• Students must be enrolled in school between third and eighth grade. 

  • Students must be registered with the Tokyo Spelling Bee and have paid the full cost of registration. 

  • Students must have a temperature below 38 degrees Celsius on the day of the Tokyo Spelling Bee.

  • Students must agree to abide by Tokyo Spelling Bee's COVID-19 prevention measures. 



Prior to the event, the order in which spellers approach the podium will be determined through randomization. On the day of the event, students will be asked to sit in their determined order throughout the entire competition. The Tokyo Spelling Bee will be conducted in rounds, single elimination. Spellers will approach the podium and receive their word. Spellers will have two and a half minutes for the speller's requests and to spell their word completely. Once a speller begins their word, they cannot change, remove, or alter the sequence of letters uttered. While a speller can retrace their spelling, they must not replace or shift any of their letters they previously uttered. If the speller is correct, they will return to their seat. If the speller is incorrect, the speller immediately drops out of the competition.


End-of-Bee Format: Each speller will be asked to spell one word per round until there are only two spellers remaining. When there are two finalists remaining, the end-of-bee procedure will begin. 

Each speller will be given their own word to spell. If both spellers spell their word correctly, the next round will begin. Similarly, if neither speller spells their word correctly, they will continue to another round. If we enter a round where only one of the two spellers correctly spelled their word, the correct speller will be given a championship word. If they are able to spell this championship word correctly, they will be declared the winner of the bee. If they do not spell the championship word correctly, our finalists will continue the end-of-bee procedure until a winner is declared. 

End-of-bee format may also be applied to a round with more than two spellers, if all the other spellers in a round incorrectly spell their words. 


Homonyms: If a word has one or more homonyms, the pronouncer will indicate which word is to be spelled by defining the word. 


Speller's Requests: During the first two minutes of a speller's allotted time, the speller can request from the pronouncer a definition, sentence, part of speech, or language(s) of origin. Requests for alternate definitions, as well as slower pronunciation, will not be granted.



The following behaviors and actions will automatically disqualify a speller: 

  • Does not fulfill all of the Tokyo Spelling Bee's eligibility criteria, including our COVID procedures. 

  • Disrupts the competition. This is defined as (but not limited to) speaking to other spellers or audience members during the competition, having and using technology during the competition, engaging in unsportsmanlike behavior, or causing a distraction for any other spellers. Tokyo Spelling Bee will have the discretion and final decision on whether a student is causing a disruption that constitutes disqualification. 

  • Refuses a request to start spelling. Students must begin spelling at the 2 minute mark. 

  • Alters the letters or sequence of letters from those first uttered when retracing a spelling.

  • Utters unintelligible or nonsense sounds in the process of spelling.


Below are some example scenarios to aid in your understanding of the Tokyo Spelling Bee's rules: 


Example: In Round 5, a speller begins to spell the word "Chariot", but adds an extra "i" after "a". They attempt to retrace their spelling and in the process remove the "i" they uttered previously. The speller is eliminated. 


Example: In Round 3, a speller begins to spell the word "Lilac" correctly, but decides to retrace their spelling, not changing or rearranging any of the letters they previously uttered. The speller completes the word correctly and continues to the next round of the competition. 


Example: In Round 8, a speller is asked to spell the word "Alloy". Unsure of whether the word has one or two "l"s, the speller does not properly enunciate this part of the word, hoping this may cover the mistake. The speller is eliminated. 


Example: There are four spellers in Round 16. Three of the four spellers misspell. The fourth speller begins Round 17 - a one-word round - and is offered the anticipated championship word. The speller misspells the championship word. The three spellers eliminated during round 16 are reinstated back into the competition for Round 18. 


Example: There are two spellers in Round 17. End-of-bee procedure begins. Both finalists are given their words. The first speller misspells, as does the second speller. Both finalists continue to Round 18. This time, the first speller spells correctly, as does the second speller. Both finalists continue to Round 19. The first speller spells correctly, whereas the second speller does not. The first speller is given the opportunity to answer a potential championship word. The first speller correctly spells the championship word and is declared champion. 


Example: There are two spellers in Round 14. End-of-bee procedure begins. The first speller misspells, while the second speller answers correctly. The second speller is given the opportunity to answer a potential championship word, but spells it incorrectly. The two finalists continue to Round 15 and are given a new word to spell.

Subscribe to our newsletter for updates!

Thanks for submitting!