The number of French people living in Kyoto City is increasing rapidly. According to Kyoto City's Basic Resident Register, the number of citizens with French nationality doubled from 357 in 2013 to 715 in 2022. Although the number is lower than that of Chinese or American citizens, it is the highest among European countries, and the growth rate is also among the top. There are many places of employment such as universities and companies, and in addition to the favorable conditions that make it easy for children to learn, it seems that the background is that work styles have become more flexible after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students and parents selling French cuisine and sweets at the school festival celebrating the 25th anniversary of the foundation.

A soft intonation that differs from English resounds in the schoolyard. Kyoto France International Academy, located in the former Yurin Elementary School (Gojo Agaru, Tominokoji, Shimogyo Ward), will hold a school festival to celebrate its 25th anniversary in early June. It was bustling with more people.

The Kyoto France International School is bustling with people at the school festival celebrating its 25th anniversary. Not only French but also multinational students gather (Kyoto Shimogyo Ward, former Yurin Elementary School)

Kyoto France International Academy is authorized by the French government, allowing students to receive the same education as in France. The school had 14 students when it was established in 1997, but as of July this year, it has grown to 270 students, ranging from two-year-olds to high school students. The number has been steadily increasing for about 10 years, but the growth in recent years has been particularly remarkable, with an increase of about 100 people compared to two years ago. In the fall of this year, we plan to add a new high school building along Gojo-dori street.

Students playing in a band at the school festival celebrating the 25th anniversary of the foundation

The school accepts students of various nationalities, not just French. 60% of students have one of their parents with French nationality, 30% have non-French nationality, and 10% have Japanese parents. Many high school graduates go on to French higher education institutions, grandes écoles, or universities. Principal Colin Boris has high hopes that the school will serve as a bridge between France and Japan.

What is the reason why people from France choose to live in Kyoto? Christophe-Patrice Lemaire (44), one of the guardians of the Kyoto France International School and the jockey who holds the record of 215 wins (2018) in a year at Japan's central horse racing, is based in the Ritto Training Center (Ritto, Shiga Prefecture). City) and the existence of a school where children can receive an education in their home country.

"I also like the city of Kyoto." "It's a city where you can have everything, nature and culture are close at hand. I like the slow pace of life," says Lemaire. “There are many merchants, craftsmen, and researchers in the French community in Kyoto.

Michael (center) and Guillaume (left) explaining the work they are working on = HORIBA, Ltd., Minami-ku, Kyoto

Another parent, software developer Livoal Florian (41), was also attracted by the atmosphere of Kyoto and settled down. “I chose Kyoto because my job allows me to live anywhere,” he says. Tokyo is too big and uncomfortable, but "Kyoto is just right." It is said that there are many acquaintances who wish to live in Kyoto for a long time.

Some believe that the long working hours in Japan, which the French shy away from, have become more flexible after the pandemic. Bouilley Guillaume (36), who works for a group company of Horiba Ltd. (Minami Ward, Kyoto City), obtained a doctorate from Kyoto University and joined Horiba Ltd. in 2015. “French people prioritize their private lives, while Japanese people prioritize their work. Remote work has become widespread, and the fact that we can work in a relaxed manner in Japan is welcomed by the French,” he points out.

Mr. Irman, Consul General of France in Kyoto, says, “Kyoto is a special city for French people” (Sakyo Ward)

"Kyoto is a special city for French people," said Jules Irman (49), French Consul General in Kyoto. He took up his post in 2019 and has worked to strengthen relations between France and Kyoto. “The reason why the French government bases, such as the consulate general and the French-Japanese Institute in Kansai, are concentrated in Kyoto is because Kyoto values traditional culture and craftsmanship,” he explains. "Kyoto, the capital of Japanese culture, is our most reliable and important partner. We would like to continue to expand exchanges in order to create innovation."

Articles are excerpts from reports and news in the Kyoto Shimbun. Due to automatic translation, some expressions may not be accurate.