The British School in Tokyo looks back at 25 years of educational excellence

Education Tokyo Life - March 4th, 2014

This year the British School in Tokyo is celebrating its 25th Anniversary. A quarter of a century may only be a heartbeat in a country with Japan’s long and distinguished history, but the world has raced on at a breakneck pace since the formidable British Prime Minister Lady Margaret Thatcher declared us open on September 21, 1989.

Even those of you with the most retentive of memories will have long forgotten the record (remember those?) that topped the UK charts that day—even though it spent six weeks at number one.* But in many other ways 1989 was a highly memorable year. It was the year that witnessed the birth of the Internet and the collapse of the Iron Curtain; the year of Tiananmen Square and the San Francisco Bay earthquake; the year when Rain Man won the Oscar for best picture and Kazuo Ishiguro published The Remains of the Day. It all seems such a long time ago.

And, of course, it was a long time ago—certainly in terms of all that has happened since. There were fewer than 150 students at BST on that first day and not even the most prescient among them could have imagined that 25 years later their modern day counterparts, all 800 of them, would be taught in Wi-Fi enabled classrooms equipped with interactive whiteboards connected via AirPlay to their iPads. It’s a different world.

Thank goodness, though, that some things haven’t changed. Our librarian, Mr. Steven, may have just missed Lady Thatcher but he arrived soon afterwards and he is delighted that the children still love their books. Our parents are equally delighted that Mr. Steven is still baking his amazing cakes for our Friday coffee mornings, and are quick to agree with him that what makes this school so special, what has always made BST special, are its people and its sense of community.

It is this sense of community that we will celebrate throughout 2014 with a series of events here in Tokyo, in London, Hong Kong and Singapore.

There will, of course, be lots of opportunities to party—culminating with a Grand Charity Ball towards the end of the year—but we are also keen to mark our anniversary by celebrating our exciting position at the heart of this incredible city, and to establish a lasting legacy to sustain us through the next 25 years. Our strong relationships with Shibuya Kyouiku Gakuen from the start, and with Showa Women’s University in more recent times, are immensely important to us and we will celebrate those partnerships with a number of shared activities. We are especially keen that our pupils should have the opportunity to work in collaboration with their Japanese peers.


Margaret Thatcher and students, 25 years ago

We will also use our anniversary to give our students an even greater insight into the rich culture and history of this wonderful country. Thanks to the generous support of Walk Japan, we have two significant challenges planned for May and October—a 500 kilometer relay reviving the ancient route taken between Kyoto and Tokyo by the Emperor’s messengers along the Nakasendo Way, and a recreation of the traditional Mount Fuji pilgrimage, so popular during the Edo period. The pupils, parents, and teachers of BST have always been up for a challenge!

And we want to give something back. Central to our celebrations will be a fund- raising drive—not for ourselves but for those who can only dream of the world-class education our students are fortunate enough to receive. Working with United World Schools, we aim to build and maintain a village school in a developing country, and to establish an enduring partnership with its staff and students. It is an ambitious goal, but one we are determined to achieve.

As the British Foreign Secretary said when he wrote to us to wish us well for our anniversary celebrations, “Lady Thatcher would have been proud of the school she opened all those years ago.”

To find out more about the British School, visit their site.

This year the British School in Tokyo (BST) celebrates 25 years of providing outstanding British education to families in the Tokyo community. Celebrations kicked off on January 23, with a very enjoyable launch party at Stellato, Shirokanedai. You can see some of the pictures below.

It was fantastic to see so many members of the BST community there, and such an encouragement to sense a real buzz of affection for the school and such optimism for its future.

There will be a wide range of exciting events throughout 2014 to celebrate the school and its achievements, and to help BST achieve one of its principal aims of this anniversary year, namely the building of a village school in Cambodia for children who currently have little or no access to education.

party shot 1




Brian christian on the mic


guests at the party


more guests


more guests 2


* Ride on Time by Black Box topped the charts for six weeks