The aim of this report is to provide basic information about the historical development, current status and future needs of education and training of dental hygienists in Japan. The first formal training of dental hygienists in Japan started at Tokyo in 1949. Restructure and modification of the dental hygiene education system has been reiterated over the years in order to satisfy the needs of the constantly changing society. Although previously only vocational training was provided for dental hygienists, higher-level education has been conducted. The present legislation of dental hygiene has gone through a complicated process. The student should take the dental hygienist licensing examination which is held once a year by the National Board organized by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. Currently there are 136 dental hygiene schools and the total enrolment is about 7000. The duration of dental hygiene education course has been prolonged from 2 to 3 years since 2001. In 2004, the 4-year course started. The 2-year dental hygiene education program is expected to be replaced with the 3- and 4-year courses by 2010. The dental hygiene education system in Japan will be improved in many ways as dental hygienists are expected to participate in health promotion and preventive care, and to gain knowledge of the economics and organization of health care in relation to oral hygiene.