Our language instructors are seasoned teachers, having taught both in the U.S. and Japan.

Meet Our Instructors

Ms. Ryoko Carter

Ryoko-sensei received her BA in History from Hosei University. She has over ten years of experience in teaching English at high schools in Japan, including at an alternative school for teens with learning differences. After moving to California, she became involved in translation work, a prayer flag project, and teaching Japanese at a private school. Her passion is fostering a love for the language and empowering students to communicate effectively. She is an avid tea drinker who also loves classical Japanese films, literature, and pop culture.

Ms. Mika Fairchild

Mika Fairchild has been teaching Japanese language and culture to adult students in the East Bay for the past six years. During the last five summers, she taught sushi-making and origami to school children at a local summer camp program in Oakland. She holds a B.A. in Japanese Literature from Kwassui Women’s University and a Japanese teaching credential for both middle and high school.

Ms. Misato Takito Fitzmaurice

Takito-sensei holds her B.A. in Japanese Literature from Kinjyo Gakuin University, Japan. She earned her Certificate for Teaching Japanese as Foreign Language from the Human Academy in Nagoya.  Since 2003, she has been teaching group & private lessons to students of all different levels and nationalities in Japan and USA ( preparing to enter Japanese universities, and employees on assignment for their companies including Toyota, Denso, Finnier, Bank do Brazil etc.).

Ms. Mari Hisamura

Hisamura sensei enjoys living in Bay Area where she can meet people from different cultures. Before moving to San Jose, she lived in Taipei with her family. She grew up in Tokyo and received her B.A. in English and American Literature from Rikkyo University. She also holds a teaching credential for both middle and high school, and teaches beginning Japanese to teenagers. Yoga, traveling, and taking a walk along the beach with her dog are her favorite things to do in her free time.

Mr. Toshiyuki (Toshi) Hisamura

Toshi Hisamura has more than 30 years experience in semiconductor industry serving business, engineering and management positions. He started his career with large Japanese company in Tokyo and later transferred to its subsidiary in Santa Clara, California. He also worked in Taiwan for 3 years to establish a new subsidiary prior to moving back to Bay Area to work for American semiconductor company 20 years ago. Teaching Japanese language as well as its culture has been his passion throughout his career. He holds B.A. in Education (inter-cultural communication) from Waseda University in Japan. He enjoys running, hiking, travel and martial arts (3rd degree black belt in Shorinji Kempo).

Ms. Fumino Hora

Hora-sensei was born and raised in Tokyo, and lived in Hong Kong, Pittsburgh PA, Orange County CA, and Washington DC before settling in the Bay Area. She has a PhD in Fine Arts from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, and holds a Japanese Language Teaching Certificate from Arc Academy in Tokyo. She has spent the past 6 years pursuing her passion for teaching Japanese to individuals, groups, and companies, both in person and online. Prior to teaching Japanese, she taught English and Art group classes for adults and children. She absolutely loves meeting and talking to people, and enjoys hiking, gardening, and exploring the exciting food scene in the Bay Area.

Ms. Yoko Iizuka

Iizuka-sensei holds an MA degree in Educational Linguistics from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. She has been teaching Japanese to children and adults in the Bay Area for more than 20 years. Her experience in teaching adults includes UC Berkeley Extension, major Silicon Valley high tech companies and Mountain View-Los Altos Adult Education. She loves to read and listen to classical music in her free time.

Ms. Natsuko Ikunaga

Ikunaga-sensei received her B.A. in Classical Piano from Soai University in Osaka. She also holds a teaching credential in Japanese from the International Exchange Center of Osaka. She has taught Japanese and music to diverse groups of students in Kyoto and the Bay Area for many years. She holds a particular interest in Japanese popular culture and cinema. She also performs classical piano in the musical group Sala di Musica.

Ms. Yukiko Ino

Ino-sensei received her B.A. in English Literature at Kyoritsu Woman’s University in Tokyo. She obtained her Certificate for Teaching Japanese as a Foreign Language from Kanda Institute of Foreign Language in Tokyo. She experimented and practiced teaching methodologies for two years under Professor Michiko Hiramatsu in Foothill College. She has been a Japan Society instructor since 1999.

Ms. Chieko Kitagawa

Chieko Kitagawa received her M.A. in Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language from San Francisco State University. She also attended the Teaching Japanese as a Foreign Language program at San Francisco State University. While in graduate school she started teaching Japanese as a teaching assistant and joined the Japan Society as a Japanese instructor in 1991. Besides teaching, she is a Japanese interpreter for the governmental and private sectors as well as a tax accountant who is authorized to practice before the IRS. She also enjoys doing Japanese voice over work for various industries from time to time.

