International Schools in Hokkaido and Sapporo
For some families moving to Hokkaido, sending children to an English-speaking school may be part of transitioning to life in Japan. There is basically one international school in Hokkaido, and a few other options for English-language education. In this post we will share some information on English-language K-12 schooling in Hokkaido.
Japanese is Required at Most Public Japanese Schools
Public school in Hokkaido is taught in Japanese.
While all public school children are taught some English as a part of their general education, all other subjects are taught in Japanese. Japanese is considered a “Category V” language, meaning it is one of the most difficult languages for English speakers to learn (along with Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, and few others).
While many children can learn languages more quickly than adults, your child may need to attend an international school in Hokkaido before they transition to public school.
International Schools in Hokkaido
Hokkaido is a big island, and while there is some English-language education in Hokkaido, the best opportunity is located in Sapporo (the largest city in Hokkaido), along with a smaller school in Niseko that is mostly focused on elementary school education.
International Schools in Sapporo
Sapporo is the largest city in Hokkaido, with approximately 2 million people. There are many public schools, but only one English-language international school in Sapporo for K-12 children:
Hokkaido International School
Ages: 3- 18 years old
1-55, 5jo19 chome, Hiragishi, Toyohira-ku Sapporo, Japan 062-0935
Hokkaido International School (HIS) is located in Toyohira-ku, in the southeast part of Sapporo. If living close to your childrens’ school is important, a local English-speaking agent in Sapporo can help you rent a Sapporo apartment near the school, or perhaps buy a house in Sapporo near the school. Hokkaido International School offers some bus service from Toyohira-ku and from the Maruyama neighborhood in Chuo-ku (a local real estate agent can help you confirm that as well). For introductions to real estate agents that speak English and can help find housing appropriate for access to the international school in Sapporo, contact us any time.
International Schools in Niseko
Niseko is a world-famous ski town, about two hours south of Sapporo. When the shinkansen line to Hokkaido is completed in 2030, Niseko will be accessible from Sapporo Station in about 30 minutes.
While all of Hokkaido has truly beautiful scenery and outdoor opportunities, Niseko is especially well known internationally. Compared to the rest of Hokkaido, there are large concentrations of Australians in Niseko. There is also heavy foreign investment in Niseko real estate, including many buyers from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Asian countries beyond Japan.
There is one English-language international school in Niseko, but it’s mostly kindergarten through sixth grade, with some education available for seven, eighth and ninth grade (in shared classrooms):
Hokkaido International School Niseko
Ages: 3 – 11 years old
12 Aza Fujimi, Niseko-cho, Abuta-gun, Japan 048-1501
There are many English-language services in Niseko. For help with real estate agents in Niseko, legal help with businesses or company formation, or tax accountants in Hokkaido, please contact us for an introduction.
Special Kindergarten and After School Classes in English
In addition to traditional K-12 education, there are some other educational resources that may be suitable for some students; these are kindergarten and afterschool classes that serve primarily Japanese students, where instruction in English is a focus (or in some cases, all conversation is in English).
For example, there is an mostly English-language kindergarten in Sapporo:
ISK Sapporo International School Kindergarten
1-25, Toyohira 4-13, Toyohiraku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
There is also a kindergarten and afterschool program in Maruyama (Chou-ku, Sapporo) where English is used in the classroom.
Tokyo International School Sapporo Maruyama Kindergarten and Afterschool
1F Villeneuve Maruyama, South2 West19 291-6, Chuo-ku
Sapporo Hokkaido, Japan
And finally, there are some additional after school programs that offer “English immersion” that might provide some options for English-speaking child care in Hokkaido.
Living Close to School
While it may surprise people from other countries, it is a part of the culture of Japan that Japanese children often commute to school alone, either walking, taking public transportation, or both. Japan is traditionally safe, and even small children are often seen going to and from school on their own.
If you are thinking of enrolling your child in an international school in Sapporo, you could work with a local real estate agent to find a property for you near the international school and confirm transportation opportunities.
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For More Information:
— Our Taxes in Japan page
— Our Guide to Buying a House in Hokkaido
— How to Find a Hokkaido Real Estate Agent
— Buying Property in Hokkaido as a Foreigner
— Find Lawyers in Hokkaido
— Tax Offices in Sapporo