Preparatory education for university entrance examinations is an important rite of passage for many Japanese teenagers. This period of preparation can be a time of profound personal growth, confidence-building, and personal triumph for many of these ambitious youths. Toward that end, Tokyo-based, Mustard Seed Academy (MSA) recently celebrated the debut of its new campus in Shizuoka City last month, introducing to the community a unique approach to preparatory education in Japan. According to author, school dean, and senior English instructor Hajime Nakazawa, “If students deeply experience their worth and value, then they will be empowered to do above and beyond what they think they can do. We strive to provide that kind of uncompromising quality in student care, education and guidance, down to the smallest detail — including the restroom sinks.”
The “sinks”—is he serious, one might ask? The commitment to demonstrate “love, faith and hope” to the students, as stated in the school’s mission statement, is clearly evident in the school’s polished interior design by Ms. Yokoyama of Kukan Kosei Co. Ltd. in Minato-ku, Tokyo. Walking into the school, you cannot help but notice the chandeliers before you, flickering soothing light against the baby-blue colored walls. As you enter across the marbled-floor lobby, you’re greeted by a sienna-colored uketsuke, or front desk which might, at first, lead you to believe you had just walked into a hotel. However, allowing your eyes to follow the white crown molding along the chocolate-colored walls into the two adjacent classrooms for a momentary glance reveals that you’ve indeed entered a very “classy” sort of school.
“We want our students to have a vision of the best things in life. Of what’s possible. That they deserve the very best,” says Mr. Nakazawa, “The atmosphere we create here for learning is not only one of high academic standards but also of high personal and moral standards. Our students deserve all that we can give them. Wouldn’t you want the best for your child?” As this is the fruition of a dream over 10 years in the making, he emphasized that he envisioned a prep school with quality student care likened to a five-star hotel and restaurant, catering to the specific needs of every student like valued guests. “What can I say, we all like to be treated well.”
And yes, down to the sinks. The women’s powder room (and rightly called, as “restroom” would seem quite inadequate) is a sight to behold in a prep school. A chandelier lamp reminiscent of the lobby’s design rests comfortably upon a white half-moon table, decorated sparsely yet elegantly. And yes, the pink flowery-glossed porcelain sink rests below the stylish faucets beyond comparison to those of any school any of us are familiar with. A trip down the hall to the men’s restroom reveals the equally elegant yet tastefully spartan facility appropriate for maturing teens.
Ian Shen, Mustard Seed Academy’s full-time native English-speaking Instructor and Chaplain, explains, “Though it may seem a bit excessive as a cram school to some, I’m very proud that our school reflects of our strong commitment to our students in every way. There’s nothing that compares as far as I know.”
The desire to enter a top university in Japan is the first of many dreams a young man or woman may have. Mustard Seed Academy Shizuoka campus nurtures and educates these students in this five-star, hospitality-based atmosphere, offering its educational philosophy of cultivating hope, faith and love in the next generation of Japanese teenagers, as it has been doing faithfully since 2005 in Tokyo.
Class registration period is currently open for the 2010 school year. Introduction Open School Sessions in Shizuoka are held March 13, 20, 27, or April 1 and 10 from 3PM to 5PM, and in Tokyo on March 10, 14, 17 and 21 from 1:30PM to 3:30PM. For more information, visit http://mustardseedacademy.com or call 03-5261-5217.