Japan Education System: Know All About It!

7 minute read
Japan Education System

Counted amongst the most educated and productive countries in the world, Japan is an awe-inspiring nation that carries a seamless amalgamation of the rich culture with high-end technology. Being the third-largest economy in the world, the Asian country has contributed a major portion of its GDP to improve education and boost research and development activities. Another thing that makes stand out from all the other countries is the education system of Japan. From its age-specific curriculum to laying focus on extracurricular development, Japan education system can be counted amongst the countries with the best education system in the world. Thus, in this blog, we will shed light on various aspects pertaining to the Japan education system and why studying in the country can be an amazing idea. 

Education System in Japan

The Japan education system uses a traditional approach to educate the students and impart the necessary skills and knowledge. The table below incorporates the structure of the Japanese education system with the respective age groups: 

Education LevelSub-LevelDURATION (in years)AGE (in years)
PrimaryNursery (Yōchien)
Elementary school (Shōgakkō)
63 to 6
6 to 12
SecondaryLower Secondary (Chūgakkō)
Upper Secondary (Kōkō)
12 to 15
15 to 18
HigherUniversity (Daigaku)2-418+

How Japan Stands Out in Education System?

Here are some of the major Japan Education System facts to make you understand what makes Japan stand out in Education System:

  • Japanese education focus more on quality over quantity.
  • According to a study, 85% of the students in Japan are happy in school.
  • Elementary School and Junior High School /Lower Secondary School are mandatory in Japan.
  • Japan ranks among the top-performing OECD countries in reading literacy, mathematics and sciences.
  • According to a study, around 91% of the students in Japan claim that they do not ignore lectures given by their teachers.
  • Japan is considered one of the safest countries in the world to study for international students.
  • Many Japanese students attend After-school workshops to develop other skills than academic education only.
  • Punctuality is taken very seriously in Japan, so students are rarely late to the class. According to PISA 2012, students in Japan do not skip their classes.
  • Students in almost all junior high schools in Japan are made to wear school uniforms.

Japan Education System: Primary Education (Grade 1 to 6)

Children who are 3 years of age attend preschool or what is famously known as kindergarten. Here, children are encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities like dancing, singing, drawing, etc. After attaining the age of 6, the Japan education system makes it compulsory for all the children to be admitted into elementary schools to attain primary education over the span of 6 years, or until they turn 12 years. During this phase, the students are taught basic reading and writing techniques, Japanese language and literature, and subjects like Science, Mathematics, Social Science, Physical Education, Arts, Music, Moral Education, etc. 

Secondary education (Grades 7 to 12)

Succeeding primary education comes the secondary level in the Japan education system. This structure is further divided into 2 levels namely, Lower Secondary/Junior High and Upper Secondary/High school. The details of which have been listed below: 

  • The Lower Secondary education spans for a period of 3 years, constituting grades 7 to 9 and is for students aged between 12 to 15 years. The results in this level of Japenese education system depend on whether the students would gain access to a good upper secondary level and fruitful career or not. In comparison to the primary level, the pupils gain advanced knowledge of topics in various subjects like social studies, mathematics, science, fine arts, physical education, foreign languages, etc. 
  • Just like the lower secondary level, the upper secondary or High School imparts education to students 15 years and below 18 years of age. This stage of the Japan education system constitutes grades 10 to 12, so the curriculum is inclined more towards specializations like the Science stream, Commerce stream, etc. The students are provided with a platform to acquaint themselves with knowldege pertaining to subjects of their choice like Business, Information Technology, Accounting, Fish Farming, and many other fields. 

Note: Although the Upper Secondary level of education is not compulsory, attending Junior High/Lower Secondary School is mandatory for every student in Japan. This means that a student must attend at least 9 years of schooling. 

Japan Education System: Higher Education

As discussed above, the Japan Education system provides does not mandate availing high school education to its students. But those who wish to continue with higher studies can enroll in the course of their choice in universities after completing their secondary education through entrance exams. With more than 700 universities offering programs across disciplines like Engineering, Business, Law, Humanities, Education, etc. the students are provided with an array of options to choose from in different types of educational institutions which have been listed below:

  • University (Undergraduate): 

The students can opt for undergraduate courses in various national, public, and private universities. These bachelor-level programs normally span over a period of 4 years except for those in Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, and Veterinary Science, which require 6 years of study.

