MARQUETTE - Japanese phrases like "konnichiwa" (hello) or "domo arigato" (thank you very much) may be familiar to some Americans, but one group is going to learn much more than that thanks to a Japanese conversation class through the Marquette Arts and Culture Center.
A group of 14 students, ranging from teens to retirees, sat down for their first class with Ken Satoh Saturday and got started on their way to learning a new language.
The free workshop will run every Saturday through May, and if there is enough interest, may be split into two classes, with a second meeting on Tuesdays.
In order to bring the language and culture of his native Japan to Marquette, Ken Satoh, or Satoh san, as his students know him, will be hosting a free workshop every Saturday at the Peter White Public Library. The workshop is for anyone who wants to learn conversational Japanese. Here Satoh starts his first class by teaching participants some simple phrases. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
One of the difficulties of learning Japanese is the different alphabet. Students were provided with sheets of Japanese characters to help them begin to piece together the information. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
Satoh, who was born in Japan, introduced himself as "Satoh san" to his students and began teaching them introductions and simple phrases.
"The 'san' is like saying 'mister,'" said Satoh's wife Bobbie Henderson, who was assisting with the first class.
Marquette participates in the Sister Cities program with Japan, and the Arts and Culture Center features several Japanese language and culture classes for both kids and adults.
For their first class, students were asked to bring a pencil, notebook and Japanese/English dictionary. Satoh began teaching by taking the class through a day, teaching them phrases like "good morning" and "good night."
The class also began to learn phrases to use with their peers and how to address others in a more formal manner.
For some members, the class is the first exposure to Japanese language and culture. For others, it's a chance to brush up on past experiences.
Bill Brazier Sr. and his family spent two years living in Hiroshima while he worked for the Ford Motor Company.
Although English was used in the office, Brazier said his family did pick up some of the local language.
"You need to learn some to survive," he said. "It's a difficult language because it's not like anything."
Eventually the group will move on to having conversations and discussions on various topics. If there is enough interest, Satoh will offer the class again in the fall.
Those interested in more information can contact the Arts and Culture Center at 228-0472.