Contents > Elementary and Junior High Schools in Japan > 1.Elementary and Junior High Schools in Japan

1. Elementary and Junior High Schools in Japan

Schooling obligations

Foreign nationals can attend school just as Japanese nationals

  • The obligation to go to school only applies to Japanese nationals and not to foreign nationals living in Japan.
  • However, children have the right to enter Japanese public elementary and junior high schools if they want to receive an education.
  • Notifications about schooling will be sent by the city hall to foreign nationals who have children of schooling age.

Schooling age

It is impossible to enter school before the set schooling age.

  • The schooling age in Japan is set at 6 years of age. Children who have turned 6 prior to the entrance date will be able to enter school when the next school year begins. Therefore, children born on or before April 2nd will enter school on the following April 1st, with all the other children born before that date.
  • Children of foreign nationals cannot enter Japanese elementary schools if they are not at least 6 years old.

School year

The school year starts on April 1st and ends on March 31st.

  • In many countries the school year starts in September and ends the following August. This causes confusion to some people sending their children to school in Japan.
    JapanHeisei24   Start        
    Hesei25   2nd grade        
    Others2012        Start   
    2013        2nd grade   
    <For example>
    John graduated grade 1 in August 2012 and came to Japan. In September, he would enter grade 2 if he were at home but in Japan he would be entering grade 2 in the middle of the school year with 5 months of the curriculum already covered. This is the reason for postponement until the next school year.

It is possible to enter a lower grade. In the last example, John would be able to enter into either grade 2 or grade 1.

 However, it is impossible to receive recognition for the completion of studies in the middle of the school year and be promoted to the next grade. It is impossible to skip grades after being admitted to a grade. It is possible for students admitted to grade 2 to study with 1st graders, until they acclimate to school life, then resume study with their 2nd grade class. However, each case should be discussed individually as there are many factors that may elicit exceptions.

Lastly, the decided grade level will be determined by discussions between the guardians, the school, and the Board of Education.

Schooling fees and textbooks

The same rules apply for Japanese nationals and foreign nationals in public elementary and junior high schools. Schooling is free and textbooks are also provided free of charge. Schooling support measures are also the same. However, various school fees and school lunch costs are still collected in amounts that vary from school to school.

Long vacations

Schools in Yamagata City have either three semesters or two semesters.

  • Most of the elementary and junior high schools in Japan follow the 3-semester system; however, some schools follow the 2-semester system. This is because municipalities decide the number of semesters.
  • Summer vacation marks the end of the first and beginning of the second semester. Winter vacation (or the year-end vacation) is between the second and third semester. Spring vacation is between the third semester and the new school year in April. Each school decides the beginning and end of the vacation periods. Both schools on the 2-semester system and on the 3-semester system have a summer vacation, winter vacation, and spring vacation.

5-day school week

As of 2002, all schools have classes 5 days a week, from Monday to Friday. There are no classes on Saturdays and Sundays, however club activity practices may be held.


Elementary School


 1st & 2nd

 3rd & 4th

 5th & 6th

Social Studies ○○
Science ○○
Lifestyle ○  
Home Economics     ○ 
Physical Education ○○○
Ethics ○○○
Integrated Studies  ○○
Special Activities
(Class Activities, Club Activities)
Foreign Language Activities     ○ 
Junior High School(All grades)


Social Studies





Health & Physical Education

Technical Arts & Home Economics

Foreign language


Integrated Studies

Option Class

Special Activities

School reports and health reports

Schools will notify families of their child's conduct and condition through school reports and health reports.

  • The school will provide reports on the three following matters at the end of every semester: Learning, School Life, and Condition of Health. Means of distribution and the number of reports will vary according to each school.