Children explore Japanese culture in San Jose exhibit

KONNICHIWA ­— The bento exhibit at the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose’s “Hello From Japan!” exhibit photos by Derek Tahara/Nichi Bei News

SAN JOSE — In the back of the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, kids and their parents learn and explore Japanese culture and its offerings through the “Hello From Japan!” exhibit. The exhibit has several Japanese-themed sections, including karaoke, o-bento and a nature and tranquil section. The exhibit is on view until June 9 and will travel to other children’s museums around the country.

Children can explore and interact in every section of the exhibit. For example, the exhibit contained a wishing tree, where kids can write wishes on strips of paper and attach it to the tree. Additionally, when children and their parents walk into the exhibit, they will see a wall full of fun facts about Japan.

Trada Roy, who brought her children to the museum on a recent Thursday in February, said she wanted to “show (her) kids how beautiful the culture of Japan (is).”

The exhibit brought back “good memories” since she studied in Osaka, Japan.
According to Rich Turner, the director of exhibits and facilities, the best part about the exhibit is “the exposure that kids have to cultures that they might not get otherwise. They get to actually see and do and play with, and see kids their own age, in different roles, in different cultures.

“I also think that it’s very important for kids to learn by doing and that they need to get their hands on things and play with things and that discovery learning is very important for kids to do,” Turner said.

“It’s about Japanese culture in both a sort of a history perspective and a pop culture perspective.”

The Children’s Museum of Manhattan originally created this traveling exhibit as part of a cultural outreach program, as part of the Freeman Foundation Asian Culture Exhibit Series in collaboration with the Association of Children’s Museums. Turner added that the museum received a grant from the Freeman Foundation to put together an Asian cultural exhibit. According to a press release from the Children’s Museum of Manhattan Website, the exhibit opened in January 2015.

According to Tom Quaranta, who was on the exhibit development team, the museum “worked with cultural and scholarly experts to develop each area of the exhibit.”

The San Jose museum purchased and hosted the exhibit in January 2019 after the Children’s Museum of Manhattan decommissioned it, he added.

The “Hello From Japan!” exhibit is on view at the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose at 180 Woz Way in San Jose, Calif. The museum is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Info: (408) 298-5437 or

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