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Clearinghouse Invites Educators to Explore Resources for Teaching about Japan

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The National Clearinghouse for U.S.-Japan Studies specializes in providing educational information about Japan to K–12 students, teachers, specialists, and curriculum developers. Indeed, service, coupled with a sincere dedication to helping individuals find reliable information about Japan, underlies all Clearinghouse activities. Its publications are complimentary and its Web site provides access to the U.S.-Japan Database of educational materials and the Lesson Plan Database. Established in 1989 through a grant from the United States-Japan Foundation, it has been funded by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership since 1993, and is a joint project of the Social Studies Development Center and the East Asian Studies Center at Indiana University, Bloomington.

The Clearinghouse publications program is designed to help teachers by providing educational information about Japan in a format convenient for classroom use. Perhaps the most useful publications for teachers are Japan Digests, two-page summaries covering a range of topics related to Japan and U.S.-Japan relations. Published three times a year, all Japan Digests focus on teaching and explore a variety of ways in which to incorporate a particular topic into the classroom. Past titles include “Examining Japan’s History Textbook Controversies,” “Teaching about Japanese-American Internment,” “Japanese Education,” and “Understanding Okinawa’s Role in the U.S.-Japan Security Arrangement.” Teacher feedback confirms that many of the Digests are often integrated into classroom instruction on Japan. For example, a Massachusetts teacher praises the rich cultural data in “Daily Life in Japanese High Schools,” explaining that students can easily read the material and initiate cross-cultural comparisons. Similarly, a Nebraska teacher extols the multifaceted exploration found in “Rice: It’s More Than Food in Japan.” Her students follow their exploration of rice in Japan with a comparison to the role of corn on the Great Plains, especially during the early settlement period. Additionally, “Teaching Primary Children about Japan through Art” has inspired both elementary and secondary teachers to engage students in art-based Japanese cultural studies. Teachers have also taken advantage of this Digest author’s offer of free calligraphy for the classroom!