Fuji School

Learning Japanese, Building Cultural Bridges

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Robert Fields

Robert Fields


Loyola Marymount University

Loyola Marymount University


Jeff Thies

Jeff Thies

Global Goals

4. Quality Education 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 10. Reduced Inequalities 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 17. Partnerships for the Goals

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Fuji School provides innovative Japanese language education in Los Angeles, integrating cultural activities such as traditional Japanese calligraphy with flexible, student-centered teaching methods tailored for both private lessons and group sessions. This approach promotes SDG 4: Quality Education by ensuring accessible and tailored learning experiences for a diverse student community. By fostering cultural understanding between Americans and Japanese and reducing educational inequalities through affordable, high-quality education, Fuji School supports SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities. The school’s partnerships with local Japanese non-profit organizations enhance its impact, aligning with SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals. Additionally, by equipping students with valuable Japanese language skills, Fuji School helps them pursue lucrative career opportunities in international business and/or relations, aligning with SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.


Fuji School, founded by Ayumi Furiya in Los Angeles, offers an innovative approach to Japanese language education that transcends traditional methods. By integrating cultural activities and flexible, individually tailored, student-centered teaching techniques, Fuji School provides a comprehensive learning experience. The school customizes its curriculum to meet the unique needs of each student, ensuring learners of all ages and backgrounds can achieve fluency in Japanese. Ayumi emphasizes, "I always tell the teachers that I hire, 'You have to listen to exactly what students need,'" ensuring each student has an equitable opportunity to learn Japanese in the way that suits them best. This approach aligns with SDG 4: Quality Education by making high-quality education accessible and tailored to diverse learning styles.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fuji School swiftly transitioned to online classes, expanding its reach and maintaining educational continuity. This adaptability ensured uninterrupted learning and allowed the school to hire teachers remotely from Japan, broadening its educational impact and opening new career opportunities for Japanese teachers. Fuji School's affordable tuition rates ($70 for an hour-long private lesson and $410 for a ten-week group class) and inclusive environment reduce educational inequalities, supporting SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities.

Moreover, the school's collaborations with local cultural organizations, such as the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center and the Nisei Week Foundation, along with local religious communities like the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple, enhance community engagement and promote cultural exchange, aligning with SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals. Through its innovative methods and community-focused initiatives, Fuji School fosters deeper cultural understanding and makes a significant contribution to a better world.

Learning Japanese, Building Cultural Bridges


Fuji School's founder and principal teacher, Ayumi Furiya, was inspired to create the school after experiencing the challenges of learning a new language firsthand when she came to America. "I used to be a student in America to learn English. My English was not that great at that time, but I met several people at a party called 'Party Only in Japanese,' where American nationals came to practice speaking Japanese together," she recalls. Witnessing Americans’ enthusiasm for learning Japanese, despite the global dominance of English, struck a chord with her.

This realization inspired Ayumi to return to Japan to earn a teaching license, after which she came back to America to start teaching. However, when she returned, she was unable to find any schools or universities willing to hire her. Because of this, along with the fact that there were no private language schools dedicated to teaching Japanese, she took the initiative to address this gap in the market and establish her own Japanese language school. Ayumi's mission goes beyond language instruction. "I want to help American people obtain a greater understanding of and appreciation for Japanese culture by teaching Japanese language to them," she explains. Her goal is to inspire students to interact with Japanese people, support Japanese businesses both locally and abroad, and travel to Japan to practice their language skills and bond with Japanese people.

Ayumi's dedication to fostering cultural and economic ties between Japan and America is evident in the success of her students, many of whom have traveled to Japan and engaged in full conversations in Japanese. This passion for promoting cultural understanding and bridging the gap between the two nations drives Fuji School’s innovative approach to language education. Her commitment is clear when she says, "I plan on teaching Japanese language until the day that I die. I will live and die as a Japanese teacher."

Overall impact

Fuji School’s innovative approach to Japanese language education has made a significant impact on its students and the broader community. In the short term, students benefit from personalized and flexible teaching methods that cater to individual learning styles and proficiency levels. The integration of cultural activities enhances their understanding and appreciation of Japanese culture, making the learning process more engaging and effective. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the swift transition to online classes ensured continuity in education, demonstrating the school's adaptability and commitment to its students. Additionally, the dedicated and diverse community of students that Fuji School had trained and mentored prior to the pandemic banded together (myself included) and increased the number of classes they took. This not only supported Fuji School during the pandemic but also exponentially improved their language skills, highlighting the supportive community that Fuji School has cultivated.

