Private Japanese school in Lomita innovates at center to deepen intercultural appreciation – Daily Breeze


A private Japanese school in Lomita on Wednesday opened a cultural center which it hopes will serve as a resource and meeting space for community groups as it seeks to raise awareness and expand its educational mission.

California’s Nishiyamato Academy, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary on Thursday, teaches primarily the children of Japanese expatriates and is the only private school on the West Coast accredited by the country’s Department of Education.

The new $ 500,000 Nishiyamato Culture and Innovation Center will be a 2,500 square foot modular building that will house a 5,000-volume library as well as a retractable stage and computerized research stations.

Katsuyuki Nishikawa, president of the bilingual school that teaches toddlers to ninth graders, said the new building is more than just a library.

“This will be our new, bigger and much better bridge to the community… to create and foster more opportunities for community and cultural exchange,” he said.

The academy started in Japan, where it is now considered the third best performing university education institution in the country, based on the number of students entering the university.

Today, the American academy accommodates around 850 students on four campuses, including another in South Bay and others in Irvine and San Jose according to the Japanese school calendar. About 70 percent of the program is taught in Japanese, the rest in English.

The new school year begins on Thursday.

Spearheading the construction of the new cultural center on its Lomita Boulevard campus was the school’s director general, Natsuko Tanose.

His parents founded the original school in Japan, and 22 years ago Tanose emigrated to establish one in the United States.

Important part of the community

On Wednesday, she marveled aloud at how a modest preschool had become an increasingly important part of the Japanese American community.

The goal is to complete the cultural center by September.

Most of the construction will take place off-site, before a truck delivers the building; it will take another three weeks before students and community groups can move in.

“I sincerely hope that the Nishiyamato Innovation and Cultural Center will be a new place to nurture creativity and deepen our international learning experience,” said eighth-grade student Kanon Nakahari, vice president of the student body, in a speech. pronounced in both English and Japanese. .

“As a Japanese school located in the United States,” she added, “I hope that the Nishiyamato Academy in California becomes a welcoming place where people of all ages can experience Japanese and American cultures. “

For expats and more

Japanese expats like Palos Verdes Estates resident Aya Ojawa hope her school-going 10-year-old son will benefit from the cultural center by being exposed to activities outside the classroom that remind him of his Japanese roots as he does it today when it classifies.

And Gardena resident Jeannie Hardie, who has two children who attend school, hopes the center will similarly deepen an appreciation for Japanese and American cultures, even though she and her husband are from the Deep South and don’t. have no Japanese blood.

“I don’t think a language (and a culture) can be learned in a classroom, and I love that they bring everything here,” she said. “They learn to cook traditional Japanese and American dishes, they are taught to practice Japanese arts and American art.

“It helps my kids to be in the East and in the West and to choose how they see the world in any situation,” she added. “I like this.”

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