Wednesday, March 18, 2015

International School in Tokyo? Why We Choose St. Mary's International School

"All the proofe of a pudding, is in the eating." 

I figured, over twenty years ago, I would write this blog post someday. This is an explanation as to why we choose St. Mary's International Boys School for our son's education while living in Tokyo.

I've now been living in Japan for more than thirty years. In that time, I have been working almost exclusively in the TV and radio, marketing and internet business. Because of my past experiences, I have had the chance to work with many of the highest ranking foreigners from American, British, Australian, German and Italian companies who head up some of the world's biggest corporations in Japan and Asia.

Of course, also in that time, I've had many chances to work closely with dozens upon dozens of foreigners who were born and raised here in Japan and went to the various international schools in the area who now work at those big international companies. I have seen their proficiency at English and Japanese with my own eyes and ears, as well as witnessing their business acumen and skills.

Let me tell you some of the things I have seen.

When I began working for broadcasting stations in Japan in the mid-eighties, I was often a writer of scripts for announcers and radio programs and TV commercials. There was a "foreigner-boom" going on at that time here in Japan and television and radio shows were full of foreign casters and show hosts. Yet, still, even if one were a foreigner with a "foreign face" they still had to communicate with the Japanese staff of the programs and read scripts. It was there that I had my first taste of the level of education and real-world skills these people had received.

One particular event, out of many that really stands out in my memory, was a day I walked into the studio and met a well-known program personality. He was bent over a table and seemed perplexed. He called out to me, "Mike! Can you help me with a word?" 

“Of course!” I walked over and saw that he had written on a piece of paper the letters, 'i-n-j-i-n-e.' I must have scowled a bit at what he had written and asked, "What are you trying to spell, 'engine'"? 

He said, "No! I want to write, 'indian.'"

I told him the correct spelling. A little later on, when the timing was right, I nonchalantly asked, "By the way, where did you go to school?" He told me the school's name.

I immediately made a mental note of that school and I scratched it off the list of my future prospects for my children. 

This sort of experience is just one of many I’ve had with people who had graduated from an international school here in Japan. I wasn't happy about this knowledge I had gained from these former students, but it did show me some anecdotal evidence concerning the education these good people had received from their schools.

It was disappointing to say the least. I think school is supposed to teach a child how to read and write and do arithmetic, but it is also for helping them to fit into and become contributing members of society.

I thought that most of these folks I had worked with were lucky to have been born when they were; they could get jobs in broadcasting... If it weren't for broadcasting, they'd be working at blue collar jobs. The fact of the matter was that their English level wasn’t up to par (I don’t think they could have gotten a high-paying job back in my hometown) and their Japanese skills were restricted to conversational Japanese; they couldn't even read a Japanese newspaper! Gee! That meant they probably couldn't get a job in their very own neighborhood. Of all the ones I met, only three individuals could read or write Japanese.

I found that simply shocking. I then knew which schools I didn't want to send my kids to.

As I mentioned, I have worked with many people who are the top of their company in their fields. There were three guys in particular who went to international school in Tokyo who have impressed me the most and they were/are in upper management positions at their companies… I'm sure that if they read this, they will know exactly who it is I am talking about.

All these guys were born and raised here and went to international school. They all spoke and could read and write fluent Japanese and their English is excellent; no trace of a strange accent and their written English is above par. They had all, also, graduated from top universities in the States, thanks to the education they received in Japan.

What schools did they attend? One of those guys told me he went to St. Joseph's in Yokohama and the other two had graduated from St. Mary's International school.

As they say, "The proof is in the tasting..."

St. Mary's International School student

My son has now been at St. Mary's for 7 grades. He loves it and is thriving. The competition at St. Mary’s is stiff - with boys from all over the world and top students from Korea and China and India too. My son loves St. Mary’s International School and he loves the high level of education, the life experience and the fun he receives.

I am proud that my son could make the grade and was able to enter St. Mary's International School. I can rest assured that he is getting the best education he can get in Tokyo and from that he can have the best shot at becoming a happy and successful person in whatever he chooses to do with his life.

After all, isn't that what school is all about?

Life is tough. I think things are going to get tougher. Our children need all the advantages they can get in their youth and in their education. We need to help them to become the best they can be. If you are a parent thinking about schooling for your son in Tokyo, I cannot recommend St. Mary's International School highly enough. 

For more information see: St. Mary’s International School (If that link doesn't work, copy and paste this into your browser:

Also, to get a better idea of what is going on at the school, check out the fun and informative blog written by the middle school principal, Mr. Langholz(If that link doesn't work, copy and paste this into your browser:


NOTES: Oh, and I just found this. It is a list of the Top 10 reasons parent's picked St. Mary's International School: 
(If that link doesn't work, copy and paste this into your browser:

MORE NOTES: My wife tells me that some of her biggest concerns were about the school building itself and the equipment the school provides for the boys. St. Mary's building is new and built to withstand the strongest earthquakes. My wife wants to be sure her son is safe in the event of earthquake or natural disaster. St. Mary's also has the best and newest equipment for the students to study and a proper swimming pool. That's a class act. Our son deserves the best. Doesn't yours?


Anonymous said...

Interesting article. As an aside, perhaps one day you might write an article on working long hours vs. working very efficiently. I find that as you get older (say 30 yrs +), it's hard to work more than 10 hours a day. So it comes down to trying to squeeze as much as possible from those hours. You could call that taking the German approach.

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Hi, Mike, sorry to be posting to your old post from 2015, but I came across it while researching on St. Mary's. Thanks a lot for your great post. It was quite insightful. How would you describe the culture of St. Mary's? I understand it's very academically excellent from multiple sources but would kids be allowed to be kids, esp at elementary? Would they be told to sit still and just study or allowed to goof around like boys? Would social/emotional development take back seat of academics? I'm a Japanese mom working/living in CA but have to go back to Tokyo all of sudden and am looking into schooling options for our 2nd grade son (and for the little one who's just 3). Since I haven't grown up in international school environment (I went to Japanese schools till college with a few years studying abroad in btw), int'l schools are totally new to me (and my husband is American). My son has some challenges sitting still, for example, which did not go so well with the small Montessori private school he attends now. Although other parents who know him are telling me he should not be labeled as a problem child at all but I'm trying to find out as much as I can about his future school and I'm going to visit St. Mary in June. I'm trying to find a school where there is a clear structure but also flexibility for so-called boys behaviors (full of energy, occasional physical roughness like you would see btw brothers) so my son can learn to become a confident gentleman along the way, rather than feeling ashamed of being him. Thanks again. said...

Sorry for leaving another message, I forgot to click on my email address when I submitted my previous comment. Thank you.

mike in tokyo rogers said...

Dear Yumi,

My son, as well as the other boys (and their moms too) were very happy in elementary school. They had fun. My son especially loved it. Really. He has now been there 8 years and still loves it.

Mike in Tokyo Rogers said...

Thank you for your quick reply, Mike. Great to hear your son and others loved it! Always nice to hear from actual families. :) Looking forward to visiting the school.

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