Chicago Shimpo
Tampopo-kai Awarded by Grant
from Japan Foundation

• Tampopo-kai, which teaches Japanese Language and culture to children five years old and under, was awarded grant money from the Japan Foundation. An award receiving ceremony was held on October 15 at the Japanese American Service Committee (JASC) where the Tampopo-kai has been held.

• Consul General Naoki Ito, who brought a check for the grant and observed the Tampopo-kai program, said, “It’s great to come here to see that parents and children are enjoying together and learning Japanese songs and language here in Tampopo-kai.” He commended that the program was supported by Japanese Americans, JASC staff, and volunteers. “I think that the beauty of this program is really cross- cultural. The JAs, Japanese, and Americans are getting together, so the program is gaining larger audience and encouraging mutual understanding of Japan-Chicago, Japan-America relations,” Ito said.

• Tampopo-kai was started in 1983 by two JA mothers, who wanted their children to learn Japanese language. Naomi Negi, a teacher, took over it in 1987 and continues to the present day. “I started to teach at Tampopo-kai because I eagerly wanted my children to know about Japan. It was like grasping at straws or taking any port in a storm. This is the 32nd year of my teaching. I think that I love doing it. That’s why I continued,” Negi said.
• At the beginning holding Tampopo-kai was not easy. She was allowed to use a luncheon room for the elderly, so as soon as the space became available, she rushed into the room, spread a sheet on the floor and started the program for two hours. As soon as the time came to get out, she ran across the room to get rid of teaching stuff. Now, the program has moved to a bigger place within the JASC building.
• Negi said, “I really appreciate this grant and would like to use it for further development of programs in Tampopo-kai and Donguri-kai.”

• Michael Takada, CEO of JASC, said, “We are fortunate to have support from the Japan Foundation to help the programs in Tampopo-kai and Donguri-kai, a new program that was developed.” He also thanked support from volunteers, Noriko, Tomoko, and Shoko, for their devotion to continue the programs.


• Donguri-kai teaches advanced Japanese language to the children who finished Tampopo-kai and want to learn more of the language, but have difficulties to attend the Futabakai Hoshu-ko due to distance and other reasons.
• Donguri-kai was started by two Japanese mothers, Kaori Horike and Kaori Ishijima. The two had met each other at Tampopo-kai accompanying their children, who were co-incidentally the same age.
• Horike started teaching at Japanese classes in French International School, then a hoshu-ko in Switzerland. She also taught in the public schools in Japan. “I taught everywhere which had any name of education. So I thought that I wanted to open Donguri-kai after my child finished Tampopo-kai,” Horike said.

• Ishijima is an expert in the nutriology for seniors and strong in the IT field. Horike said that she was weak about IT, so the two could help each other and run Donguri-kai.

Class Schedules

* Tampopo-kai
Monday: 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Wednesday: 12:30 pm – 1:00 pm

* Donguri-kai
Friday: 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Saturday: 9:00 am – 10:30 am
Tel: 773-275-0097 ext. 226

Place: Japanese American Service Committee
4427 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL

A class scene at Tampopokai

From left: Naomi Negi, Michael Takada, Consul General Naoki Ito