Culture and Education


Teaching About Japan

Several organizations in the New England area and elsewhere work with academics to encourage and promote the teaching of Japanese language and culture, particularly at the precollegiate level.

Five College Center for East Asian Studies

Florence Gilman Pavilion, 69 Paradise Road, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063
Tel. 413-585-3751
Fax. 413-585-3748

Among its other activities, the Five College Center for East Asian Studies, for example, supports the teaching of East Asian cultures in elementary, middle- and secondary schools, and two-year colleges in New England. To this end, the Center sponsors and participates in conferences, workshops, lectures, and discussion groups for teachers throughout the region. The Center publishes a newsletter and maintains a library, which includes videos, kits, books, curriculum, slides, and recordings, which are available on a free-loan basis to New England-based K-14 educators.

The Japan Foundation Los Angeles Office & Language Center

333 South Grand Ave., Suite 2250, Los Angeles, CA 90071
Tel. 213-621-2267
Fax: 213-621-2590

The Japan Foundation Los Angeles Office & Language Center was established in 1992 to provide comprehensive assistance to Japanese language teachers throughout North America.

Boston Children's Museum

At the Boston Children's Museum, the Harvard East Asian Program is a resource center for teaching and learning about Japan and other areas of East Asia. Serving many audiences, such as schoolchildren and their teachers, librarians, university students, community organizations, and families, the program makes available a comprehensive set of resources. These include exhibits such as the multimedia "Teen Tokyo" and "Kyo-no-Machiya," an authentic rebuilt merchant's house brought from Kyoto, multimedia kits (subjects include calligraphy, Children's Day and New Year's celebrations, and the Japanese family), a resource center, workshops, school visits, and consultations.


StarFestival offers interactive education for social studies curricula at the secondary level, with the current line of products, StarFestival: Exploring Cultural Heritage. At its core is the award-winning CD-ROM, Star Festival...a return to Japan, conceptualized and tested in Shigeru Miyagawa's laboratory at MIT. The team of MIT specialists who created StarFestival worked with social studies teachers from the Boston Public School District to create a three-week module on Japan containing a language component for learners (and teachers) with no Japanese background. Along with a complete curriculum for the teacher, there are web-based exercises for the students, including work they can do with their classmates and families. The Boston Public School District has become the first large district to adopt the program system-wide.

Certification for Japanese language teachers in the New England area is provided by Tufts University and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Although these programs are operated under the authority of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, reciprocity agreements have been signed with each of the other five New England states.

Japan Forum

Dai-ichi Seimei Bldg., 26th Fl., 2-7-1 Nishi-Shinjuku,
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 163-07
Tel. 5322-5211
Fax. 5322-5215

In Japan, the Japan Forum offers programs supporting Japanese-language education in elementary and secondary schools overseas. The Forum's web site includes lesson plans for understanding culture, K-12 Japanese-language curriculum guidelines, Japanese-language teaching materials for children, and news on Japanese-language education.