Culture Classes

JASWDC’s culture classes are an opportunity to learn more about Japanese arts and culture, from traditional to modern. Below is a list of the culture classes that we currently offer, with a description and a link to more information and registration. If you have more questions about any of these classes, please feel free to call the JASWDC office.


While you may be working from home due to COVID-19 precautionary measures, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on JASWDC language and culture classes!

Our team is hard at work to deliver a range of online content and classes that you can access from the comfort of your own home. Here’s what you can expect in the coming weeks from the Japan-America Society of Washington DC:

Enjoy cooking Japanese food from the comfort of your own kitchen!

JASWDC is planning to launch a series of Japanese cooking classes hosted on Zoom Meetings and led by JASWDC food aficionado Nancy Sensei!

Recipes will chosen based on ingredients that are easily accessible and can be found in most pantries. Upon registration all participants will be sent a list of ingredients and the video conference code. During the class you will be able to enjoy cooking alongside Nancy Sensei in real time with the ability to ask questions and compare dishes.

For expressions of interest, please click here.

Are you an intermediate to advanced Japanese language learner? Tired of studying by yourself or looking to improve your spoken Japanese skills?

JASWDC is organizing several networking lunches in Japanese for members and non-members to participate from the comfort of their own homes! Each lunch will be hosted on Zoom Meetings and will focus on a discussion topic, giving participants the chance to practice Japanese with native and advanced speakers.

For expressions of interest, please click here.

Weekly Nihongo videos (#WeeklyNihongo), posted each Friday on our Facebook page (@jas.wdc), are bite-sized Japanese language and culture lessons: our short posts and videos, planned and written by native Japanese speakers and advanced learners, are designed to teach you basic Japanese grammar and other aspects of the Japanese language.

We also want to share with you interesting and fun aspects of the Japanese language to help you better understand how it works in and out of Japan.

Inspired by our Japan in a Suitcase program, we will be sharing fun and easy Japanese-themed craft and culture activities for kids to enjoy throughout the week! These videos will be shared on our Facebook (@jas.wdc), and Instagram (@jaswdc) pages.

For more information on Japan in a Suitcase click here.


Shodo (Calligraphy) Classes

JASWDC’s shodo classes are for both beginners as well as more advanced students. Classes cover all the basics of Japanese calligraphy, from handling tools properly to brushstrokes and artistic techniques. Students can expect to form a foundation or grow their knowledge of calligraphy with projects, weekly kanji practices, and tips from an accomplished calligraphy expert.

About the Instructor: Satomi Shoko China started learning calligraphy at age four and follows the Nihon-shuji school of calligraphy.. Currently, she is the head of the Japan Calligraphy Washington DC West branch. Previously, she studied under Suichiku Emura, a designated national heritage calligraphy artist. In 1989 she received her pen name “Shoko (brilliant light)” from Harada Kanpou, the founder of Nihon Shuji. She began practicing her art in the Kanpou hall in NYC from 1996, and proposed an “opera calligraphy performance” through art therapy and music therapy. In addition to the Soho Puffin Gallery and NY Orensanz Museum, she guest appeared in numerous art shows in Japan and the US and received favourable reviews. She is currently concentrating her efforts on raising the next generation of artists and promulgating artistic cultural technique.

The timing of the classes depends on the teacher’s availability. If information is not on our website in the Upcoming Events section, please check with JASWDC for the next Shodo class.

Lunchtime Yoga in Japanese

Would you like to make your lunch time calm and relaxing with yoga? With slow movements and deep breathing, you will learn different Yoga forms. The class will be instructed in Japanese so you will not only get a chance to relax but to increase your Japanese language skills. You will also be able to energize your body by freeing the mind and heart, and will find a balance of both the mind and body. This class is for beginner to experienced students and for all levels of Japanese.

About the Instructor: Akiko Chan began teaching yoga in Tokyo in 2005, and has since then opened her own yoga studio in Tokyo and published a book on the practice. She is currently a yoga instructor at Yoga District and is a guest instructor at Capitol Hill Yoga. She studied Ashtanga yoga with Sharath Jois, the director of the Ashtanga Institute in Mysore, India and also completed the Yoga Instructors’ Certificate Course with the Indian Yoga Institute in India.

The timing of the classes depends on the teacher’s availability. If information is not on our website in the Upcoming Events section, please check with JASWDC for the next Yoga class.

Ikebana Class

Ikebana, which literally translates to “living flowers,” is the art of Japanese flower arrangement. There are over 1,000 schools of ikebana both in Japan and abroad, and it is considered a classic art form. Rather than simply arranging flowers to look pleasing, ikebana blends together philosophy, teachings of harmony and minimalism, and symbolism to create meaningful works.

The textbooks for the course are bilingual books from the Sogetsu school. Students can also obtain a certification in Ikebana from the Sogetsu school through completing the courses.

This course offers certification in the Sogetsu-style school of ikebana simply by attending and participating in the classes. 

About the Instructor: Sachiko Ogata is a certified Sogetsu-style instructor with 35 years of teaching experience and more than 50 years of training in Japan. She served as Regional Director for the Sogetsu Ikebana League from 201o to 2014.

JASWDC is pleased to begin offering courses from September 2018 on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. Ikebana classes are offered in Japanese, with a JASWDC staff member present to translate into English for the class of the first Tuesday of the month. If information is not on our website in the Upcoming Events section, please check with JASWDC for the next ikebana class.

Monthly Kimono Class

Kimono is traditional clothing from Japan, which has been formed by harmonizing with nature and social surroundings throughout Japanese history. When wearing a kimono, one becomes a living sculpture. The kimono is very much praised worldwide for its beauty. The first time kimono learner will begin mastering yukata, the most fundamental kimono. Yukata is a casual summer kimono worn after taking a bath or at summer festivals. Please wear a V-neck top, slippery spandex pants, and have your hair up for the class. Please remove all jewelry. You can either bring your own set of kimono or rent one by requesting in advance. The class includes one follow up e-mail evaluation to your homework photos.

The timing of the classes depends on the teacher’s availability. If information is not on our website in the Upcoming Events section, please check with JASWDC for the next class.

Cooking Classes

Our cooking classes are designed to help you bring Japanese authentic cuisine to your own kitchen. Sponsored by San-J, these classes are held throughout the year and give you a real, hands-on opportunity to learn how to make Japanese food. Bring home the recipe and the experience so that you can have a new special dish to put on the table!

In the past, the cooking classes have made okonomiyaki, shio-yaki salmon, takoyaki, onigiri, and tamagoyaki (rolled omelette), among other dishes.

JASWDC cooking classes are taught by Society staff and volunteers. Cooking classes are offered 5 times a year and will be posted in the Upcoming Events section.

Other Cultural Classes

Throughout the year JASWDC offers a variety of Japanese and American cultural activities, including learning activities. In the past, JASWDC has conducted sushi making workshops, kitsuke (kimono dressing) workshops, “Living in the USA” Seminars, sake and shochu workshops, and many other events. Please see our Upcoming Events page for special classes/workshops that may not be listed here.

Due to the developing COVID-19 situation, JASWDC has moved to postpone the Sakura Matsuri - Japanese Street FestivalRead More