Founded in 1902, this is the oldest and best-known international school in Japan. The American School in Japan (ASIJ) is also academically strong, with a US-style curriculum, and puts sustainability at the top of its agenda.
ASIJ is split across two campuses. The main one is in Chofu, west of central Tokyo, and is for all years from kindergarten to Grade 12 (elementary is kindergarten to Grade 5, middle school is Grades 6 to 8 and high school is Grades 9 to 12).
There is a second campus for the early learning centre (nursery, pre-kindergarten and another kindergarten class) in Tokyo’s Roppongi district. This purpose-built campus, which opened in 2004, includes a library, a music room, a community room and a playground with a bicycle track and climbing frames. Although it’s in the heart of Roppongi, children have outdoor space to learn and play, plus access to nearby Robot Park.
The subway stops for Roppongi Hills are Azabu-Juban or Roppongi Station.
Softly spoken and gentle, American Jim Hardin has been at ASIJ since 2017. His teaching career has included stints in Colorado, Scotland and, most recently, Dubai, where he was superintendent of the Dubai American Academy. His wife teaches in the elementary school.
Early learning centre director Christy Carrillo – who is also American – joined ASIJ in 2017. She was previously director of an early learning centre at an international school in China.
Admissions open 12 months before the following academic year. For kindergarten, families need to note which campus they would like their child to attend. At least one parent must be fluent in English.
Teaching at the early learning centre is informed by the Reggio Emilia Approach. SEN is offered to those with mild learning needs, and a speech and language therapist is available.
Children in the early learning centre do kamishibai (illustrated storytelling). There are 16 after school co-curricular activities on offer including hula dancing!
There are 57 nationalities in the school, with most pupils holding US passports. After a 1970s sex-abuse scandal that only came to light in the past decade, safeguarding and pastoral care are now a priority.
Parents automatically belong to the PTA and can take part in classroom volunteering, as well as helping out in the library and on school trips. A high-school parent tells us: ‘One of the things we love about ASIJ is how easy it is to get involved.’
There is no uniform at ASIJ (a rarity in Japan), but pupils must follow the recommended dress-code policy.
The cafeteria offers hot food and snacks, or lunch can be brought in from home.
This is considered one of Japan’s most elite international schools.