Located in the heart of Tokyo’s Minato-ku “embassy district”, Nishimachi International School is an institution that combines a rich cultural heritage with a progressive global perspective on education. The school was originally established in 1949 by Tane Matsukata, granddaughter of the former Prime Minister of Japan, Prince Matsukata Masayoshi. Tane Matsukata had returned to her homeland after two decades in the US. She found Tokyo in the process of rebuilding after conflict – but also sensed that the nation was transforming and becoming more culturally diverse, and recognised that education should be key to this regeneration.

“Tane Matsukata had a vision of respect, diversity and high standards that is probably even more relevant now,” says Headmaster Michael Hosking. “As a woman starting a school in 1949 in Japan, she was revolutionary. Nowadays, Nishimachi is unique in its strong programme focus in both English and Japanese, helping students to understand the place of languages and culture in our world. We have direct connection to a sumo wrestling stable, taiko drumming and ikebana flower arranging; there’s a genuine attempt to understand the importance of the culture here. We also engage in community involvement projects, with a focus on real-life global developments and issues.”

Nishimachi’s city-centre campus brings cutting-edge design to a historic site, including rooftop playgrounds. “The school has a fully equipped gymnasium, music and drama facilities, and state-of-the-art technology,” says Hosking. “We also have a beautiful kindergarten building, and a modern media centre library.”


Beyond the classroom

In addition to its urban base, the school also has an outdoor education centre, located to the north-west of Tokyo. “It’s called Camp Rioichiro Arai ‘Kazuno’ and it’s in a really interesting part of Japan,” says Hosking. “Grade 5 students plant rice at the site and return as Grade 6 students to harvest it. It is then used in the traditional mochitsuki rice cake-making ceremony at the school.”

Around half of Nishimachi’s students hold dual or multiple citizenships, with children coming from 35 countries including many from the US and Australia. “Our students go on to good universities around the world: Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Princeton, UCLA,” says Hosking. “The school has a reputation for very high academic achievement, and our aim is to maximise learning for all students – to help everyone be their best. We want to prepare students for their future, not our past.”