Ms. Yachiyo Komori

Komori sensei holds BA in Business and Humanities from Golden Gate University.  She attained a Certificate to teach Japanese as a second language from Hoso University in Chiba, Japan. She taught Japanese at Nissait Language School, Tokyo, Japan.  She has been teaching Japanese at Japanese language schools in the Bay area since 2000.  She joined in the Japan Society as an instructor in 2011

Ms. Yumi Kosaka

Yumi Kosaka was born in Tokyo, Japan. She received her M.A. in Linguistics from West Virginia University. She has taught English at several colleges in Japan. Since moving to the Bay Area in 2013, she has been teaching Japanese at Diablo Valley College. In her free time, she loves playing with her dog, listening to music, watching movies, and playing the piano.

Ms. Nobue Maeda

Maeda-sensei holds her BA in English literature from Fuji Women’s University in Sapporo. She attained the certificate of Japanese Teacher Training from English Circles in Sapporo. Prior to moving to San Francisco in 2006, she taught Japanese for almost ten years at Vancouver Community College and Richmond School District in Vancouver, Canada.

Ms. Chiyo Matsui

Matsui-sensei received her BA in International Relations from Brigham Young University and her MA in Teaching Japanese as a Foreign Language from San Francisco State University.  She has experience teaching all age groups as an instructor at language schools and universities, and also as a private tutor.  She also enjoys Kendo and Yoga.

Ms. Ayumi Matsumura

Ayumi Matsumura has been teaching Japanese at various levels for over 16 years in Bay Area universities, graduate schools, and government language schools. She came to the U.S. in 2004 and earned a MA in Communication from San Jose State University. Previously, she taught English at public junior high schools in Japan after receiving her teaching credentials and a BA in English Language and Literature. She has a passion for and believes that her life work is teaching languages. When she has free time, she enjoys sewing, visiting hot springs, etc.

Dr. Masahiko Minami

Masahiko Minami is Professor at San Francisco State University where he specializes in Japanese language and cross-cultural studies. He is also President of the Foreign Language Association of Northern California (FLANC) and coordinator for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (Nihongo Nōryoku Shiken: JLPT) for Northern California. In addition, he was President of the Northern California Japanese Teachers’ Association (NCJTA). Dr. Minami, who received a PhD from Harvard University, is also a guest Professor at the National Institute for Japanese Language & Linguistics, Tokyo, Japan. Dr. Minami was the 2007 recipient of the Phi Beta Kappa Excellence in Teaching Award for Northern California.

Ms. Chikako Naito

Chikako Naito is an experienced language educator with over 15 years of teaching experience. For the past 10 years, she has been teaching Japanese in the Bay Area to a wide variety of learners, ranging from middle school students to established professionals. Ms. Naito earned a secondary level teaching credential in Japan and is on track to earn a master’s degree in Japanese Pedagogy from Columbia University in May 2019.

Ms. Yuko Onuma

Onuma-sensei passed the Japanese Language Teaching Competency Test in 2008 and has experience teaching Japanese to a wide range of age groups (from young children to adults) in the Bay Area. Being raised in Osaka, she has an easy going personality and likes to incorporate various activities in her classes to encourage student participation and make learning Japanese a more enjoyable experience. She also has training in Japanese calligraphy.

Mr. Katsuhiro Otsuka

Otsuka-sensei came to the Japan Society in 2001 with 15 years of experience teaching Japanese in both the United States and Japan. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Rakuno University and certificates in ESL, Travel & Tourism, and Landscape Design from North American universities. He is also involved in chanoyu.

Ms. Kumiko Sakamoto

Kumiko Sakamoto has been teaching Japanese for 24 years and will continue teaching diverse backgrounds. She earned her master’s degree in Japanese Pedagogy from SFSU and admires two teaching philosophies: Natural Approach by Dr. Stephen Krashen and Depth and Complexity by Dr. Sandra Kaplan. Her teaching mission acknowledges equity in mind awareness and supports Diversity and Inclusivity. Kumiko is one of the creators of an online reading book, “日本語で読書“, which is supported by the Japan Foundation. Her philosophy is based on human equality and the values of lifelong education. Kumiko’s hobbies are writing movie reviews and community service.

