Children’s playgroup promotes Japanese language, culture


PLAY TIME! — Members of the Japanese-speaking community gather each Tuesday morning at the JCCCNC for the play group. Activities include kamishibai, a traditional Japanese paper drama. pictured above.

BAMBI, a social activity group for children, holds its Tuesday Children’s Playground from 10 a.m. to noon every week at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California’s gymnasium in San Francisco’s Japantown. The group helps to create social networks for both children and their parents among the Japanese-speaking community in San Francisco.

After an hour of free play they do activities such as kamishibai, a traditional Japanese paper drama, dancing and singing with both Japanese and English songs.

Mariko Grady, who handles the group’s administration duties, said, “I have a 7-year-old daughter, and she found her best friend here and they still meet sometimes.” The group holds seasonal events for New Year’s Day, Girl’s Day, Children’s Day, Star Festival, Summer Festival, Halloween and Christmas. These activities allow the children to experience the Japanese culture and language.

For safety reasons, no more than 50 people can participate in an event at a time. Parents who want to participate in the social activity must sign up on the waiting list.

BAMBI is a social activity group for children ages 1 to 3 years, but also welcomes preschool-aged children. The fee is $5 per month, and participants need to pay biannually. For more information, e-mail

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