Easing the transition for families relocating to Japan

Relocation can be a daunting experience. Relocate talks to Brian Christian, principal of The British School in Tokyo, whose school is well practised in helping children and families in transition.

The British School in Tokyo has students of 63 different nationalities. Its biggest demographic, says principal Brian Christian, is now “long-term stayers in Japan, often dual nationality, often where one of the parents is Japanese”.However, he adds, “We still have a relatively small number – let’s say in the region of 15 to 20 per cent – who are genuine international expats, who are on short-term contracts. But it’s interesting to see how many people come to Japan and whether they stay. In some cases, they stay as long as they possibly can, because it’s such a fascinating place.”Being at the heart of a fast-paced, innovative city must have advantages for students. Brian Christian is quick to confirm this.“That’s where we are so lucky,” he says. “Tokyo is such an amazing place to be, and our networks – through parents, through the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan, and through the embassy – are incredible.”Nevertheless, Japan – Tokyo especially – can be a daunting place to come to. Brian Christian explains, “It’s a megacity. It’s very different from most of the rest of Asia, so often parents, particularly those with very young children, are wary of going there for the first time.”

Watch part two of our interview with Brian Christian

Ensuring a smooth transition

The British School in Tokyo is experienced in providing the smoothest possible transition. “We buddy up prospective parents with people who have already made the transition and know what to look for and what the pitfalls are,” says Mr Christian. “Even in the period before they arrive, they are able to talk to another parent who has been through the same experience.”Discover more about the school’s approach in our video interview – part of Relocate’s Headteacher Insights series – which also covers:
  • The importance of accreditation to parents seeking an international school
  • Networking with local businesses to provide opportunities for students
  • The school’s, and the wider APAC region’s, approach to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects
  • Key attributes of successful students

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