  • Professional/Specialized Training Colleges

Aimed to upskill the students who want to pursue a particular career, these types of institutions provide one or two years courses that aim to enhance the skills of the students in a particular field.

  • Junior Colleges

Students enrolled in junior colleges are taught various concepts related to subjects such as Humanities, Home Economics, Nursing, Education, and Sociology. Depending on the department, the duration of studies in these colleges ranges between 2 to 3 years.

  • Colleges of Technology

Colleges of Technology, which form an essential part of the Japan education system, are specially designed to impart knowledge in professional fields like Engineering Merchant Shipping, and other related fields of study. The students who pass their junior college or high school are eligible to apply for the courses offered by these educational institutes. The programs here run for a period of five years or five and a half years in some cases.

  • Graduate School

The Japan education system offers an opportunity for students to gain advanced knowledge through graduate schools. After completing their undergraduate programs, the students can opt for various master and doctoral-level courses in the field of their choice in these institutes. Generally, the master’s studies last for 2 years and the doctoral level courses span over 5 years or so. 

Also read: MBBS in Japan

Special Features of Japanese Education

  • In OECD’s Programs for International Student Assessment (PISA) organized specifically for fifteen-year-olds, Japanese students recorded high levels of achievement, particularly in the field of science.
  • English is a mandatory subject in junior high and high schools. There are some elementary schools that introduce English education from intermediate grade classes. In some high schools in Japan, apart from English, students are also permitted to take courses in other languages such as Chinese, Korean, French and German.
  • Student clubs play a major part in Japan’s school education. Under teachers’ guidance, students with the same interests can take part in sports, cultural activities, or study voluntarily together after classes and on days off.

Japan Education System: Academic Calendar

Have you seen those cute Japanese cartoons, especially Shinchan, which often feature the gorgeous season of ‘Cherry Blossom’ in their episodes? If yes, then this will help you understand the Japan education system well. Both the business and the academic calendars start from the month of April and end in March, which also happens to be the season of cherry blossom. Most of the Japanese schools adopt the tri semester academic calendar where:

  • The first semester commences in April and continues till August.
  • The second semester starts in September and ends in December.
  • While the third semester runs between January and March.

Exchange Programs

The student exchange programs form an integral part of the Japan education system. Offered in various schools and other educational institutes, the Japanese students are sent to the university in a foreign country for study purposes for a period of not more than a year. The main objective behind these programs is to provide the necessary exposure to the students in terms of gaining knowledge and learning about various cultures and languages. 

Best Universities in Japan

The higher level of Japan education system opens the doors for students to pursue advanced education. The universities in Japan impart knowledge in the field of their choice through a comprehensive curriculum and inculcate moral values. Enlisted below are some of the top-ranked universities which you can consider:

The Japan education system is known for its well-crafted syllabus and the values it inculcates amongst the students. This has made the Asian nation a preferred overseas education destination for international students.


What kind of education system does Japan have?

The Japanese education system consists of six years of elementary school, three years of middle school, three years of high school, and three years of university (four years). Only the first nine years of elementary and middle school are required, although 98.8% of students continue on to high school.

What is Japan ranked in education?

While educational levels differ by country, there is a definite link between the quality of a country’s educational system and its overall economic standing and well-being. The Japanese educational system is ranked seventh in the world.

Is the Japanese education system good?

Japan has one of the best-educated populations in the world because of its excellent educational system (with 100% enrollment in compulsory grades and zero illiteracy).

Is education free in Japan?

Even for foreign students, tuition at public elementary and secondary schools is free. However, you will be responsible for some expenses such as lunches, school supplies, uniforms, and PTA contributions. Your student’s school should provide a full list of everything they require.

If you are planning to study in Japan but need guidance in the admission process then the experts at Leverage Edu will not only assist you in selecting the most suitable course but will also complete the admission-related formalities. 

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    1. Hi Suman!

      Please contact our experts at 1800572000 and know all about the application process for fine arts in Japan! Thank you for reaching out to us!