The deadline to apply for fall 2024 admission to Keisho Center was April 30, 2024. For more information, please email

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Washington Japanese Heritage Center (Keisho) is hosting an open house for families of students interested in learning Japanese language and culture.

Date: August 27, 2016
Time: 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM

The Washington Japanese Heritage Center ("Keisho Center"), opened in April 2004, is a place for children and families residing in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area to learn and explore their Japanese linguistic and cultural heritages. We are located at the beautiful Norwood School just off I-495 in Bethesda, MD.

Quick Overview
  • Students working in small classes and mixed-age groups
  • A hands-on, student-centered approach involving all of our students in a variety of projects and activities
  • Our main goal is to foster a desire to continue learning Japanese language and culture
Additional Information
To inspire a lifelong love for Japanese language and culture.

The Washington Japanese Heritage Center (Keisho Center) is designed to meet the needs of families residing here permanently or for the foreseeable future who want their children to learn the language and culture of their heritage. Keisho Center provides:
  • An environment tailored to the needs of each child so as to develop a life-long interest in Japanese culture while maintaining and expanding their Japanese language skills.
  • A student-centered curriculum based on Progressive Education theory to increase the children's knowledge of Japanese culture as well as maintain and develop their skills in the language.
  • An opportunity to study in an atmosphere that respects each child as an individual, building their self-esteem and social skills so that each child can become a contributing member of the communities.
For those families who plan to live outside Japan, there are few opportunities to use Japanese on a daily basis. While traditional methods of studying of Japanese often lead to frustration, Keisho Center goal is to develop a desire in each child to continue learning throughout his or her life. Come join us!

Some of our students have Japanese family members. Others have lived in Japan and want to continue learning Japanese. We do our best to welcome everyone. Students should be motivated to come to Keisho and learn, have some Japanese language ability, be able to understand and follow basic age-appropriate instructions in Japanese, and have a home environment that supports their Japanese language studies.

Program Overview
Keisho Center provides a natural learning environment where children develop their knowledge about current and traditional Japanese culture, Japanese history, and Japanese language skills. Our children build their self-esteem, self-confidence, and the social skills needed to support their lives in both Japanese and American communities.

Keisho Center offers a developmentally appropriate approach where each child can learn at his/her own pace. We recognize that each child has a unique learning style and particular strengths and weaknesses. It is very important for our children to realize that they can learn by themselves and that learning is a joy. Our children develop critical thinking skills which they apply to academic and social problems in both Japanese and American cultural contexts.

Keisho Center recognizes that our multicultural children are in a unique, fortunate, and sometimes difficult situation of living in two worlds, Japanese and American. Our program views and helps develop the whole child, supporting and validating their cognitive, social, emotional and artistic development.

The Standards for Foreign Language Learning issued by the National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project identifies the essential 5 C's of any language program:
  • Communication: Language is always a tool for communication, which can take place face-to-face, in writing, and/or reading. At the Japanese Heritage Center, children have a variety of opportunities to communicate with their peers in many different ways.
  • Culture: Exposure to another language leads to new knowledge and understanding of the culture that uses that language, in this case, Japanese.
  • Connection: Learning another language provides a connection to a whole new set of knowledge and a different perspective on the world.
  • Comparing: Encountering another culture provides language learners with a basis for comparison and evaluation. By comparing Japanese and American cultures and languages, children expand and enrich their own personal culture, knowledge, and experience, as well as their views of the world.
  • Communities: Learning another language also gives children an opportunity to be able to participate in multilingual communities both at home and around world in many different ways. Learning a language and culture in this environment fosters the development of an open mind, insightful viewpoints, and acceptance of others.

Integrated Curriculum
At Keisho Center, the Japanese language is taught as a part of an integrated curriculum, not in isolation. Children use the language as a tool for listening, speaking, reading and writing, while working on individual and small group projects. While a variety of instructional strategies are used, the primary model is a hands-on approach with cooperative groups.

