New York’s Japanese Weekend School

By Phineas Upham

We live in the age of the Web, which means ostensibly that we can acquire knowledge from basically any part of the globe. We can apply that knowledge nearly anywhere as well, and this is only just becoming reality. It was a new phenomenon during the 1970s and 80s, when the Internet first began and these possibilities came to light.

In 1962, well before all that, Japanese businessmen working in America decided to found a weekend school with the goal of preparing students to return to their home country. They understood the value of this worldwide system of education, but they wanted the students to identify with their Japanese heritage.

The school only admitted students whose parents belonged to the Nippon Club, but enrollment grew substantially once non-member students were allowed in. The focus of the school’s curriculum is the Japanese language, but the campus also has natural science and mathematics courses. Approximately 30% of the school’s funding comes from the Japanese government itself, which relies on New York’s Japanese community to keep the school running day to day.

Nearly 20% of the students who attend are of American descent or came to America at a young age. An overwhelming majority will return home to Japan before, during or after their senior year of high school. Weekend school is a method of preparing them for some of the culture shock they may face having been a Japanese-American person for most of their lives.

Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or LinkedIn page.