During the final day of the study program in Los Angeles we visited Pasadena Japanese Cultural Institute (PJCI) and joined the Japanese classes as student assistants in Mirai Nihongo Gakuin. PJCI has an important role in keeping and supporting the Japanese linguistic and cultural backgrounds in Pasadena, California. It aims to preserve and promote the awareness of and the appreciation for Japanese language and culture. I was very impressed by the mission, because this study tour in LA was all about the awareness of and the appreciation for Japanese existence, which included history, culture, and many other aspects. I really appreciated this study tour opportunity, because I became aware not only of knowledge-based information, but also of the real environment and life of Japanese Americans.
In Mirai Nihongo Gakuin, there are various kinds of classes for kids and adults. We, Toyo students, had opportunities to join the classes. I looked after the youngest students. I quickly learned that Mirai Nihongo Gakuin’s mission was to make learning Japanese fun and interactive. This is an excellent way to create an engaging environment for students who wish to learn about Japanese culture and language. The most amazing fact is that all the teachers are volunteers except teachers in Japanese classes. There are many opportunities to learn about Japanese cultural activities, for example, Nihon Buyo (Japanese traditional dance), calligraphy, martial arts and so on. It makes people in Pasadena communities aware of the importance of keeping a culture, especially in this case, Japanese culture.
PJCI has the youth exchange program to inform students of the US-Japan relationship. One of the college students who lives in Pasadena told me that her family is completely American, but she joined that program because she wanted to learn more about Japanese culture. There are many groups working to preserve Japanese traditions in Los Angeles. I strongly respect them, and I want to promote their mission.