Located in the Heart of Tokyo...
Our school is located in Moto Azabu area of Minato-ku, Tokyo, one of the most popular areas for foreign residents for its convenience to parks, multinational corporate headquarters, and many embassies.
The campus comprises seven buildings: the Matsukata House, the Ushiba Memorial gymnasium/auditorium, the kindergarten building in the nearby Moto Azabu Hills complex, the primary building housing grades 1-2, the upper elementary and middle school building housing grades 3-9, the Yashiro Library/Media Center and our dedicated middle school building was opened in August of 2019.
Matsukata House was the original family residence of Nishimachi's founder, Tané Matsukata, and now serves as the school's main administrative building. The Yashiro Media Center, built in 2008, housed in its own three-floor building, contains about 18,000 items in both English and Japanese.
Nishimachi's outdoor education center, Camp Rioichiro Arai "Kazuno," is in Gunma Prefecture, 150 kilometers northwest of Tokyo, where students in grades 4 through 8 spend overnight field trips each year. The site is comprised of three buildings; main building, refurbished Japanese country house, and old okura warehouse with modern conveniences.
Campus Development History
- Past and Present
- Environmental Workshop (1979)
- PHASE I (1982–1985)
- PHASE II (1987–1988)
- Kazuno Expansion (1989-1990)
- PHASE III (1997-1999)
- Kindergarten Relocation (2002)
- PHASE IV (2006-2008)
Past and Present
This place is old, yet it is also very new. These words were uttered during Nishimachi’s fiftieth anniversary celebrations in 1999 and are still true today. Every year brings new faces, new classes, new technology, and even new buildings to our campus, but the vision that our founder, Tané Matsukata, had for her little school remains the same.
The following links take you to reprints of articles from previous Nishimachi publications illustrating how our school has physically grown over the last 28 years and who helped make those changes happen. Starting in 1979, when the school convened an environmental workshop to gather feedback from the community about the future development of the school, to the 2005 Strategic Plan, ideas for growth have been plentiful, but not always feasible. Some of the ideas from 1979 would probably still be found on the wish lists of our current students, thus proving the old adage, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Environmental Workshop (1979)
The Nishimachi Internationalist Issue One, Spring 1980
On December 13, 1979 an invitation to the whole-school Environmental Workshop was sent home with the weekly NISHIMACHI NEWS.
“The entire community – students, parents, and teachers – is invited to participate in a series of ‘workshops’ to consider possible ways and means of rebuilding the school. Each of us will have the chance to be ‘architect for a day.’ If we were to rebuild our school facilities on the same piece of property, how would we go about doing it? What class space and play space and meeting space and office space and storage space would we need to design? What things do we now lack which could be incorporated into a newly-built school?”
The workshop took place over three days in January 1980. It was an exciting and strengthening experience for the NIS community. But that was just a beginning. Where do we go from here? We agree on the need to have a well-considered long-term plan. The challenge is to match our dreams with the means to realize them. Some of those dreams can be realized easily with the imagination and vitality and flexibility, which are so much a part of the NIS tradition.
Summing Up The NIS Environmental Workshops
1. Family spirit
2. Student-faculty close interaction
3. Creative use of space
4. Size of classes – 25 maximum
5. Residence – sacred ground – an important symbol of the school
1. Ad hoc additions and changes
2. Idea of adding high school
3. Small classrooms
4. Smallness of school limits the variety of activities
5. Efficiency in office limited by inconvenient space
1. We want permanent buildings
2. Gymnasium, language lab, art, music studio, stage, library reading area
3. Utilize second floor: balconies
4. Increase students, up to 500 (50 each in K-9) to support new facilities
5. P.E. time:
(a) Rent fields close to school
(b) Use of morning and after school time
(c) Schedule Friday for sports and activities only
6. Lounge-quiet area, with plants and sun
7. Parking underground
8. Separate libraries for primary and upper grades
9. Blend what you have with what you need
(a) Need field in center for sports (more small buildings)
(b) Keep it “simple”
(c) Use it for more grades, i.e. have a boarding term for grade six
2. Library-media quiet space
3. Japanese culture center – language lab
4. Pool very important
5. Sunlight for building and playground
6. Organize an alumni association
7. GET FUNDS!
PHASE I (1982–1985)
The Nishimachi Internationalist Issue Three, Spring 1982
A NEW BUILDING FOR N.I.S.
We are pleased to announce that our new Building Fund Campaign is on its way to success. Our goal is to construct a new building on the present campus to meet our needs for a large covered area.
Our building project gained the interest of some very prominent architects. After much discussion, a team of two architects were recommended by our Architect Screening Committee and approved by the Board of Directors. Mr. Masachika Murata will head the team as the Project Supervisor and Mr. Edward Suzuki will serve as the Project Architect. Both architects are thoroughly familiar with international education and have special appreciation for Nishimachi’s goals. Mr. Murata has been associated with Nishimachi from the very beginning; his wife was instrumental in opening the school and his two sons were two of the first students. Mr. Murata also designed the first Nishimachi school building.
