Bits of Japanese Knowledge

Childcare and nursery

There are four main types of childcare facilities in Japan: licensed nursery, non-licensed nursery, kindergartens, and certified childcare centers. Nursery are generally called "Hoikuen" regardless of whether they are licensed or not.


Licensed nursery

  • In principle, it provides childcare services for children aged 0 to 5 from morning to evening or until night.
  • It has been authorized by the local government to be established.
  • It meets the minimum standards set by the Japanese government for childcare, including the assignment of nursery staffs, the size of nursery room size, and the availability of cooking rooms and playground.

In addition to local governments, private organizations such as social welfare service corporation and private corporation like joint-stock company also operates licensed nursery.
If you wish to use a licensed childcare nursery, you must apply at the local city office and obtain approval. Municipalities determine the amount of childcare services (such as childcare time) considering the status of households and parents working conditions. Once approved, the parent will submit their desired list of approved nurseries to the municipality. Municipalities will adjust available nurseries to consider their wishes.
The nursery fee is determined in principle according to income, considering factors such as the number of children and their age. It is more expensive for younger children (0 ~ 2 years) and cheaper for children aged three years or older.

Non-licensed nursery

  • In principle, we provide childcare services for children aged 0 to 5 from morning to evening or until night.
  • The facilities do not meet the national minimum standards for childcare.
  • They are operated by various managements such as private companies, NPO corporations, and individuals etc.

Non-licensed nurseries are primarily used by households who have not entered licensed nurseries, households who wish to use the facilities on an irregular or temporary basis, or households who need childcare on holidays or at night.


  • Kindergarten is an infant education facility for children aged 3 to 5 years.
  • Many of the kindergartens are private, and there are many facilities of incorporated educational institution and religious corporations.
  • Monthly fee is about 10,000 yen at public kindergartens. Many private kindergartens are more expensive. Educational hours are generally set to be four hours. In recent years, many kindergartens, like nursery, have been practically extended childcare hours under "entrusted childcare" service.

Certified childcare center

They provide not only childcare and education, but also provide support for child-raising activities in the community.