O-en (Oh en) is originally from the English word “Open”. We would like to help open the door to the Japanese world, to have more enriched experience, to meet new people, and to expand your potential future.

Our services are open to anyone.

Then why did it become “O-en” instead of “Open”?

When the original founder of O-en Network, Akane, was thinking a name for this organization, she saw a traffic sign on the highway showing “OPEN” but the letter “P” was not shown because the lights were broken! So the sign actually said “O-EN”. There is also a Japanese word “oh en” (応援) which means “to support”. Akane thought “O-en” sounds perfect for what this organization is going to do.

O-en Network’s very first event was in 2002, when Akane did two weeks of summer playdate session. Till the year before, Akane was working at Washington Japanese Language school (Hoshuukou) and teaching a Kindergarten class.

She noticed many children lose their Japanese skills as they spend more months and years in the US. She thought how she could support those children maintaining their mother language while also having some basic cultural experiences that children in Japan can gain naturally. That is why she started the summer camp in Japanese immersion environment.

People asked her to do this summer camp again.

In 2005, Akane officially established O-en Network for annual Japanese summer camp program.

Akane Shirata (しらた あかね)
The Catholic University of American (Washington DC) – B.A. in Early Childhood Education
George Mason University (Fairfax, VA) – M. Ed. in Early Childhood Special Education

Washington Japanese Heritage Center – Curriculum Coordinator