Baby nursery, Childcare, Hoikuen

Looking for a Hoikuen (Nursery School) in Japan – Round 2

My baby didn’t get into Hoikuen (authorized Nursery School) :(! The letter just arrived on the weekend. There were 4,986 applicants for only 2,395 available spaces in Setagaya-ku. So only half the kids could get in!

Here is some advice from readers of Tokyo Urban Baby in response to my post on FB:

“I went through that last year. If you want to go back to work then you should go and make some noise and insist at the Kuyakusho. You’ll be applying for the “niji shins” (second round) and for that you need to show up very often at the Kuyakusho.” – Soundous

“Keep re-applying (a pain). If you have to go private, I can highly recommend the Kids World branches.” – Lowly

“Sorry to hear that Kate! I hope it works out for you. It is the same here in Fukuoka with hoikuens being way too full!” – Shu-Lin

Thanks Everyone! I will follow your advice and go to the Kuyakusho again and re-submit my application for the second round. I went to the Kuyakusho more than 6 times during the application period last year to ask questions and show my eagerness to get my baby into Hoikuen, with the hope that that would help push my application….no luck though. I have also applied to all the Ninsho (Certified Day Care Centers) in my area, and will now broaden my search to the Hoiku-mamas and Hoiku-shitsus. I had been told that they are all full with long waiting lists too, but best to apply anyway. I will also check out the private ones thanks Lowly!

I also asked my sister-in-law for advice – here is her reply!


In Tokyo, as far as I know, Hoikuens are grouped into 4 general categories:

1). Koritsu – 公立 / public – opened/directed/operated by local government

2). Ninka – 認可 – operated by private company and have the standards specified by Japanese government.

Both 1) + 2) have good level of facilities (big space with yard, high number of staff, good quality food services and facilities, disaster defense and sanitary management etc) and reasonable fees. Have to apply through kuyakusho (Ward office, 区役所), and Kuyakusho controls the screening.

3). Ninsho – 認証 – Certified Day Care Centers. There are 2 kinds – Type A and Type B. Ninsho are run under the standards specified by local gorverment/Tokyo. Compared with 1) and 2) though, they are smaller and have fewer facilities and higher fees, but as they are supported by Tokyo local government, the maximum fees are controlled under 7~8万円/month.

1) + 2) and 3) are all listed in the Hoikuen booklet from the Kuyakusho, as they all in some way are managed by the local government.

Now here is No. 4.

4). Ninkagai / baby hotel – 認可外/ベビーホテル – opened/directed/operated by a private company. No financial support by government and they set their guidelines independently (still they must gain a license from the government to open it and they have the same general standards as other childcare facilities).

Even though Ninkagai are not authorised or managed by the government, it doesn’t always mean they are not a good nursary. Sometimes they have really good and original/unique standards and just want to be independent and avoid being controlled too much by the government. But they are expensive! Cost around 7万円〜15万円/month. They also usually charge by the hour (time charge system).

I recommend you try increasing the number of choices on your application for 1) + 2) and re-submit to the kuyakusho for the second round, apply to more 3), and also check Ninkagai nurseries and apply to them as a backup.


Thank you Izumi! I will follow your advice!

Good luck everyone too with your applications!

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One thought on “Looking for a Hoikuen (Nursery School) in Japan – Round 2

  1. Kate says:

    Here is a reply from Soundous on Facebook:

    Yes there is this category also called muninka or ninkagai. Probably it can be used as backup, as it would also increase your points at the selection process in the kuyakusho especially if you want to keep applying for a certain nursery. What I would advise is that you should try it first for ichiji-hoiku and see if you feel comfortable with it. It may depend on the place, but I was looking into one in my ward, Arakawa-ku, and was about to sign but rethought about it when I saw a small baby left crying because there were only 2 staff taking care of all the children from 0 to 3-5 and the space was small for all. I just didnt feel comfortable and it wasn’t worth it especially as it was far from our place.
    After that I went for kengaku to other places in my ward, even those a bit far, and also went more often to my kuyakusho and complained about the result and insisted I have to go back to work in April. I finally got a place in the second round. Although it was not my first choice and I needed to take the train from home, I was comfortable with the environment and the staff. I am still keeping the application to move to my 1st choice which is closer to home, but still on the waiting list. Even for this April unfortunately there are no vacancies in the 2 year old classes, but I keep hoping that someone will move out.
    Did you know that you can also apply at other wards as well, maybe closer to your work place until you find a place closer to home.
    Hope this can help in your search!
    Have a great day!


    Thank you so much Soundous! This is great advice!!

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