NPO Tokyo Community School

Tokyo Community School



1-62-10 Nakano, Tokyo 164-0001

Tokyo Community School


TCS Core Value


自和自和 – read “jiwa jiwa”* – describes our core value of children being true to themselves, celebrating connection and harmony with others and the environment, and learning and growing together.

The character “自” (“ji”, or“self”) symbolizes valuing oneself (自愛), learning through one’s own volition (自発), self-control (自律), believing in one’s potential and ability (自信), and nurturing a free mind (自由).

The character “和” (“wa”, or“harmony”) symbolizes valuing harmony between oneself and others (親和), valuing harmony within the given social or natural environment (調和), recognizing the value of learning in a harmonious environment (温和), and striving for harmony and understanding between people of different cultures and backgrounds (平和).

As these characters are laid repeatedly, side by side (“jiwa jiwa”), we see in that repetition precisely the ideal process that children go through in their learning: to take steps, no matter how small, toward growth in a harmonious, supportive environment.

* “Jiwa jiwa”, the sound alone, is also the onomatopoeia for something that spreads or permeates slowly, but steadily and deeply. The two kanji characters have been combined to make this particular sound.

< How “JIWA JIWA” came to be >

In March of 2004 I was fortunate enough to visit our now-sister school, Fitzroy Community School and stay there for ten days. By day I would visit their classrooms and observe various subjects, and by night I would spend time speaking to Philip O’Carroll, a founder of the school, discussing schools and education. Although at the time I had no plans of starting my own school, as Philip kept insisting that “philosophy makes a school”, I was somewhat forced to think about education and what I thought would make an ideal school. And, when a month later, an opportunity arose for me to establish a school, I already had an image of what kind of education I wanted to deliver, but I had not expressed it explicitly; I still remember how difficult it was to describe that image and put my ideas into words.

My intention was to find a suitable expression in Japanese that described my philosophy, but out of the many 2-character and 4-character expressions and idioms I could not find one that really resonated. I did notice, however, that many of the keywords that arose contained in them the characters “ji” and “wa” – and this allowed me to create my own Japanese expression which happened to also incorporate the important feature of the Japanese language, the onomatopoeia.

This expression that embodies our philosophy that children must be allowed to be true to themselves, celebrate connection and harmony with others and the environment, and learn and grow together, lies at the heart of the education at Tokyo Community School. It is our hope that it will continue to guide the children in their learning and growth.

The three promises that make our philosophy a reality

  • Value oneself
  • Value others
  • Value things

To make our philosophy a reality, and to ensure a safe learning environment for all, our community abides by these three promises – a constitution of sorts.