Teaching and learning occur in a child-centered, open-ended environment. Each child finds his/her own learning style and life-long interest in Japanese culture and language while maintaining and expanding their current language skills in both Japanese and English. Peer teaching in cooperative, multi-age groups helps guide the children toward becoming independent, self-directed learners.

Our classroom style gives children a sense of community, helping children develop many friendships at the Japanese Heritage Center while they work together to learn and discover something new - learning which may not be available from a book. At Keisho Center, children develop a sense of responsibility, self-respect and pride in the fact they belong to both Japanese and American communities by acquiring the cultures of their heritage in an enjoyable learning environment.

Class placement is based upon each student's age or current grade and their Japanese language ability. Their learning and practice are facilitated by our teachers:
  • CARR Rie
    Associate degree in Early Childhood Education, Kurume Shin-Ai Women's College.Certificate in kindergarten education. Online and hybrid Japanese tutor. U.S.Navy Graduated Command Master Chief spouse leadership course.
  • EBISAWA Mika
    Master's degree, Yokohama National University Graduate School of Education; teachers certificates: kindergarten, elementary, middle and high schools
  • ENDO-DAVIS Coreen
    B.A. Mass Communication Studies, University of California, Los Angeles; Elementary Education Certificate, Chaminade University; ESL-trained with lead teacher experience at the elementary level; Substitute Teacher at Arlington Public Schools, Virginia
  • FUKAHORI Karin
    B.S. in Psychology, Virginia Tech, Pursuing a master's degree and licensure in Early Childhood Education, George Mason University
  • IWAI Kaori
    Ed.D. at Université Paris 13 and M.A. at Stanford University (Education); Engaged in educational programs at UN (UNESCO) and USAID over 10 years; Visiting Assistant Professor at the George Washington University (Japanese); Certified kindergarten teacher in Japan.
  • KOGA Tomomi
    B.A. in English, Kumamoto Gakuen University. Certificate in Advanced Japanese Language Teaching. Worked as a Japanese as a second language teacher and teacher trainer in Australia and in Japan.
  • KOSHIYA Keiko
    B.A. in Chemistry, Department of Liberal Arts, International Christian University (ICU); Translator/Editor
  • OSUMI Akiyo
    B.A. from University of Washington; major in Linguistics with special focus on Japanese Syntax and Semantics. Over 20 years of experience as a Japanese Linguist and Japanese language tutor.
  • SEAT Mina
    Ph.D. candidate at Fukuoka University Graduate School (ABD) in English linguistics and English and American literature. President at M&K Communication, Inc., Certified high school teacher in Japan, Adjunct Professor at University of Maryland Baltimore County.
  • SHIRATA Akane
    American University Adjunct Faculty, University of Maryland Global Campus Adjunct Faculty (TA), Master's degree in Early Childhood Special Education, Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education, Early childhood teaching certificate
  • SMITH Chie
    B.A. in Piano and Education, Senzoku Gakuen College of Music. Music teacher for Yokohama City Public Junior High Schools; Private Piano Teacher over 20 years' experience; Certified Calligraphist and Teacher of Calligraphy for Georgia Japanese Language School.
  • TEACHING ASSISTANTS (TA): Reiko Briscombe, Masayoshi Kamizono, Ayumi Keys, Kana Saeedi, and Yuhi Schaffran

Class Fees
  • Tuition: $785.00 per semester (One-time, full-year payment: $1470 ($100 discount))
  • Siblings: $735.00 (One-time, full-year: $1370 ($100 discount))
  • One-time admission fee: $40 (non-refundable)
  • Small book fee TBD for advanced classes

Class Schedule
Saturdays 9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Sakura Homeroom only: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