Ms. Masako Shimizu

Shimizu sensei grew up in Japan and graduated from Keio University in Tokyo with a B.A. in Japanese Literature. She received an M.S. in Journalism from Boston University. She worked for the Yomiuri Shimbun and TV Asahi, reporting from Japan, Asia, and the US. Prior to teaching for the Japan Society, she taught Japanese at UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco, where she received an Award for Distinguished Service to Disability Issues.
She has focused her studies and career on improving communications between cultures. She has been an active member of the Japan Society since 2001.

Ms. Kazuko Smith

Kazuko Smith is a Japanese-English bilingual and biliterate professional who performs well in multinational environment. Currently, she works as a translator for the information technology field. Her prior experience includes working as a translator for the entertainment industry and as a research associate for an educational non-profit organization. She has been teaching ESL in a classroom setting and one-on-one basis since 2014 and has taught Japanese to a classroom of third graders for two years. She received her BA in English and American Literature at Kobe Shoin University and MA in Film at San Francisco State University. She enjoys meeting new people and learning different cultures. Loves languages, cinema, history, and arts.

Ms. Fumiko Takagi

Takagi sensei came to the US to study interior design in Florida after graduating from college in Osaka. She has been teaching Japanese to adult students in East Bay for 7 years. She is passionate about beauty of Japanese culture and art. She also enjoys karate, yoga, Zumba dance and outdoor activities with her friends and family. She has been a Bay Area resident since 1996.

Ms. Taeko Tateno

Whether she’s teaching adults or children, Taeko-sensei believes in creating a friendly, relaxed atmosphere for students to learn in. Taeko-sensei grew up in Tokyo, where she worked for a variety of foreign companies and also taught business Japanese. Since moving to San Francisco, she has enjoyed teaching Japanese in different schools, homes, and also online. In teaching Japanese, she relies on a strong understanding of cultural and societal needs to assist students in learning Japanese culture. Taeko-sensei enjoys J-pop music, singing, and American rock and roll. In May of this year, she completed a healthcare interpreter’s program at CCS.

Ms. Chiaki Vanasupa

Vanasupa-sensei has been teaching Japanese for over 7 years and holds a California Teaching Credential. After living in different countries and working as an interpreter and translation for many years, she realized that teaching Japanese language and culture is what she would like to pursue as a life time career. Her focus is on business Japanese conversation and cultural differences in business while utilizing her work experiences in Japan. She received her BA (Hons) in Sociology, MA in International Studies with Research Training from University of Reading, UK, and MA in Translation and Localization Management from Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

Ms. Madoka Wallace

Madoka-sensei has been teaching Japanese and Kokugo to a wide range of students for over 17 years, including those who plan on taking the JLPT and those with giftedness, learning differences, ADHD, or ADD. She received her MPH from UCLA and her MS and pharmacy degrees from Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences, and has worked as a medical translator and consultant. Madoka-sensei is passionate about introducing others to Japanese food and culture, and has run workshops at schools across the Bay Area for over 5 years. She loves Japanese tea, and is currently studying for her Japanese tea instructor certification.

Ms. Kumiko Yamada

Yamada-sensei received her BA in French Literature at Keio University in Tokyo. She earned the certificate of Japanese Language Teaching Competency Certificate in 1990 and started teaching. She received an MBA from Oregon State University, where she also had the opportunity to work as a teacher’s assistant for Japanese language classes. She has been a Japan Society instructor since Fall 2007.

Ms. Mami Yamagishi

Yamagishi-sensei has been teaching Japanese language and culture to young students (1st grade-12th grade) for 17 years in the San Francisco bay area. She has also experienced teaching in Adult classes for a few years in the past. She loves to spend time cooking and art: Origami in personal time and in the classroom.

Ms. Yumiko Yokoyama

Yokoyama-sensei received her BA in Liberal Arts from Tsuda College in Japan. She holds a teaching credential for both junior high and high school. She started her teaching career in Japan and has taught from kindergarten to high school, as well as adult education in the US. Currently she works as an HR Manager for a Japanese Technology Company, and is aware of cultural differences in between the US and Japanese business worlds. She hopes that teaching Japanese and introducing Japanese culture will bridge these gaps and promote mutual understanding.

Ms. Midori Yonezawa

Yonezawa-sensei received  a PhD in linguistics from Michigan State University and has been teaching Japanese at various places including refugee camps in Japan, Kansai Gaidai, a language school in Taiwan, Gettysburg College, and University of Pennsylvania. She moved to California in 2015. Her hometown is Kyoto, and now she enjoys living in California.

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