The Internationalist Issue Fourteen, Spring 1991
Thus Tomo no Kai was born
by Sherry Ladd, Tomo no Kai President, 1980–1981, written in 1991
The birth year of Tomo no Kai – 1980. Tané Matsukata was the Headmistress, Principal, and Inspiration of Nishimachi International School. There was no new gymnasium/Auditorium/classroom building. Basketball games, the Food Fair, Graduation: all were held on the blacktop playground behind the Matsukata House.
The idea of Tomo no Kai was originated by several NIS parents who saw a need: teachers and staff were burdened with non-educational tasks in addition to their teaching responsibilities. The parents decided they could relieve the educators by utilizing the skills and talents of other parents to provide help. A proposal was presented to Miss Matsukata and Tomo no Kai was born.
The first year of Tomo no Kai’s existence was devoted to identifying volunteers who could provide help for teachers, organize the Food Fair, produce the NIS telephone Directory and facilitate communication between the school and the many cultures represented in the parent population. There were challenges involved. For years NIS staff had produced events such as the Food Fair. Accumulated knowledge of events that required months of preparation had to be transferred from experienced teachers to novice parents. Cross cultural communication blocks had to be overcome.
Though fund raising was not Tomo no Kai’s primary objective, it was an obvious need. Plans were being made for a new building and a monumental fund raising effort was under way. Tomo no Kai decided to help by sponsoring an auction. Items were collected, a date was selected and the First Annual NIS Auction was held on the spot where the new building now stands.
The Nishimachi Internationalist Issue Four, Fall 1982
DEVELOPMENT OFFICE* NEWS
What started out to be “castles in the air, a gymnasium for Nishimachi students,” is slowly but surely reaching actuality. Yes, we are now 1/4 of the way there.
Our architects, Mr. Masachika Murata and Mr. Edward Suzuki have started the groundwork on an initial plan. Mr. Robert Collins, chairman of the Building Committee, recently reported the architects’ intention of “integrating existing structures with new and recognizing that physical plant must be a reflection of the human characteristics of the organization, and not the determinant.”
Tomo no Kai will be sponsoring a harp concert by Naoko Yoshino (class of ’82) on February 28, 1983, a Japanese Dance Costume Show by Mari Takeuchi’s (class of ’76) family on March 15, 1983, and an Auction on April 16, 1983. As on-going projects, parents and staff are offering a variety of lessons from which the fees are donated to the Building Fund. All Nishimachi is working!!
The Nishimachi Internationalist Issue Seven, Spring 1985
THE NEW BUILDING
by Robert J. Collins, Building Committee Chairman
Shakespeare’s immortal words ringing from the stage. The subtleties of a Noh drama, bathed in light and color. The musical hilarity of Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. The Christmas pageant, with songs for children of all ages. Or, if you prefer, championship basketball – boys and girls, A and B teams. Tumbling, acrobatics, gymnastics of Olympic caliber. Volleyball and badminton – student, neighborhood, and all-Japan, all-Asia, perhaps worldwide participation.
The new Nishimachi International School Gymnasium/Auditorium will be completed in July, and open by the beginning of the 1985-86 school year. Due to the guidelines established by the school’s 1980 Environmental Workshop, the new structure considerably enhances Nishimachi’s physical plant.
The new building is exceptional in other ways as well. It is virtually paid for. At last count, over 1,450 corporations and individuals have contributed to its construction costs. This is not only a testimonial to the organizational skills of the fund-raising committee, but an indication of the awareness in the international community of the significance of Nishimachi’s educational programs. The Trustees and the Board of Directors join the faculty and administration in thanking all who have helped.
PHASE II (1987–1988)
The Nishimachi Internationalist
Issue Six, Summer 1984
The Board of Directors is looking forward to building Phase II, which will house 6 classrooms, shortly after the completion of the new building. Phase II is estimated to cost approximately 130 million yen and we anticipate applying again for tax-exempt status for this project.
The Nishimachi Internationalist
Issue Seven, Summer 1987
Campaign tops 90 million yen after six months
The NIS Board realizes that tuition funds are not enough to expand Nishimachi’s dual-language program in offering a quality education in English and Japanese, let alone pay for new construction.
Hence, the school launched a campaign in January to raise 250 million yen to retire the debt incurred in building the new Primary Building, putting Nishimachi on solid financial ground for the remaining three priorities: staff development/training, curriculum improvement and scholarships.
Consequently, through the school’s development efforts, Nishimachi continues to benefit from the support of many senior Japanese and foreign industry contacts as well as government and academic officials, all crucial to the school’s long-term growth.
Kazuno Expansion (1989-1990)
The Nishimachi Internationalist Issue Ten, 1989
NIS expands Kazuno
Kazuno is a place that most parents have never seen. But for the students, the two or three day Kazuno trip remains one of their favorite memories of Nishimachi. Kazuno has its own ambience, as any 4th-9th grader will tell you, but the camp has been showing the effects of time and nature for several years.
This past fall, the Board of Directors approved a budget of 50 million yen for basic improvements to the facility. Faculty members who use Kazuno in their programs contributed ideas and suggestions to a committee, who drew up a set of educational specifications.