  • 2003
    • November - Start of Core Group
  • 2004
    • March - Incorporation in Virginia
    • April - Pilot program begins with 28 students in three classes
    • September - Classes held at Lowell School
    • October - IRS Non-Profit Designation
  • 2005
    • March - First performance at Annual Cherry Blossom Festival
    • September - Classes held at River Road Unitarian Congregation
  • 2006
    • September - Seitokai (student council) formed
  • 2008
    • January - First Mochi Tsuki held
    • June - First yearbook published
  • 2009
    • September - Student enrollment reaches 48 students in seven classes
    • December - First undokai held
  • 2011
    • September - Keisho moves to current home at Norwood School
  • 2012
    • September - Student enrollment reaches 88 students in eight classes
  • 2015
    • September - Student enrollment reaches 97 students
    • Pilot Adult Program begins with 10 students
  • 2019
    • Keisho Center celebrates its 15th anniversary
    • September - Student enrollment grows to 114 in nine homerooms
  • 2020
    • All Keisho Center classes met via distance learning March 2020 - June 2021 due to COVID emergency
    • Keisho Center receives Foreign Minister's Commendation

Since our founding in 2004, Keisho Center has grown from 35 students in three classes to over 115 students in nine classes. Our Center was founded by and for the community it serves. We've invited three of Keisho Center's founders and long-time Board Directors – Dr. Nao Koshiya, Kelly Richards, and Jeff Schwartz – to share their experiences of Keisho Center as it's grown and evolved over the years.

These visionaries saw the need for a venue like Keisho Center where heritage Japanese learners could sustain their love for Japan and explore their multilingual, multicultural heritages. We want to express our deepest gratitude to them for their tireless efforts over so many years to help our families sustain their connection to Japanese language and culture.



パイロットに向けた命名「ワシントン日本語継承センター」を受け私はドメインkeisho.orgを取得。ホームページは、開校前からセンターを必要とする家庭の指針となり、オンライン教材や教員による毎週のブログなど、初期のビジョンの構築に役立ったと自負している。Coreや教員のためのメールリストや Dropbox、Facebook、Twitter も立ち上げた。






Fond memories come flooding back of the first Keisho planning meetings at coffee houses and around dining room tables where founding members were sharing thoughts, ideas and experiences while simultaneously trying to keep young children occupied. It was these gatherings that brought together a group of dedicated teachers, staff and volunteer families who envisioned a non-traditional approach to teaching heritage language and culture, and I feel fortunate to be part of this pioneer group committed to Keisho's mission.

Much has changed since Keisho's trial semester in spring of 2004. The first students enrolled are now young adults forging careers, the 'little ones' become the 'big kids' and there are always new young faces in their place. Along with the undokais, mochi tsukis and potlucks, Keisho grieved the losses of a founding member and a teacher, both beloved by our community. Every celebration and milestone are the result of trials, tribulations and 'lessons learned' that build Keisho's institutional foundation and character.

I am heartened by Keisho's continued growth while maintaining a nurturing environment for students and families. Teaching Japanese language and culture is the cornerstone of Keisho but appreciating each family's unique multicultural identity is what bonds this community. As my family is enriched by the friendships and lifelong memories created at Keisho, I am confident Keisho will be a place where not only knowledge of language is attained but love of culture is embraced and this will be Keisho's legacy.

I never set out to build an institution or establish a "heritage learning center." Keisho Center for me was a process that developed to meet a need; a need to that arose and then evolved when I married a Japanese woman, Ako, and we had a child, Rena. As a former English teacher, I feel the need to point out the intentional use of a passive voice rather than an active one in that previous sentence. The "process that developed" was not something I intentionally thought out and worked toward. I did not have a grand goal or vision. I had a child. And I was a former language teacher. I knew that language and identity are intertwined. I wanted to be sure that my daughter had a strong identity, a strong sense of self. That in turn required a deep, natural, what some would call 'native', understanding of the Japanese language.

I also knew that language and culture are one and the same. You cannot become well versed in one without really knowing the other. Konichiwa (こんにちは) requires a head bow; sumimasen (すみません) may require an even deeper bow for an apology or perhaps a slight bow with a smile for a show of gratitude or thanks. The meaning is in the context and the context is in the culture. So if I wanted my daughter to understand herself, she had to know and understand – and hopefully love and enjoy – both of her languages and cultures.

