Instructors

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

Meet Our Instructors

Ms. Mieko Aono

Mieko Aono worked as a product manager for past 25 years at various software and hardware companies in Silicon Valley specializing in localization for international markets. Prior to that, she taught Japanese language at Cabrillo College for seven years. She holds an MA in Teaching Japanese as a Foreign Language at San Francisco State University, and a BA in Japanese Literature and Languages at Atomi University in Tokyo, Japan.

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.

Ms. Kazuko Iida

Iida-sensei has taught Japanese language courses at colleges and universities in the U.S., including Foothill College in Los Altos for 7 years. She attained a Master’s Degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at Eastern Michigan University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Pharmaceutical Science at Hokuriku University in Japan. She also earned a certificate in Japanese Pedagogy at Columbia University in New York.

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. 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. 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.

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. Tomoko Nishida

Tomoko Nishida holds B.A. in International Relations from Osaka Gakuin University and M.S. in Counseling Option in Marriage and Family Therapy from California State University, Fresno. She has experience in teaching Japanese to both adults and children of all ages and has working knowledge of teaching language to students with Specific Learning Disorder like Dyslexia, Dyscalculia and other Neurodevelopmental Disorder like Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD in Japan and the United States. She also have experience in teaching Japanese to non-native speakers in Japan. Other key activities she enjoys are Zumba, Yoga, Tennis and Japanese Animation.

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. 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. Kumiko Wang

Wang sensei received her B.A. in German Literature from Otani University in Kyoto, Japan. Since 2014, she has been teaching Japanese in San Jose CA. Before coming to the U.S., she taught Japanese and ballroom dancing in Taiwan. She is a native speaker of Japanese and fluent in Mandarin. She enjoys teaching and sharing her international experience with students from different culture backgrounds.

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. Kazuko Yasutake

Yasutake-sensei received her Master of Arts in Teaching Japanese as a Foreign Language from San Francisco State University. She completed her undergraduate study in computer science at San Jose State University and received a BA in Japanese literature in Japan. She holds a Japanese teaching credential for both junior high and high school level students. She has 13 years of experience in corporate translation and technical writing as a software engineer.

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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