Daruma no Gakko is a summer program designed for elementary school-aged children to learn about Nikkei heritage through the program’s unique curriculum. It is a program designed to develop strong, positive self-images and identities through the study of Japanese American history.
Students are engaged through a fun and varied curriculum. The day is packed with activities such as language study, Japanese American history, cooking, papermaking, origami, woodworking, songs and music, and learning the deceptively complex game of go. Students are introduced to traditional arts such as tea ceremony, ikebana (flower arranging), and use of the abacus (soroban).
The specific and primary purpose of Daruma no Gakko is to develop and maintain a summer program with an educational program designed to develop an appreciation of the Japanese American culture.
History of Daruma no Gakko
In the late 1970s, a concerned group of Sansei Mothers conceptualized a program to teach their children about their unique Japanese American heritage. Their concerns stemmed from the realization that their fourth generation Japanese American children were somehow missing out on their cultural heritage as well as the opportunity to develop a strong self-image associated with being Japanese American.
After looking into the Nikkei summer programs in Sacramento and San Jose, they developed a curriculum to be taught by credentialed teachers that was “designed to help build strong, positive self-images and identities through Japanese American: history, literature, language, music, art, food, field trips and community involvement.”
Through the leadership and administration provided by Etsuko Steimetz and the generous donation by the Berkeley JACL, Daruma no Gakko opened at Berkeley Buddhist Temple in June 1979 with 89 students. Thus, in 1978 Daruma no Gakko was born, out of the love and dedication of ten very special Japanese American mothers.
Over forty years later, Daruma no Gakko continues to enrich the lives of our children with the same principles in which the school was founded. Daruma no Gakko is a non-profit co-op run program which relies on the volunteerism and support of the families involved. Children in grades kindergarten through sixth learn about themselves through their heritage under the program’s unique Japanese American curriculum.