What are Hoikuens and Yochiens?

For some of you with preschool children, childcare system in Japan may appear a little complicated. There are two types of childcare centers called “Hoikuen” and “Yochien”, and both facilities take care of preschoolers during the day.

Well, the difference is like this:

Hoikuen Yochien
Objectives Provide childcare service at the request of guardians Provide children appropriate environments to soundly develop their body and mind
Age Group Under primary school age, accepted from 0 years old Under primary school age, accepted from 3 years old
Average Time Frames of Childcare Service 7am to around 6pm
(Average time length: 8 hours)
9am to around 2pm
(Average time length: 4.5 hours)
Cost To be decided based on guardian’s income situations by local governments To be decided by operators (private institutions) and local governments (public institutions)
School Lunch A “MUST” Options
Teacher Qualifications Daycare nurse Kindergarten teacher license
Administrative Jurisdiction Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology
Regulations Child Welfare Act School Education Act


We can see that Hoikuens and Yochiens are established based on different intentions. The system used to appear straightforward when there were only few working mothers in Japan.

However with more and more women in the workforce these days, Hoikuens are facing an exploding demand. This is why working mothers also consider Yochiens as their options when they cannot get spots in Hoikuens for their children – or when they think their local Hoikuen does not provide ideal educational programs. In fact some Yochiens do have some flexibility in the hours so that working mothers can consider sending their children.

We are always happy to support mothers on gathering parenting information in their neighborhoods. Let us know and we can help your Hoikuen/Yochien visits and go through the complicated application process with you 🙂


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