Findlay Students Attend Japanese Saturday School

. May 31, 2019.
Students Ema Mitani Akiyuki Kado Haruki Asaoka Sora Toma and Hinata Ooi participate in fun games.

School doesn’t run just Monday through Friday for Japanese students in Findlay, as they also attend a special school on Saturdays! The Japanese Saturday school in Toledo, presents an important link between the students and Japan.

Connection to home

Established in 1990, the school is located at the Maumee Valley Country Day School in a rented part of the facility. According to Japanese Saturday school principal Mrs. Mariko Johnston and chairman Satoshi Mano, the school currently serves 44 students, around half of whom come from Findlay. For Japanese students who are in the U.S. temporarily, Mano said, the school provides supplemental education so that students catch up more quickly when they return to Japan. For Japanese students who are living in the U.S. permanently, Japanese Saturday School provides language education to maintain their native language skills.

Lessons in language, math and more

Johnston described a normal schedule for the Japanese Saturday school: “We get the same textbooks students use in Japan, so our curriculum includes a six-period day. There are three periods for Japanese language arts, two for math, and one for music, calligraphy, social studies, or a birthday party.” While the school primarily serves younger students, it can provide lessons for students up through the 12th grade, explained Johnston.

Time to unwind

The 13 teacher school also serves another important function for students. “When they come here, most of the students are studying English, so the Saturday school is kind of their paradise. They can express themselves in Japanese and people around them can understand,” Johnston said. “They like to come every Saturday, even though it means they have to come to school six days a week, and there’s homework.”

Three students from the Saturday Japanese School Chiho Okamoto Nina Franklin and Erika Yabuki Dress in Traditional Kimonos for a school celebration.

Preserving cultural traditions

Other cultural opportunities provided by the school include “mochitsuki [LW1]” —a traditional Japanese ceremony to make mochi, a rice cake. Mochi can be eaten year-round, but is a food typically used to celebrate New Year’s Day. The school offers families an opportunity to make the traditional dish.

Japanese Saturday school also helps students learn traditional Japanese calligraphy, and many students also take private lessons in this ancient art. The school also has many annual school and cultural events for students, including a New Year’s Celebration and a spring athletic festival.