the difference students who used to be straight A students up to middle schools have hard time to show their academic excellence in college admission in US.

 By the way, once you are in Japanese educational system, your status is recognized according to the chart above.

 Shogaku 1 Nensei – 6 Nensei; Chugaku 1 Nensei – 3 Nensei; Kookoo 1 Nensei – 3 Nensei; and Daigaku 1 Nensei – 4 Nensei. Also, there are always celemonies of entrance and graduation at the end of each school. Like I said above, Chugaku 3 Nensei and KooKoo 3 Nensei are very sensitive because they are preparing for high school and college entrance exams. Their families in the same situation. They are specially called “Jukensei (High School or College candidates)” and treated accordingly.

 If you are students, try to say which grade you are in in Japanese way! Can you?