The basic education system was modeled on a mixture of the British, French and US systems, with the latter influence perhaps being the largest.
Education in Japan is based on 6 years of primary school, 3 years of junior high school and 3 years of senior high school. Universities have 4 year programs.
Compulsory education accounts for 9 years of primary to junior high school when children have 6 to 15.
The school term goes from April until March of the following year. School year consist on 3 terms which are separated by short holidays in spring and winter, and one month holidays for summer break.
What kind of Schools in Japan?
Kindergarten (Yochien) :
Kindergarten provide preschool education for children over 3 but not yet enrolled in elementary school. Most of kindergartens are private, parents must bear all fees. Preschool is not considered complusory, but most of children go there.
There is an average of 4 hours per day (10am to 02pm).
Elementary School (Shogakko) :
At the age of 6, all children enrolled elementary school. Most of school are public (no fees, only some few expenses are borne by parents). This is the first stage of compulsory education for Japonese children. Almost all Japonese children enter at this stage, most of then have already experienced kindergarten. They study 6 hours every weekday.
Junior High school (Chugakko) :
From 12 to 15 years old, this is a important phase of Japenese child. Result at Junior High School can determine entry to a good Senior High School and hence to a good university and career. Children usually stay late at school, busy with various clubs and activities as well as studies at a cram school (Juku).
The most distinctive trait of the Japonese educational system is the entrance test. To pass the entrance test and get admission to the best educational institutes, numerous learners go to particular training schools called Juku.
Senior High school (Kotogakko) :
The student in Japonese school from 15 to 18 years old, enter to Senior High School by an entrance exam. In Japan, senior high school is not compulsory. There are both public and private institutions, and depending on the school, their programs may be full-time, part-time or correspondence-based. These schools may offer general education or specialized education. The special technical or vocational training schools (Senmon Gakko) offer students the chance to combine senior high school studies with a vocational subject (industry/manufacturing, commerce, agriculture, etc.).These are generally 4 year courses, and start after junior high school.
In some cases, where students are already working full time, they may attend evening school instead of normal high school. These classes are run in the evening, and instead of the usual 3 years, it takes 4 years to complete a senior high school education.
University (daigaku) :
As in Senior High School, student must take entrance exam to enter, but there also many universities with a system of recommendation.
Japonsese undergraduate programs are 4 years length, but it can take 6 years to complete most.
Graduate programs include Master’s and Doctoral courses. Master’s courses are usually for 2 years, and Doctoral courses for five years (the first 2 years are often treated as if they were a Master’s degree). Medical Doctorates are only 6 years long.
University begins in April each year, and most of courses are based on a semester system running from early April to late September, and from late September to late March.