In response to these specifications, the architect, Mr. Ozawa, submitted a striking and simple design. The plan calls for one main building, in the design of a large mountain cabin. The new building will have sleeping quarters downstairs and a big open living/dining/study area with a fireplace upstairs. The land will be cleared and leveled to allow maximum outdoor playing space.
The Nishimachi Internationalist Issue Twelve, 1990
by Doris Clevenger, teacher 1985–1990
“Going to Kazuno…” What that phrase means to each one of us! Just a year ago my fourth grade class was the last group of students to use Kazuno as it was then. This spring my present class was the first group to use Kazuno as it is now.
Can anyone describe the feeling as we tumbled out of the taxies with our baggage, of seeing the massive, welcoming structure that has become “the new Kazuno?” The sheer size of the place was astonishing, …but would it work?
Before we settled into the new structure, we got familiar with the old. I reminded the students of the Arai and Matsukata heritage, and of some of the events that had taken place in that beautiful, simple building, the kura. We opened its sets of doors and entered into its dark, well-worn spaces with respect. A short sketching session of the exterior followed and our transition was complete. We were ready to be part of renewed opportunities at Kazuno.
As usual one of the students said it best. “This is high tech, Mrs. Clevenger.” And so it was. But with amado on the first floor, a sheltered deck, and a spacious genkan we were surrounded by comfortable features that made us feel at ease. The rugged pine tables and chairs and the fireplace in the lofty second floor dining room begged to be put to use during chill, wet weather.
And the kitchen… with three sinks where the ten year old washers of dishes could accomplish their task three times as fast, with one area at each sink. Pairs of students slicing fruits and vegetables found easy harmony in this sunny it’s-fun-to-be-here kitchen.
Cozy but separate bunk beds meant no more waking up whenever someone turned over or coughed; hot showers means the fourth graders (and parents and teachers) slid into their sleeping bags, clean and warm.
And what of the old familiar Kazuno, you say? The good feeling, the high spirits, the cooperation; they’re still there in that setting we know so well. The excitement and adventure of the science expeditions; the cook-outs under the stars, the night hikes, they’re there too. And all of this, the old and the new, is tied together by the history of the place and its visible reminder, the unchanging kura.
PHASE III (1997-1999)
The Nishimachi Internationalist Issue Twenty-Two, 1997
Nishimachi Phase III New Building Project Status Report
by John Wilson, Principal, 1992-1998
November 4, 1997 will be an important and exciting day at Nishimachi. On that day Nishimachi students and their teachers from grades three through nine will begin classes in a brand-new school building. Designed by Phase I and II architect Edward Suzuki, the new building has been conceived and planned collaboratively by Nishimachi teachers and administrators to provide an outstanding physical environment of learning.
The Nishimachi Board of Directors and administration have for several years been discussing plans to replace the older buildings on the school campus with more modern, up-to-date facilities. Originally, 1999, the school’s 50th birthday, was proposed as a target for completion. Following the Great Hanshin Earthquake in January 1995, the school commissioned an earthquake safety study of the school buildings. The results of that study indicated Building “A” and Building “D” did not meet current earthquake standards. The Board of Directors, therefore, decided to replace the three older buildings on campus as quickly as reasonably possible to ensure the safety of all students, faculty and staff. While Building “E” was not considered to be an earthquake hazard, it was included in the plans for replacement because of age and space limitations.
The new building will accommodate approximately 250 students from grade 3-9. An elevator will provide access for the physically handicapped. Junior high classrooms will be larger than those cozy, little rooms in the Matsukata House.
Kindergarten Relocation (2002)
The Nishimachi Internationalist Issue Twenty-Nine, Spring 2002
Never an Empty Room
by Tom Walters, Headmaster, 1998-2004
In time for the next school year, NIS’s kindergarten will relocate to a new state-of-the-art facility across the street from the main campus. This is double the space kindergarten teachers currently have at their disposal in the existing kindergarten classroom and adds three large, airy classrooms, office space for faculty, a multipurpose room, and a rooftop playground to our facilities inventory. By the time school starts next fall, this will be a warm and welcoming environment for the class of 2012.
As a result of the kindergarten relocation, space on the main campus will soon be available for increasing overall classroom size in the lower elementary grades. We have had this expansion in mind for several years to relieve congestion and to meet the growing demands of an international community that places high value on multicultural education. Until this moment, however, it had not been feasible.
PHASE IV (2006-2008)
Phase IV Capital Campaign
Building Our Path Forward
Campaign Brochure, January 2007
Our Path Begins
One of the initiatives outlined in Nishimachi’s 2005 Strategic Plan calls for modifications of our existing facilities. To help sustain our school’s exceptional reputation, the time has come to expand and update these facilities. Your generous participation will help to enhance this school for present and future students, just as past families have done for us.
Objectives of Phase IV
• Construction of a new Media Center
• Redesign of Multipurpose Area
• Expansion of Kazuno Property
• Refit of Matsukata House