Suzume No Gakko is a three week summer program that aims to spread awareness of Japanese and Japanese-American culture, as well as an appreciation for the San Jose Japantown community. The program was started 35 years ago by a group of parents who felt that there was a need to educate their children about JA culture, something that was absent in many families’ upbringings. The school has 1st thru 6th grade classes, each class focusing on a different aspect of JA culture. For example, the 1st grade theme is rice, while the 3rd grade theme is bamboo. In each grade, Nikkei heritage and culture is taught through various means: field trips to the tofu and manju shops, learning odori dancing, interviewing internees, or cooking common JA foods, such as spam musubi. Other ways of passing down Japanese culture include making miniature Japanese gardens, ikebana, and learning Japanese phrases. In addition to teaching about Nikkei heritage and culture, the Suzume No Gakko program also serves to instill a sense of community in the youth. Trips to the Yu-Ai Kai senior center are taken, during which the children give hand-made gifts to the seniors. The children also take a tour around Japantown, witnessing the behind-the-scenes workings of the manju shop and watching San Jose Taiko perform. Suzume No Gakko has become an important aspect of Japantown, and many of its students become greatly involved in the community. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or send mail to Suzume no Gakko, P.O. Box 5756, San Jose, CA 95150.
Lotus Preschool is a private, non-profit preschool operated and located at the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin. Lotus serves children 2 years through pre-Kindergarten and emphasizes a developmental program with outdoor and indoor activities, field trips, and various enrichment programs. The children attend a daily Buddhist service and learn about the Japanese culture. The Lotus preschool uses an interactive curriculum, believing in play-based learning. For more information call (408) 293-1612.
San Jose Betsuin Japanese Language School focuses on teaching Japanese and Japanese culture to students. Class is generally on Saturdays, and in many ways this school helps keep the youth involved in the community, while learning the language! For more information call (408) 293-1171.