The Japanese department is part of the Modern Languages department, situated in the Library block. Japanese has been taught for the last 25 years at Gresham’s.

Class sizes are comparatively small, affording pupils plenty of individual attention and results are excellent (since 2015 100% of students achieved a GCSE grade A* – C, almost 70% at A* -A).

The majority of pupils are complete beginners when they start in Year 9 and enjoy learning not only the language but also about manga, martial arts, traditional food and other aspects of Japanese culture.

The Japanese department’s aim is to give pupils an edge, having studied a more unusual language.  We also aim to demystify the language and show that it is as accessible as any European language.  Japanese skills are highly valued by many prospective employers and the Office of National Statistics recently reported that graduates in Japanese have the highest lifetime salary of graduates from any foreign language due to the careers pathways that open up in the fields of international business, translation and education.

Pupils also have the opportunities to visit Japan and to host visiting Japanese students.


Year 9

Pupils start as complete beginners in Year 9 and are introduced to the hiragana alphabet and learn things such as the basics of counting, introducing themselves and describing their hobbies and their family.


We follow the new EDEXCEL 9-1 GCSE which provides an excellent grounding for study post-16. Pupils start by extending their knowledge of kanji characters.  We then build up vocabulary and grammatical structures by studying a range of topics. The GCSE is taken at the end of Year 11 with speaking and writing, listening and reading each contributing 25%.


Japanese Society

The Japanese society runs termly events such as sushi making workshops and movie nights. Recent showings have included Studio Ghibli’s “The Wind Rises” and “Ponyo”.

Manga lending library

Thanks to support and funding from the Japan Foundation in London, we have been able to create a new manga lending library with over 100 copies of popular shonen and shojo manga titles translated into English.  You can now borrow your favourite copy of Naruto, Hunter x Hunter, Attack on Titan and many more.  Visit Room 13 in the Library building to browse through our newest arrivals.


Hakuho award 2015

In 2015, Gresham’s was awarded a trip to Japan by the Hakuho Foundation.  The school competed in a field of about 80 schools and was selected as one of 13 schools worldwide to participate.  Four Gresham’s pupils spent two weeks in Tokyo with students of Japanese from countries such as Mongolia, Brazil, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia, India, Turkey, and Vietnam.  They participated in language workshops, homestays, school visits and cultural experiences which culminated in a presentation in Japanese about their stay to an audience of over 300 people.

School exchange

The Japanese department runs exchanges with Keio Shonan Fujisawa High School in Kanagawa Prefecture and with Doshisha Kori Junior and Senior High School in Osaka.  The Japanese students usually visit us every other year in March and we are planning to visit Japan next in 2020, in the same year at the Olympics.  Pupils will have the chance to visit Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima and Tokyo as well as visiting a Japanese school and staying with a Japanese family.

Mr Ryan West

Head of Japanese