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Understanding Hoikuens (Day Cares) In Fukuoka


Difference Between a Hoikujo, Hoikuen & Youchien

Basically, there are public and privately run nurseries, day cares and kindergartens. Not all child rearing centers are called hoikuens. A nursery is a hoikujo. A day care is a hoikuen and a kindergarten is a youchien. Hoikujos and hoikuens generally offer care services. Children are taken care of in situations where parents cannot do so during the day because of some validated reasons.  These two terms are  often used interchangeably. A youchien on the other hand conducts educational based programs as well as care for children. Hoikujos and hoikuens admit babies as young as 4 months old (2 months at times for private nurseries). Youhiens admit children between 3 and 5 years of age.  Hoikujos and hoikuens may open from 7 am to 6 pm and offer extended care time. Youichiens may open from 9 am till 2 pm or 3 pm and don’t all provide after hours care program for children. For more information, please contact your ward offices.

I refer mostly to public hoikuens in this post since my daughters are currently attending one. I doubt there will be much difference in the application procedures for a hoikujo or youchien nonetheless.

Learning it the Hard Way

Recently, my husband and I received a notice to go to kuyakusho (the ward office) to fix some hoikuen paperwork. This seem to be happening every six months and can get rather annoying to say the least. Anyway, our experience of hoikuens began in 2007 when my husband visited a hoikuen opposite the Hakozaki post office and asked the “Sensei In Charge” if he could bring our daughter  to the hoikuen and also inquired about the application. Sadly, our daddy was instructed to go to Kuyakusho. Sad because we had no idea about hoikuen entrance requirements and where to go.  Recounting those unacknowledgable beginnings, now I can comfortably say that we have graduated from the Hoikuen Enrolling Requirements School! So here comes the interesting part. I have put together a summary of our learning outcomes for those parents considering a hoikujo, hoikuen or youchien for their children.

Hoikuen Entrance Requirements

Parents must satisfy at least one of the following conditions listed to have your children enrolled at a hoikuen.  I have listed the 5 that I know of. There may be more.

  1. Both or either parents work or study at least 4 hours a day and 15 days or more in a month.
  2. Both or either parents work at home (besides normal house keeping) and away from the children.
  3. Mother who is pregnant (due to give birth in 2 months time) and who cannot take care of the children.
  4. One parent is sick, injured or disabled.
  5. Parents have had their house damaged by fire or a natural disaster.

Required Documents for the Application

It is important to have all the necessary documents completed, stamped, signed and brought with you to avoid round trips back to your ward office.

  1. Application form for enrollment: You can get this at your chosen hoikuen or at the Child Welfare Section of your ward office.
  2. Certificate of Employment: This is the proof of employment for both or either parents. Collect this form from the ward office. Give this form to your employer to complete and hand it back to you.
  3. Special request form: In the case where your employer cannot submit a Certificate of Employment, they can complete this form and hand it to back to you. The information to go on this form includes your job title and description, start and finish times, how many hours worked per day, days worked per week, the whole duration of your work, and the amount you earn per month. Your employer should include the name of the business, organisation, group or association, their personal seal or signature, and their contact information and address.
  4. Student enrollment certificate (Zaigaku Shoumeisho): This is proof of student status for both or either parents. This is obtained from the school.
  5. Certificate of Tax payment: For both parents. This can either be the Certificate of Income and Withholding Tax/Statement of Earnings (Gensen Choshuhyo), a copy of the Final Income Tax Return (Shotokuzeikakutei Shinkokusho) or Certificate of Taxation (Shotoku Kazei Shoumeisho)
  6. Maternity and Baby Book (Boshitechou): This book may be needed during interview
  7. Family’s Alien Registration Card and Passports: Depending on your family’s situation, parents may need to provide these documents as well. We had to do that this year.

Parents may be asked to submit all of the above or several according to the discretion of officer serving you.

Date for Application

In Japan, the academic year starts on the 1st of April and ends on the 31st of March the next year. Application forms for enrollment into hoikuens are usually issued in November of the current year for entrance into hoikuens for the next fiscal year. Parents can collect the application forms from their desired hoikuen or at their ward office. The ward office clerk will at this time issue parents other required documents that parents may need to complete. Due dates for the application is set by individual hoikuens and ward offices but is usually between December and January. Check with each body respectively to make sure you don’t miss the dates.

Hoikuen Fees

Private centers cost more than their public counterparts and fees vary depending on your family’s annual income in the previous year and the age of the children.  In cases where a family’s annual income falls below a minimum level, the family may not have to pay any fees. However, there are other fees set by the hoikuen that parents need to pay for each child at the hoikuen. PTA, stationary, books, uniforms, excursion and late collecting fees are among some of them.

List of Hoikuens in Fukuoka

The Fukuoka Child Care Association provides a wealth of information about hoikuens in Fukuoka. Click here to see locations of hoikuens around you.


For those who don’t read Kanji, you can use Google Translate or Yahoo! Babel Fish to get a rough idea.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 19/08/2009 8:26 am

    Wow this is great information my dear.
    Indeed hoikuen registration is a very tedious process,especially in a case where you shift to a new place.
    Surprisingly these people can not use the documents that you used for previous registration in the case of transfer of your child to a near by hoikuen ,instead they will tell you to start all over again.

    • 20/08/2009 2:51 am

      Thank you KC. That is so true. They treat all applications as totally new and requirements may vary for individual families. Push on! Sweet relief will come when all is successful.

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