OF JAPANESE LANGUAGE SCHOOL
Our Japanese Language School, sponsored by
the Gardena Buddhist Church, opened its doors
in June, 1928.
Two years after the establishment of the Church
in 1926, the Gardena Buddhist Church Japanese
Language school was established. The School
began with two teachers and about 70 students
with Rev. Kosei Ogura as the first principal.
Since then, until the 80s, the minister of
the Church held the double duty of being the
principal of the School as well as the minister.
Originally the student body was restricted
to the offsprings of the Church members, and
the Japanese language instructions included
Buddhist teachings; this policy was changed
after World War II, to accept any student
regardless of their religious beliefs.
Originally a Saturday-only school, both the
Saturday and Daily classes were in existence
by 1941, with approximately 220-230 students
in the former and 40-50 students in the latter.
The Gardena Buddhist Church Japanese Language
School (GBC-JLS) ceased to exist temporarilly
with the outbreak of hostilities in the Pacific.
The chuch and the classrooms served as baggage
storage for the evacuees during World War
II, when all Japanese were evacuated from
the West Coast areas.
The Gardena Buddhist Church re-opened its
doors in September, 1945, as a combination
Church-hostel; then in October, 1948, it regained
its status as church only.
In February, 1949, after seven years and two
months, the Gardena Buddhist Church-Japanese
Language school was reopened; in September,
Rev. Zesei Kawasaki and other members of the
Church held various meetings, and new plans
were formulated in regards to regular class
grades, increasing the qualification requirements
and number of teachers, choosing of new textbooks,
increasing the number of classrooms, starting
the Parent-Teacher Council, etc.
The reorganization was a huge success, with
an increase in enrollment, teachers,etc. With
an ever-increasing enrollment, an Upper Division
was formed (later became the Intermediate
Division) and Tea Ceremony and Flower arrangement
classes were started.
On November 17, 1962, a new 15-room classroom
building (the one located just north of the
Church building) was opened; a second classroom
building was built just north of the fiirst
building, and was dedicated on February 2,
1975, which added eight more classrooms.
The GBC-JLS, which started as a Saturday school,
then became a Daily and Saturday school in
the 1930s followed by a Saturday-only school
in the post-war period, again became both
a Saturday and a Daily School, with the start
of a new Daily Division in September, 1963.
By the late 1960s, the enrollment neared 600
In June, 1970, the Summer School was revived
after a nine-year hiatus.
In the Fall, 1972, the Yochika (later renamed
Yochibu) Division (Preschool) for children
ages 3 and 4 was inaugurated as a part of
the Daily Division; Mrs. Sachi Masuyama became
the first Preschool Director. In addition,
various elective classes were started on Saturday
afternoons from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. The third
change involved the hours of instructions.
The Saturday school hours had been from 9:00
a.m. to 3:00 p.m. ever since the start of
the School in 1928; with this school year,
the hours were changed to 8:30 a.m. to 12:20
In September, 1973, the Daily Intermediate
Division was inaugurated. Until then, even
though the Daily Lower Division was begun
in September, 1963, the students completing
the Lower Division were required to switch
to the Saturday Division in order to attend
the Intermediate Division.
In September, 1974, both the Daily and the
Saturday Kindergarten classes were started,
and in September, 1975, the Saturday Yochika
( now called Yochibu) Division came into being.
Thus, the GBC-JLS is currently divided into
five divisions by grades: Yochibu ( Yochika
in past)= Preschool; Elementary of Lower (Kindergarten,
Nyumon [Intoductory], above); Intermediate
or Middle; Upper or High School; and High
School Advance Study.
The School is further divided into Daily and
The Preshool, first called Yochika, became
Yochibu (to signify that it is a part of the
Japanese Language School) in 1994; it is now
also known as the Nakayoshi Yochien (as of
1996) and includes a Day Care Center (as of
1997). It now accepts children from age two.
The classes with children age two are called
Y-1, children age three are called Y-2. An
elective piano class is held on Monday and
The Kindergarten group encompasses children
aged around five years (the public school
kindergarten age) and is called K-3.
The Lower (Elementary) Division consists of
seven years of instruction. In the Fall of
1974, in order to conform with other Japanese
language schools in Southern Californa, the
seven grades came to be labeled Nyumon (Introductory)
the first year, then grades 1 through 6. The
Intermediate (Middle) Division consists of
7th and 8th grades, while the Upper (High
School) Division encompasses 9th and 10th
grades. There is an additional class called
the "Kenkyu-ka" or "Advance
Studay." They are the 11th and 12th graders,
who are in their 12th & 13th year of Japanese
school counting from the Nyumon class.