Ako and I started Rena in a Japanese toddler play group. That moved on to a pre-K, Sakura Yochien (さくら幼稚園) and then to Hoshuko (補習校) for elementary school. But the elementary school program was designed for students whose families planned to return to Japan and thus needed to keep up with the Japanese curriculum. There was a lot of homework required for first grade, more than I remembered doing as a high school student, and Rena was beginning to develop her own personality and interests. There just was not time for everything and it was becoming less fun to be Japanese.

It was then that Shigeru Tsubakitani and Andy Saidel approached Ako and myself about joining them to form a new program. In total, I think it was six families plus Akane Shirata who came together to talk, plan, design, and then implement what we eventually called Keisho Center (継承センター), the Washington Japanese Heritage Center. We chose 'keisho' to emphasize that we wanted our students connected to their heritage. We developed a format that would be less intense but facilitate learning by making it enjoyable and meaningful to our children's current environment. Each of us tapped into our specialties: Akane developed the curriculum, Shigeru brought his business sense, the Koshiyas added the traditional culture, and I helped formulate the school structure.

We incorporated with each family having one member on the board and loaning Keisho a few hundred dollars to start on. We obtained non-profit status, found classrooms we could rent on Saturday mornings, gathered our supplies, spread the word, and opened our pilot term fifteen years ago with 30 students, three teachers, and handful of parent volunteers. I cannot speak for the others, but it was not my intent to build an institution, to create a legacy that would continue to serve the community. But it is immensely pleasing to know that occurred and, after Rena, is probably my proudest achievement.

Keisho Center would like to express our sincere gratitude to our generous donors.

Coleman Family
Farrell Family
H.E. and Mrs. Fujisaki
Dr. Shoko Hamano
Japan Foundation Los Angeles
Japan Commerce Association of Washington
Komatsuzaki Family
Dr. and Mrs. Koshiya
Matsumura-Claxton Family
Dr. Edson Mori
Osawa Family
Dr. Jeff Schwartz
Ms. Mina Seat
Ms. Akane Shirata
Washington Tokyo Women's Club

Keisho Center's policies and procedures are listed below. Use the links to find out about specific policies.


Code of Conduct
Code of Conduct (日本語)
2024-25 Calendar
2023-24 Calendar
Family Account
Financial Aid
Family Responsibilities
Class Supplies
Drop-off and Pick-up
Late Arrival and Early Dismissal
Inclement Weather
Volunteers and Room Parents
Student Withdrawal Notice

Curriculum and Classes

Class Placement
Adult Program
Student Council
Independent Study
Community Service

Education Team

Education Team
Curriculum Coordinator
Teacher Assistants
Teacher Development
Expected Attributes of Teachers
Grievance Procedure
Employee Code of Ethics
CPR / First Aid / AED Certification
Background Checks

Core Group

Core Group
Volunteer Coordinator Responsibilities

Board of Directors

Board of Directors
Board Director Job Description

Directors Election and Terms

Board Directors' Terms and Rotation Schedule
Code of Ethics Policy
Code of Ethics
Conflicts of Interest
Conflict of Interest Certification
Officers of the Corporation
Decision-Making By Email


General Manager
IT / Webmaster
Admissions Assistant
Observation Waiver of Liability
Staff Attendance and Substitutes
Hiring Procedure
Pay Scale and Years of Service
Curriculum Rate
Classroom Observations
Reimbursement Form
Fundraising and Donations
Field Trip Permission Form

Keisho Family Account

The Keisho Family Account is available for families registered with the Keisho Center. Login required.

Washington Japanese Heritage Center - Keisho Center
Phone: 703-868-3241 (during class hours)
Classes Held at:
8821 River Road
Bethesda, MD 20817 Map and Directions
Mailing Address
Keisho Center P.O. Box 142
Cabin John, MD 20818-0142
Contact - • Copyright 2024 - Washington Japanese Heritage Center • All Rights Reserved