In the long term, Fuji School’s impact extends beyond language proficiency. Many students have passed the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) thanks to Fuji School's innovative teaching methods, and have even traveled to Japan, utilizing their language skills in real-world contexts to foster deeper cultural connections and mutual understanding between the United States and Japan. The school has also contributed to reducing educational inequalities by making quality language education accessible to a diverse student population. With over 2,500 registered students in the past decade, many of whom continue to take classes, the evidence of Fuji School’s sustained impact is clear.

Furthermore, the school’s partnerships with local cultural organizations have strengthened community ties and promoted cultural exchange, aligning with the UN’s SDGs. This collaborative approach not only enhances the educational experience for students but also supports the preservation and appreciation of Japanese culture within the Los Angeles community. Fuji School’s innovation in language education continues to inspire and create positive, long-lasting effects on both individual lives and the broader cultural landscape.

Business benefit

The innovative approach of Fuji School has significantly benefited the business in multiple ways. By offering flexible, personalized education and integrating cultural activities, Fuji School has attracted a diverse student population, increasing enrollment and retention rates. The school's quick adaptation to online teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic not only sustained its existing student base but also opened new markets, allowing students from different states and countries to enroll in their programs. This expansion has led to a steady increase in revenue and growth.

Additionally, the school's innovation has enabled the hiring of a more diverse and skilled team. Fuji School now employs teachers both locally and remotely, including those based in Japan. This has enriched the learning experience for students and provided job opportunities for educators who might not have had access to such roles otherwise. Ayumi currently employs five teachers who work at Fuji School's office in Little Tokyo, another five who work remotely in different states in the US, and ten who work remotely in Japan. The flexible work environment and commitment to employee well-being have contributed to higher job satisfaction and retention among staff.

Moreover, Fuji School’s reputation for high-quality and culturally rich education has attracted partnerships and collaborations with local cultural organizations, enhancing its visibility and credibility. Their work with the JACCC and the Nisei Week Foundation in Little Tokyo helps maintain the town's cultural identity and attracts more students eager to learn Japanese. They also regularly collaborate with the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA) to host educational panels at the world-famous Anime Expo in Los Angeles. These collaborations have not only strengthened community ties but also created opportunities for new programs and services, further driving the school’s growth and success. Because of these innovative practices, Fuji School continues to thrive and expand, benefiting both the business and its broader community.

Social and environmental benefit

Fuji School’s innovative approach to Japanese language education significantly benefits society by promoting cultural understanding and reducing educational inequalities. By making high-quality language education accessible to a diverse range of students, Fuji School fosters mutual respect and appreciation between different cultures. This cultural exchange helps break down barriers, creating a more inclusive and cohesive community in Los Angeles and beyond.

The school's integration of cultural activities into the curriculum not only enhances language learning but also deepens students' understanding of Japanese traditions and values. Lessons in traditional Japanese calligraphy with master calligrapher Kuniharu Yoshida, along with field trips to locations such as the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple for traditional tea ceremonies, provide unique and unforgettable experiences for all students while promoting further education and understanding of Japanese culture. This cultural awareness can lead to greater empathy and global citizenship, as students carry these insights into their personal and professional lives. Additionally, Fuji School’s community involvement through partnerships with local organizations and participation in cultural events strengthens social bonds and promotes a vibrant cultural scene.

Environmentally, the integration of online classes during and after the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced the need for physical commuting, thereby lowering the school's carbon footprint. By continuing to offer both in-person and online classes, Fuji School provides flexible learning options that contribute to more sustainable practices in education. This hybrid model allows students from various locations to access quality education without the environmental impact associated with travel, supporting a more sustainable future. However, those who commute to Fuji School benefit from a fun and inclusive environment where students and teachers come together to support and inspire each other. Ayumi recounts, "I had several students who have come to me and told me that while they didn’t enjoy school when they were young, they found that they love Fuji School." As society continues to struggle with ensuring safe learning environments, Fuji School has succeeded in creating a safe and inclusive space for all students, regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, or culture.


Ayumi Furiya, CEO and Principal

Business information

Fuji School

Fuji School

Los Angeles, CA, US
Business Website: https://www.oh-fuji.com/
Year Founded: 2011
Number of Employees: 11 to 50

Fuji School is a Japanese language school based in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, dedicated to promoting Japanese language and culture through comprehensive and immersive education. The school offers courses for students of all ages, backgrounds, and proficiency levels, integrating innovative teaching methods through a flexible curriculum and engaging cultural activities. By providing accessible and inclusive education to a diverse range of students, Fuji School fosters cultural understanding and bridges the gap between local and international communities. As a student of Fuji School for over nine years, I strongly endorse their commitment to innovative teaching and the inclusive community they have built in Los Angeles and beyond.