As the capital of Japan and the country’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, Tokyo has no shortage of international schools. It can be hard to make the right choice for your child’s education, but if you’re looking for an international where the stimulating IB curriculum meets an immersive dive into Japanese language and culture, Capital Tokyo International School (CTIS) is the perfect choice.
CTIS is a newer school, just opening in 2022. In such a short time it’s grown quickly and now has more than 50 students. With a convenient location just a 10-minute walk from Hiroo and Shirokane-Takanawa stations, CTIS is an inclusive school that accepts students with a wide range of English proficiency levels. With its expanding IB curriculum, inclusivity and exposure to the Japanese language and culture, CTIS is truly a rising star, and a great choice for anyone who would like to enroll their child at an international school.
CTIS follows the IB curriculum in the form of the Primary Years Program (PYP) and Middle Years Program (MYP.) As of June 2023, CTIS is finishing up the IB authorization process for both of those programs. Aside from the IB curriculum, some lessons are taught in Japanese and there are also weekly Mandarin classes, giving students a uniquely global experience. This “best of all worlds” approach makes CTIS a great choice for students who may want to easily transition into other international schools as they grow older, or as families move to different cities and countries.
2. Japanese Culture
Along with exposure to the Japanese language, CTIS offers ample opportunities for students to learn about Japanese culture as well. This differs from most other international schools and offers some variety compared to the usual international school experience. This is especially valuable for expats want like to enroll their children in international school while making sure that they are also making the most of their experience in Japan. CTIS is a strong choice for foreign and Japanese students alike, as they gain exposure to both the IB curriculum and Japanese culture.
3. Mission Statement and Values
What sets CTIS apart from many international schools is their inclusivity. While adhering to the IB curriculum, CTIS is welcoming of students with a wide range of proficiencies in English. While a student may not be fluent in English when they enter the school, they’re sure to quickly improve as they learn alongside classmates with various English proficiency levels. Regardless of a student’s background, they are welcome at CTIS. This aligns with the School’s Mission Statement:
“CTIS is dedicated to developing inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who use intercultural understanding and their practical and problem-solving skills to help to create a better and more peaceful world. We stress the total development of our students and have put in place a broad, balanced, conceptual and connected curriculum that builds the language proficiency, skills and attributes needed to develop international mindedness and become lifelong learners. Regardless of where our students were born, where they live, what religion they hold and what ethnicity they have, we strive to provide inclusive, high-quality education and eliminate education inequalities.”
In addition to their mission statement, CTIS also has four key values in their students:
● Application of knowledge and skills to authentic situations
● A Japanese-English translingual education with Mandarin language acquisition
● Fostering curiosity and creativity.
● Encouraging authentic leadership and collaboration
Interview with the Head of School, Gustav Helman
Sometimes it is best to hear from the people closes to the action. Gustav Helman, the Head of School for Capital Tokyo International School has been kind enough to sit for an interview and speak about his decades-long experience in education, his time in Japan and what makes CTIS such a special place.
Q: Could you tell us about your experience in education so far?
A: I have been involved in international schools around the world for the past 31 years, in Zambia, USA, Argentina, Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Brazil and Japan. I have worked the four IB programs, as a teacher, department coordinator, head of faculty, DP and MYP coordinator and principal. I am also a DP examiner, DP workshop leader, IB consultant and online facilitator for the IB programs.
Q: What brought you to Japan in the first place?
A: This is actually my third time in Japan. I’ve always enjoyed Japanese culture since I was a little child: I remember trying to make origami, and learning to make 手巻き寿司 at the dinner table, from time to time.
Once I obtained a degree in education, I came to Japan for postgraduates studies at Yokohama National University, as a 留学生 under a Monbusho (as the Ministry of Education was known as at the time) scholarship. Later on in my life, I was here in Japan again as an IB coordinator to bring a school through the authorization process. And now I am here again!
Q: What was your impression of Japan when you came here for the first time? Was there anything different from what you expected?
A: My impression of Japan when I first arrived was one of marvel! I was mesmerized by the city, the food, the pace of life, how kind and helpful Japanese people are and the amazing landscapes! Japan is a country that exceeds all expectations!
Q: Takahiro Sato is the founder and chairman of this school and a well-known angel investor. What is his goal for Capital Tokyo International School? Also what do you most identify with regarding his philosophy and policies?
A: Our founder has the vision of developing a school that develops and nurtures practical knowledge through the IB programs to ensure that students are ready to face the challenges that the future may bring. This approach to holistic education is probably what resonates with me the most: Education cannot be disconnected from reality and practical applications if we want our students to succeed.
Q: Capital Tokyo International School will complete its K-12 education from kindergarten to high school by 2026, isn’t that a huge challenge?
A: Opening a school with IB programs is always a challenge; but at CTIS, we see this challenge as an opportunity to develop a unique approach to education, and to work together with families that we serve.
Q: And all of the schools are planned to acquire international baccalaureate accreditation as well, correct?
A: Yes, we are ready to open a kindergarten in April 2024, and take it through authorization for the PYP. Our primary school will be authorized toward the end of 2024, and our middle school should receive authorization to offer the MYP about the same time. After that, CTIS will work on the Diploma Programme (DP) authorization for the high school.
Q: What kind of students do you expect to join your school?
A: We are constantly receiving applications for admissions throughout the year. Our students come from families where education is seen as the key to the future, and where inquiry, self-directed learning, care and compassion are considered key elements in a child’s development.
With a unique curriculum and welcoming community, CTIS is a great choice for any family considering international schools in the Tokyo area. Please see the CTIS homepage and contact information below for more information.
Capital Tokyo International School (CTIS)
Address: Minamiazabu-shibuya bldg, 4-11-30 Minamiazabu, Minato-ku Tokyo 106-0047