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Guide to Registering for a Nursery in Japan

If you are living in Japan with kids, you might want to put your child into a nursery or a daycare. This blog will hopefully give you a brief overview of the different types of nurseries available and some vocabulary to look out for.

認可(Ninka): Authorized Daycare Facility

Authorized daycare facilities in Japan are publicly funded and lower cost compared to commercial options. Within this category, there are both public daycares, kouritsu (公立 ) and private daycares shiritsu (私立).

Authorized centers are inspected and licensed by the Ministry of health labor and welfare. The size of the school area, the ratio of students to teachers, the curriculum, and health and safety standards, all must be inspected and approved by the ministry

Costs can be anywhere from zero to 60,000 JPY a month depending on your amount of taxable income. This means that they are the lowest cost option, as well as the most popular.

Applying to Ninka Nursery

In order to get into these facilities, you will need to submit a formal application in accordance with a yearly schedule.

Because there is often a waiting list, these applications are prioritized based on a points scale in order to preserve open seats for children based on need.
Points are awarded based on several criteria, including:

  • How many hours per week you are working
  • What type of employment do you have
  • If you are a resident of the ward
  • If you are a single-parent household
  • If you have parents nearby to take care of the children
  • If you are a student or attending a Japanese language school

Each ward handles this application process differently, but the points categories generally share the same criteria in most wards. The application process can be long and complicated, including multiple visits and interviews to the nursery.
We will do our best to help share useful information and tips for navigating this process later in the course.

む認可(Muninka): Unauthorized Daycare Facility

Unlike the Ninka facilities these facilities do not follow the inspection standards set forth by the MHLW and they are also not public. Some people may have the misconception that this means they are less safe than authorized facilities but this is actually not true.

These facilities offer more flexible options to parents. You can determine how long the child can stay, and there’s an easier entrance process and comparable cost. There is also a wider range of activities for students. Another difference between this and the ninka facilities is that they will also care for sick children, as opposed to an authorized facility that would send the child home if the child were sick.

The cost is a bit higher than the authorized facilities, but the trade-off is that they are easier to get into as they have no set limit for the number of students that they can accept. Additionally, they also offer a wider range of activities and classes for children normally.

You also will not need to participate in a long and formal application process to enroll in these schools, making them easier to enter for most people.
Some municipalities offer funding to help pay the costs of these centers.

認証 (Ninshou): Government-certified daycare centers

In recent years – child care in the Tokyo Metropolitan Region has had large waiting lists and limited availability.

In order to respond to the demand, the Japanese government has allowed municipal governments to certify their own childcare centers with proprietary inspection methods.

For these, monthly fees are determined based on each location and there is not a strenuous application process. They also will care for infants below the age of 1 year old.

They are typically divided into two categories:

  1. Type A – centers that are located near train stations
  2. Type B – centers that have a home-like environment.

Applying to Ninka Daycare Facilities

When applying to the public, certified facilities, the most popular application window is during the November of the preceeding year. So for example, if you would like your child to join a licensed daycare facility in April of 2022, you would need to submit your application roughly in November or December of 2021.

This timeline varies from city to city and the exact dates can be found on your city’s official website. There will normally be a childcare help desk.
To find the child care help desk or support section, you can search for “保育課庶務担当”

  1. Visiting child care centers to introduce yourself and inspect them
  2. Admission Application to state your preference and formally request enrollment
  3. Selection / Announcement of Result
  4. Re-application in terms of non-selection

In the event that you are not successful with your application, you can apply to join from the first of every month. This application is typically due by the 21st of the previous month, but this deadline varies from city office to city official.

Useful Japanese Vocabulary for Nursery School Applications in Japan

Ninkaにんか認可Authorized daycare facility
Muninkaむにんか無認可Unauthorized daycare facility
Hoikuenほいくえん保育園Nursery school
Kodomoenこどもえんこども園Integrated pre-school (daycare facility)
ichijihoikuいちじ ほいく一時保育Temporary child care
Kuritsuくりつ区立Ward operated (school)
Shiritsuしりつ市立City Operated School (Municipal)
Hoikuen nyuuen moushikomi
Nursery School Admission Application
Hoiku shisetsu kengaku
Childcare facility tour
Naiteiないてい内定Unofficial Entrance Offer
Rough flow
Hoikuka shomuほいくかしょむ保育課庶務Child Care General Affairs Department
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