Yokohama International School

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Yokohama International School
Yokohama International School Logo.jpeg
258 Yamate-cho
Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa
Type International (Private)
Established 1924
Head of school Craig Coutts
Faculty 100
Grades Pre School - Grade 12
Enrolment 650
Colour(s) Red, White
Mascot Dragon

Yokohama International School (横浜インターナショナルスクール?) is an international school located in Yamate, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture, Japan catering primarily to the expatriate community in Yokohama.

It consists of a pre-school (Early Learning Centre), a kindergarten/ elementary school (grades K-5), a middle school (6-8) and a high school (9-12), a total of 13 academic years. Its campus is located in an area known as ‘the Bluff’, next to the Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery. The Bluff area is famous for having its many foreign residents and is also chosen as one of the best 100 towns and cities in Japan, attracting many tourist to the area. Founded in 1924, YIS is the second school in the modern era to use the word ‘international’ in its name behind the International School of Geneva which opened its doors just weeks before. The language of instruction is English though Japanese, French, Spanish, Chinese and German are also taught. The school offers a wide variety of curricula; it offers the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program (MYP) in its first 2 years of high school and then the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IB) in the latter 2 years of high school. The SAT is another major external exam offered at this school.


Yokohama International School was established in 1924, shortly after the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake by a group of foreign residents in Yokohama. The first class was held on the 27th of October, 1924 with only 6 students.[1] By 1939, it had 110 students from 21 nationalities, but was forced to close due to World War II. The original school structures were destroyed during the bombing of Yokohama in World War II. After the war, the school was reopened in 1955 on its original site. The school continued to expand in both facilities and enrolment through the 1960s and 1970s, and initiated its first International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme from 1986. It became fully accredited in 1991 by the European Council of International Schools (ECIS) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). The school currently has an enrolment of over 700 students from over 40 nationalities.

History based on article by Dennis Stanworth, the former high school principal is as follows:

"The idea of an international school in Yokohama, Japan, was germinated at a meeting held on September 24th 1924 shortly after the Great Kantō earthquake. Six founding members pledged moral and financial support to the forming of a new school for foreign students to be named Yokohama International School (YIS). This was only the second school in the modern era to use the word ‘international’ in its name behind the International School of Geneva which opened its doors just weeks before. Morning classes commenced on October 27, 1924 in a rented room at the local YMCA with an enrolment of six students aged between six and twelve years and a locally employed female teacher. One of the founding members of the school was Paul Nipkow, the family name synonymous with the famous Nipkow disc, an image scanning device used in the mechanical television up until 1932.

In the ensuing years, the number of students attending the school grew and in 1936, it was decided that YIS should open a boarding facility on the Principal’s residence to give more scope to this increasing enrolment. By March 1937, the number of students had reached 102 compared to 52 the year before. Twelve teachers were employed at the time. The Yokohama Country & Athletic Club (YC&AC) in the same year agreed to the school using its field on Wednesday afternoons for cricket and football (soccer). By 1939, YIS had grown to 110 students spanning 21 nationalities. Two years later, due to the pressures of war, constraints were being imposed on the school by the Japanese Government and by December of that year, YIS had closed. Soon after, the site became a refugee centre for German nationals, and then later an air defense training school. Unfortunately, on May 29, 1945, the school buildings were swept away by an air raid fire leaving only the concrete structures intact.

Under the act of the ‘Restoration of the United Nations Nationality Property in Japan’, in November 1951, repossession of the land that housed YIS was formally completed. With active support of foreign businesses and an indemnity payment received from the Japan government, a new building was erected on the original site and the school was reopened on September 15, 1955 with an enrollment of 8 children.

During subsequent years, there was rapid enrolment growth and on March 9, 1958, over 150 foreigners and families of 5 nationalities attended the opening of a second building. With a third building being added in 1962 (known as ‘the Middle Building’), it gave more room for growth and by 1967, the enolment figure had reached a staggering 320 students. The ‘Main Building’ was added in 1969 and in the same year, the school became registered as a ‘School Juridical Person’, (Gakko Hojin).

