Location: Rippongi and Chofu, Tokyo
Student body: 1,450 students from nursery through 12th grade
About the School
The American School in Japan was founded in 1902 by a group of women who wanted to start a school for the increasingly large foreign community in Japan. Originally known as the Tokyo School for Foreign Children, the school was located in a YMCA. Later, the school moved to a permanent home and survived the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. Shuttered during the war years, the school reopened in 1946 and was transferred to a new campus in the Chofu neighborhood of Tokyo in 1963. Today, the school educates 1,400 students from over 40 countries.
The curriculum is based on the American model and offers Advanced Placement classes. Students tend to score well on these exams. The 150 faculty members represent 10 nationalities; 65% of the faculty have advanced degrees. The school’s mission reads as follows: “developing Compassionate, Inquisitive Learners Prepared for Global Responsibility.” To this end, the school emphasizes learning about global cultures, and even students in the Lower School use the Internet to conduct research and to keep in touch with their international pen pals. Middle School students use the internet to write musical scores with other students in Europe. Many dignitaries have visited the campus over the years, including President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell.
The school also embraces Japanese culture and language, and it offer 50 differentiated levels of Japanese language instruction for students who are new to the language and for those who have greater familiarity. Students in the nursery school and the pre-k and kindergarten classes take field trips and learn about Japanese culture to get ready to learn the language, and students in grades 1-12 learn the language. Students who achieve a high degree of mastery can take the AP exam in Japanese Language and Culture and can take classes in Japanese. Courses include Japan Studies and Japanese Literature in Translation. Students can also take language classes in Chinese, French, and Spanish. Older students prepare a traditional Japanese comic theater performance with professional actors, and students have exchange visits with Japanese students. Though the school is not designed for bilingual students or to help students enter Japanese universities, some students are bilingual.
The school offers over 100 extra-curricular activities, including sumo wrestling, tae kwon do, Habitat for Humanity, Gay-Straight Student Alliance, robotics, and more. Students play 16 inter-scholastic sports with other international school and U.S. military schools in sports such as basketball, American soccer, field hockey, and wrestling. The school’s facilities include an indoor pool, three gyms, four tennis courts, and two playing fields.
The school’s two campuses also include playgrounds, a library with over 32,000 books and many Japanese titles (and libraries in the other divisions), and over 900 computers. The Chofu campus is surrounded by Nogawa Park. There is also a 420-seat theater. The strikingly designed Elementary School is shaped like a donut. A separate Early Learning Center has educated children ages 3-6 since it opened in 1953. The school program, taught in English, is for students in nursery school, pre-k, and kindergarten.
Graduates attend strong colleges and universities in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, Japan. Twenty-three percent of graduates attend non-U.S. colleges. Recent graduates have attended Ivy League colleges and other top-flight schools such as Johns Hopkins, MIT, and Duke; Canadian schools such as McGill and University of Toronto; British schools such as Cambridge, University of Glasgow, and London School of Economics; and Japanese universities such as Sophia University and Waseda University; and other international colleges such as Parsons School of Design in Paris and Melbourne University in Australia.