On the third floor of the Creative Arts Design Center there is a unique room. This is the Japan Center. Contrasting the industrial design of the CADC’s other spaces, the Japan Center features shōji doors, tatami flooring and a wholly Japanese decor.
Although we are American in name, ASIJ is an international institution with students from 38 different nationalities. Our faculty and students are globally active, with programs such as Abot Kamay and Habitat for Humanity, and they also maintain close ties with the Japanese community. In addition to relief efforts, we participate in cultural exchanges, compete in sports and provide a venue for specialists from a range of concentrations. Part of the Japan Center’s mission is to strengthen these relationships with the community and promote an authentic Japanese experience.
The Japan Center is currently operated by Co-directors Mariko Yokosuka and Kyoko Takano. Their goal is to not only strengthen current programs and relationships, but to also serve as a bridge between the school community and the communities of Japan. The Japan Center will build new relationships, creating opportunities for our students to connect with Japanese history, culture and society. They hope that through a better understanding of traditional and modern culture, the ASIJ community can develop a more meaningful connection to Japanese society. Eager to move forward, Kyoko and Mariko have already spoken to Rikkyo High School’s Vice Principal regarding future collaborations in cultural exchanges and Design Thinking projects.
The Japan Center also hosted its first class activity last Friday, September 4. In preparation for Otsukimi, the Japanese festival honoring the autumn moon, Kyoko and Mariko read なぜお月さまにおそなえをするの？ (Naze Otsukisama ni osonae wo suru no?) to elementary Japanese classes. The story explains the meaning behind Japan’s moon viewing and offerings of the autumn harvest to the moon.
Students also visited the CADC’s collaborative space where they wrote opinions of the story and ideas for the Japan Center in both English and Japanese. The experience ended with our ES students learning the art of paper folding, origami.