The first cohort group of Grade 9 students began classes in the fall of the same year and this group of nine students became the first graduates of the school, the ‘Class of 1973’. In 1986, YIS began its first class for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) dispensing with the British ‘A’ Levels which were, up to that point, offered in the last two years of high school. The school became fully accredited in 1991 by the European Council of International Schools (ECIS) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Mid 1990’s, the school introduced the IGCSE (the International General Certificate in Secondary Education) in Grades 9 and 10, replacing the GCE’s (General Certificate in Education).

1999 was a year of celebration for the school – its 75th anniversary. A week of celebrations and events attended by dignitaries, former heads, parents, alumni, and the school community at large was organized, culminating in a huge party at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Yokohama with many ambassadors as guests of honour. In the same year the school founded the Schools Building Schools programme (SBS), a project involving the raising of funds to build schools in less fortunate countries around the world.

In 2000, YIS became the first school in Japan to offer the Reggio Emilia programme for the early learners, and a year later became the first school in Japan authorized to offer the Primary Years Programme of the IBO, the International Baccalaureate Organisation. By 2003, the school’s structure included the Early Learning Centre, (ages 3–5), an Elementary School (K-5), a Middle School, (Grades 6-8) and a High School, (Grades 9-12)

Presently, with a student body of over 700 comprising over 40 nationalities and faculty and staff of over 100 spanning 15 nationalities.


  • Early Learning Center (age 3 to 4): Reggio Emilia.
  • Elementary School (K to 5): IB Primary Years Program (PYP).
  • Middle School (Grades 6-8): IB Middle Years Programme (MYP).
  • High School (Grades 9-12): IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the IB Diploma Programme.


Yokohama International School is located in the heart of the historic foreign residential section of Yokohama, high on a bluff opposite Minato No Mieruoka Kouen (Harborview Park) overlooking the bustle of Japan’s second largest port city. Some of Yokohama's most popular neighborhoods for foreign residents are within walking distance or a short car ride, and there is convenient access to public bus, subway and train service. The Motomachi-Chūkagai Station, the terminus of the Minatomirai Line subway is a 5-minute walk from the school and connects directly with Shibuya in the heart of Tokyo in just 35 minutes via Limited Express.

Detailed access map and directions



The Cafeteria is 216m2 (18m x 12m) and is able to hold 120 people. There are enough tables and seats for up to 100 people, a sound system, pull-down screen and a projector.


The Bathrooms are located on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the main building. Bathrooms are also located in the gymnasium, the kirin building, the modern languages building and the cafeteria.

Tanner Auditorium

The Tanner Auditorium is 301.95m2 (16.775m x 18m) and is able to hold 250 people. It is equipped with movable bleacher seating for up to 240 people, platform risers for the stage, movable chairs for up to 110 people, tables, a sound system, lighting equipment, concert piano, music stands, pull-down screen and a projector.


The Gymnasium is 476m2 (28m x 17m) and is equipped with changing rooms, along with basketball, volleyball, badminton, pingpong, dodgeball, and hockey equipment

Dance Studio

The Dance Studio is 116.23m,2 (11.8m x 9.5m) and is able to hold around 40 people. It is equipped with changing rooms, a sound system along with various exercise mats.

Outdoor Turf

The Outdoor Turf is 595m2 (17m x 35m) and is able to hold around 25 people. It is equipped with soccer balls, hockey equipment, portable goals, and a roof netting.


The Playground is 336m2 (24m x 14m) and is in front of the elementary building and the cafeteria. It is equipped with basketballs, hoops, soccer balls, and a PA System. The elementary building is equipped with shock resistant glass to ensure the safety of elementary students.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Hayden, Mary (2006). Introduction to International Education: International Schools and their Communities. London: Sage Publications. p. 13. ISBN 978-1-4129-1999-9. 

Coordinates: 35°26′22″N 139°39′15″E / 35.439306°N 139.654030°E / 35.439306; 139.654030