Choosing the right school for your children can be challenging. This is especially true for expats who may be new to the city. Online research and word of mouth can provide a lot of information, but some aspects of a school cannot be understood simply by reading their website. I recently visited Tokyo International School (TIS) and talked to General Affairs Manager Shuichi Anazawa about what makes TIS special.
1. Tell me about TIS’s atmosphere and educational aims.
An important characteristic of TIS is the importance we place on a sensible, casual atmosphere. For example, everyone—including the Japanese staff—addresses one another by first name. Another is the close interaction between teachers and students in a learning environment that makes it easy for students to ask for help. And we maintain a good atmosphere in which the principal and students can talk frankly. The current principal, Dan Reynolds, used to be a physical education teacher, and TIS places a good deal of emphasis on physical-activity clubs, as well as exchanges with other international schools. We’re also expanding, with a G9 (first year of high school) program starting in 2022.
2. Why do parents and students choose TIS?
First is the advantage of obtaining an International Baccalaureate education in the heart of Tokyo. Second is the attractive location. The school is situated in Minami-Azabu, Minato-ku, with the nearest subway stations being Shirokane-Takanawa and Azabu-Juban. Since the children are currently in junior high school, many parents choose a school close to their neighborhood in case something unexpected comes up.
3. How would you describe TIS’s locale?
The Shirokane-Takanawa area has the image of being a high-class neighborhood, but it can be considered a part of downtown Tokyo. There are quite a few embassies as well as offices of foreign companies nearby, but the area is also home to numerous long-term residents. They highly value community ties and courteous behavior.
4. How do students get to school?
Most of our students live in the wards of Minato, Shibuya, and Meguro. Forty percent ride the school bus, while others walk or ride their bicycle if their home is close enough. Seven school bus routes are presently in operation, and there are eight buses in total, including one being kept in reserve.
5. Why does TIS enjoy working with Ken Corporation?
Of the apartments currently under school contract, half are arranged through Ken Corporation as the broker. Ken is known for its strength in arranging for high-quality residences in the Tokyo metropolitan area, and is particularly strong in high-end rental apartments, many of which they manage directly. And the service level provided by sales staff tends to be more consistent than that of other companies.
In recent years, recruitment of high-quality teachers who will stay for a long time has become important. The quality of the housing provided to teachers (e.g., location, rent, floor plan, floor area, interior design, management services) is key to keeping these teachers motivated. This is especially true in mid-June and August, when school is out and teachers begin their search for housing. Because good properties tend to be snatched up quickly, it is easier to make recommendations by sharing information about new properties promptly and by providing details about facilities and amenities (e.g., library, exercise gym, high-speed internet access, resident custodian, free bicycle use) that may be difficult to determine through conventional search methods.
In the future, we would like to strengthen our partnership with Ken to provide high-quality services to TIS teachers.
6. What is your favorite thing about TIS?
I find it particularly rewarding that the work environment is open and everyone expresses their gratitude in a straightforward manner. Also, many of the children are independent minded and have good human relations skills.
About the school
Tokyo International School
- 2-13-6 Minami Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
- Language of instruction
- Age Range
- Ages 4 to 14
- Number of students
- Primary School
- K1, K2, G1 to G5
- Middle School
- G6 to G8
- High School
- ・Authorised by International Baccalaureate Organization
・Council of International Schools (CIS)
・New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
School Location and Residences in Vicinity