Looking to request a visit? Visit this page.

JiS is a free program which packs a little bit of Japan in a suitcase and brings it to children at schools, libraries and festivals in the greater Washington, DC area. This program promotes understanding of Japan and Japanese culture to school children from kindergarten and up through presentations, hands-on activities, games and demonstrations.

In the past, JiS has also visited the Japanese Ambassador’s residence, the U.S. Department of State, and the Library of Congress for Japanese culture-related educational programs. Each year, we visit over 40 schools, libraries, and organizations, and reach out to over 2000 children in elementary and middle schools.

School Visits 

The Japan-in-a-Suitcase program primarily visits local public and private elementary schools. A team of JiS presenters come to the school with a suitcase filled with all kinds of things – a traditional Japanese backpack with all its contents, kimono and yukata, newspapers, maps, and more – that illustrate contemporary life in Japan.

During a JiS visit, students:

  • learn basic Japanese greetings and words
  • get a hands-on look at the daily school life of Japanese elementary students
  • practice origami (the art of paper folding)
  • practice writing Japanese
  • try on traditional clothing
  • and more!

JiS tailors each presentation to the school’s curriculum, the teacher’s desires, the time available, and the students’ ages and/or grade level. No two presentations are exactly alike, but they all achieve the same goal: to introduce children to Japan beyond the traditional classroom setting and interest them in the world beyond their shores.

Japan-in-a-Suitcase presentations are between 45-60 minutes long and can be given to any number of students and classes. We have gone to classes with 7 children and taught assemblies with almost 200 students. We are also able to come to schools multiple times and spread out our curriculum.

Sample Assembly Lesson Plan for Elementary School
Sample 5 Time Visit Lesson Plan for Elementary School

If you are a teacher interested in arranging a school visit for your students, please click here for the procedures and an application. Please note that JiS only visits schools that are metro accessible and that we require transportation be provided by the school if it is too far to walk. If you have any questions, please contact us at jisdc@jaswdc.org.

Visit Japan at your Library

Conducted by our staff, interns, and volunteers at area public libraries during the summer months, this program offers an interactive, hand-on learning experience for children. The libraries also display books about Japan for the children to borrow and take home.

If you are a library that would be interested in hosting a “Visit Japan at your Library” day over school vacations, please click here for the procedures and an application or contact us with questions at jisdc@jaswdc.org.

Japan Festival Booth

We also set up booths at elementary school cultural fairs and international festivals, as well as at other public and private events. The content at our Japan festival booth is aimed at elementary students and promotes an understanding of Japan through fun crafts and games. If you are planning an event and would like us to show Japanese culture with origami, kimono fashion shows, traditional children’s games and more, please click here for the procedures and an application or contact us with questions at jisdc@jaswdc.org.


We are always looking for volunteers who have first-hand experience with Japanese culture. Americans who have lived in Japan or Japanese citizens who are currently living in the DC area are strongly encouraged to volunteer. You are sure to love interacting with all the friendly and eager children at our events. Thank you in advance for your help!

If you would like to volunteer for Japan-in-a-Suitcase, please go to this page and fill out the form to begin the process.


Do you want to know what is going on with our educational programs today? Interested in a presentation on a specific aspect of Japanese culture? Just contact us!