St. Michael’s International School – Creating Global Citizens

Location –  3 Chome-17-2 Nakayamatedori, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0004, Japan

Website –

Contact +81 78-231-8885


In the beautiful country of Japan, nestled in the vibrant city of Kobe, lies an educational institution that embodies the true essence of global learning and academic excellence. St. Michael’s International School (SMIS) has established itself as a renowned educational institution, offering a holistic and internationally-focused education to students from all corners of the globe. With a rich history, diverse student body, and an unwavering commitment to educational innovation, SMIS stands as a beacon of learning in Japan.

A Rich History of Educational Excellence:

Founded in 1946, St. Michael’s International School offers a distinctive British-international education within a culture of academic excellence and a caring family community. The vision of our founders shapes the future of our school, ensuring we retain a well-deserved reputation for being a family-friendly school whilst nurturing aspirations in our young learners.

Based on the same site since 1946, St. Michaels is well established in the Kitano area of Kobe, a safe, family-friendly area popular with international families The area is a convenient, suburban hub close to the bustle of Sannomiya and within easy reach of Osaka.

Throughout its history and continuing today, St. Michael’s is a small school, which ensures that the students are educated in a friendly atmosphere conducive to the development of understanding, tolerance and friendship towards people of all nationalities and creeds.

Prominent Personality

Named after the patron saint of the diocese, St. Michael’s International School was founded on a firm foundation of Christian principles, which continue to this day. It is part of an international educational tradition extending back to 1893 when its predecessor, the English Mission School (EMS), one of Japan’s first international schools, was founded.

Arising from the joint efforts of Miss Leonora Lea, an English Missionary who remained in Kobe during World War II, and Bishop Michael Yashiro of  the Kobe diocese, the school officially opened for international school children on 10th March 1946 with a special event which was attended by Sir Vere Redman, who represented the British Embassy and travelled from Tokyo for the occasion. The school is many things to many people and over the years St. Michael’s has welcomed students from every corner of the globe. It is a common occurrence to have family members visiting the school to reminisce about their time, remembering old friends and events.

Beyond the Classroom

At St. Michael’s children are supported to learn and develop at their own unique pace using the International Early Years Curriculum (IEYC.)  This research-based curriculum recognises global best practice and the developmental needs of 2–5-year-olds. The IEYC supports key learning through holistic enquiry and play-based approaches encompassing all curriculum areas including personal, social and emotional development.  This innovative curriculum is underpinned by eight learning principles: 

1. The earliest years of life are important in their own right.

2. Children should be supported to learn and develop at their own unique pace.

3. Play is an essential aspect of all children’s learning and development

4. Learning happens when developmentally-appropriate teacher-scaffolded and child-initiated experiences harness children’s natural curiosity in an enabling environment

5. Independent and interdependent learning experiences create a context for personal Development and are the foundation of international mindedness

6. Knowledge and skills development lead to an increasing sense of understanding when children are provided with opportunities to explore and express their ideas in multiple ways

7. Ongoing assessment, in the form of evaluation and reflection, is effective when it involves a learning-link with the home

8. Learning should be motivating, engaging and fun, opening up a world of wonder for children where personal interests can flourish

Financial Assistance

With a focus on compassion and funded primarily by donations from our alumni, the school has a well-established scholarship fund, created in honour of our Founder, Miss Lea.  In the event of sudden, severe financial hardship due to immediate loss of income/bankruptcy or other unforeseen circumstances, St. Michael’s International School can provide short term financial support for existing families.

Characteristics of the School

For more than seventy-seven years, St. Michael’s International School has been one of the leading providers of international education in Japan and is the only accredited, International Primary Curriculum (IPC) school in the country.  As the only fully accredited international school in Kansai offering a specialised Early Years and Primary British education, our young learners thrive in a unique and caring environment. The school has a long tradition of excellence and is often described as the small school with a large heart. A strong sense of partnership between school and the families we serve has been nurtured throughout our long history, creating the supportive, happy, family orientated community school it is today. Introduced in 2020, our groundbreaking STEM programme offers learners authentic experiences to develop their computing, robotics and coding skills.

The development of character and sensitivity to major global issues are important objectives, together with an innovative Wellbeing curriculum, integrated use of STEM technology and strong academic foundation in all subjects. The school aims to educate for the future, while maintaining the traditions imparted by our founders.

Future Proof Education

A community of lifelong learners, our highly experienced and qualified faculty keep abreast of curriculum development, new teaching methodologies and research, exploring these during regular training days throughout the year.  Established partnerships with accrediting agencies offer our faculty access to the very best and most up to date professional development.

Recognition and Awards

In 2007 St. Michael’s became the first school in Kansai to be awarded dual accreditation by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC.) In keeping with its reputation for being ground-breaking, St. Michael’s International School is the first and still the only school in Japan to have its curriculum accredited by the International Curriculum Association (ICA) In November 2020 St. Michael’s also achieved accreditation with the Council of British International School (COBIS.) Winning awards from TELL Japan in 2021 and again in 2022 St. Michael’s Health and Wellbeing programme supports learners’ personal growth and development.  

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