Tampopo Kai

About Tampopo Kai

Tampopo Kai is an online Japanese cultural program for preschoolers. Through various engaging activities such as singing, storytelling, and arts & crafts, children and their parents are exposed to the richness of the Japanese language and culture.

Topics that will be covered in Tampopo Kai classes are, but not limited to: Japanese holidays, customs, traditions; Japanese vocabulary words (e.g. colors, numbers, shapes, sizes, family members, greetings, seasons, weather, body parts); Japanese arts (songs, kamishibai-style Japanese storyboards, origami).

The program is organized around three main ideas:

  1. Continue to present an impactful program that is responsive to the developmental needs of infants and toddlers.
  2. Encourage the appreciation of the Japanese language and culture through fun activities.
  3. Create an environment that nurtures positive self-identity by connecting participants to their ethnic heritage.

Who would be a good fit?

  • Children 5 years old and younger
  • Families interested in exposing their children to Japanese language, culture, and/or arts
  • Parents who want their children to develop and maintain a connection to their Japanese heritage
  • Parents who are looking for a tight-knit community of families raising multilingual children in the U.S. 

Frequently asked questions about the Tampopo Kai Program

  • Are all classes held online? Yes, classes meet twice a week on Mon/Wed via Zoom for an hour (10-11 am CT).
  • What is the difference between Mon/Wed classes? Wednesday classes are more interactive because it gives children more opportunities to process the class content (e.g. proactive 1v1 questioning from the instructor, interactive activities). Wednesday classes are ideal for children who are ready to strengthen their class participation skills. 
  • Do parents need to participate in the class, too? Because Tampopo Kai is geared towards children <5 years old, parents are encouraged to attend alongside their children. We ask parents to assist with accessing the Zoom link and managing the on/off of mics. 
  • Do I need to sign up for all sessions? Although classes are offered continuously throughout the year, each lesson is uniquely planned to introduce new concepts; you do not need to attend classes consecutively to follow along. We offer a discounted rate for a 5-session class package, but attendees can also pay per single class.
  • Is Tampopo Kai a Japanese language class? Tampopo Kai exposes children to the Japanese language, but it is not explicitly a language class. Basic Japanese vocabulary words are taught with supplemental explanations in English. Tampopo Kai is more of a cultural program rather than a language program.

Trimming the Japan tree at the Museum of Science and Industry is a time-honored tradition for Tampopo-Kai families. Tampopo has been decorating the Japan tree with joy and pride for the Christmas Around the World exhibit since 1989.

About Naomi Negi, Instructor of Tampopo Kai

Originally from Osaka, Japan, “Naomi Sensei,” as she’s known by the community, has been involved with Tampopo Kai as its instructor since 1987. She first became involved with Tampopo Kai due to her strong desire for her three children, who were all born and raised in the US, to build and maintain a connection to their Japanese heritage. She has dedicated 30+ years of her life to creating engaging lesson plans for multiple generations of multicultural children. Outside of instructing Tampopo Kai, she keeps busy as a cultural artist visiting schools, libraries, and museums running workshops and demonstrations of Japanese cultural arts, and remaining connected with the Tampopo alumni community.

For additional information about Tampopo classes, email Naomi Sensei (Japanese/English)

If you are attending Tampopo for the first time, please make sure to email Naomi Sensei at tampopo@jasc-chicago.org so that the most current weekly Zoom link will be sent to you before class. We don’t want you to miss out on all the fun!

Classes on winter break.

Spring session updates coming in March.

Register online using the form below photo gallery.


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