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Takeshi Takakura


  • M.A. Foreign Language Education — New York University
  • B.A. Comparative Culture — Sophia (Jochi) University, Japan

Professor Takeshi Takakura was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. He holds a BA in Comparative Culture from Sophia (Jochi) University in Japan and a MA in Foreign Language Education, College and Adults, from New York University, both degrees with a concentration in Japanese language. He has extensive teaching experience at various colleges including IVC, San Diego Mesa College, Mt. San Antonio College, and Fullerton College.

Professor Takakura started his teaching career at an urban alternative high school in New Jersey, where he taught Japanese and computers to at-risk students for six years. He faced various challenges on a daily basis; to meet his students' unique individual needs, he worked very hard to make his lessons creative, flexible, and fun. He feels that everyday experiences at the alternative high school greatly helped him become a successful educator.

Professor Takakura strives to create an enjoyable learning environment. His classroom is always filled with a lot of positive energy. He uses a variety of teaching techniques to accommodate students' different learning styles. Professor Takakura believes that the 21st century's trademark skills: creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration can be nurtured by playing games, which his students thoroughly enjoy.

In his spare time, Professor Takakura enjoys hiking and biking, and feeling their amazing benefits. He loves exploring different trails on weekends.

Call 949-451-5792 or Contact Professor Takakura

Ayumi Dohr


  • M.A. Linguistics — California State University, Long Beach
  • B.A. English Lit. and Lang. — Shinwa Women's University, Japan

Professor Ayumi Dohr was born and raised in Japan. After completing her B.A. in English Literature and Language, she moved to California in 1989 to pursue a graduate degree. In 1993 she earned an M.A. in Linguistics at CSU Long Beach.

Teaching has always been her favorite occupation; her teaching experience began when she was in elementary school. Her relatives' children lived in her neighborhood, and they often asked her for help with their homework. She discovered that teaching is joyful, rewarding, and inspiring, so she continued her part-time job as a tutor from high school through universities in Japan and the U.S.

While attending CSU, Long Beach, Professor Dohr started teaching at a Japanese school in Los Angeles, where she still works. In 1996, she started teaching Japanese at the college level; including IVC, San Diego Mesa College, Riverside Community College, among others. She is a Japanese culture "otaku", including pop-culture such as anime and manga. Her students find it out immediately on the first day of class!

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Fumiko Ishii


  • M.A. Asian Studies — California State University, Long Beach
  • B.A. Social Science Studies — International Christian University, Japan

Professor Fumiko Ishii was born and raised in Japan. She became the Japanese instructor when IVC started to offer Japanese courses in 1985. She was the only Japanese instructor from 1985 through the late 1990s, while working full-time at a Japanese automobile company. She drafted all Japanese courses: JA1 ~ J4, JA10, JA21, and JA23. She taught Japanese courses incorporating the communicative approach, and her classes were filled with interactive activities, fun games, and lots of cultural information.

After becoming a full-time professor in 2005, Prof. Ishii developed the Japanese AA degree in 2006, conducted numerous events and created various videos, which aired on Channel 33. She served as advisor to the Japanese Club from 2008 to 2014. When the devastating earthquake and tsunami (called “the Great Tohoku Earthquake”) ravaged northeastern Japan in 2011, Professor Ishii conducted school-wide fundraising events from 2011 through 2013. Furthermore, she established the Nadeshiko Scholarship through the IVC Foundation in 2012. Since then, two to three students have been selected to receive scholarships between $500 to $1,000 each year.

She retired from her full-time position in 2019 and now teaches the Introduction of Japanese Culture course. She continues to work in several Japanese non-profit organizations and serves as Vice President at the Orange County Japanese American Association and Nadeshiko-Kai Japanese Culture and Traditions, Inc.

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Sachi Johnston


  • M.A. TESOL — Southern Illinois University
  • B.A. Foreign Language — Tamagawa University, Japan

Professor Johnston was born and raised in Japan. She also lived in Singapore for a few years when she was young and traveled extensively in Southeast Asia, where she was exposed to and fascinated by multilingual, multicultural, and multiethnic environments.

After receiving an undergraduate degree in foreign languages (concentration in English) at Tamagawa University, Tokyo, Japan, Professor Johnston earned a master's degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at Southern Illinois University. She started her career as a language educator by teaching various English courses at Tamagawa University and Tokai University in Japan. She also worked as an academic advisor for an intensive English program at Southern Illinois University in Niigata, Japan.

Professor Johnston returned to the U.S. and started teaching Japanese at Irvine Valley College in 2005. Since then, she has taught various Japanese courses in higher education in California, including Irvine Valley College, Santa Monica College, CSU Dominguez Hills, and Loyola Marymount University. She has been teaching both online and hybrid beginning level Japanese courses at IVC since 2017. Professor Johnston is passionate, not only teaching languages, but about creating safe and inclusive learning environments for all students, where culturally responsive pedagogy is valued.

In her free time, Professor Johnston enjoys reading books on history and culture, and taking lessons in Japanese calligraphy and flower arranging. She also loves traveling, especially in Southeast Asian countries, enjoying the food, weather, and interaction with people there.

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Emiko Kiyochi


  • M.A. Applied Linguistics — University of Southern California
  • B.A. Education — Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan

Professor Emiko Kiyochi was trained in Japanese linguistics and its teaching methodologies by renowned scholars in the field during the postgraduate intensive training program at the National Language Research Institute in Tokyo. For her master's degree in Applied Linguistics, she studied second language acquisition with Steve Krashen at the University of Southern California.

Professor Kiyochi has designed and led several teacher training programs in Japan and also served in the teacher training program at CSU Fullerton. She has an extensive background in technology; she is trained and has worked as a systems analyst for an enterprise-level web-based system. A lifelong learner, she recently earned a Master's degree in Educational Technology and a Master’s certificate in Serious Game from Michigan State University.

Professor Kiyochi enjoys Japanese popular culture, such as anime, manga and games. In the past, she was a guest of honor at a medium-sized anime convention and also served as a board member of the parent organization of Anime Expo. She has been teaching JA23, Japanese Anime and Manga, since 2010 at IVC.

In her spare time, Professor Kiyochi enjoys classical choral activities and traveling. She also loves to sample food from different parts of Japan and of the world.

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Yuco Saigusa


  • M.A. TESOL — California State University, San Bernardino
  • B.A. Education and Japanese Literature — Aoyama Gakuin University, Japan

Professor Yuco Saigusa grew up in Japan, completed a teaching credential program and received her multiple subject credential from her university in Tokyo. She started her career as an elementary school teacher in 2001, and continued teaching at the elementary school level in Tokyo for the next 10 years until 2012 when she came to the U.S.A. to pursue further education and a career as a Japanese language teacher.

Professor Saigusa incorporates her experiences as a multiple-subject teacher and various aspects of Japanese culture, history, traditions, lifestyles, and politics into her language classes. Her classes are rich in culture, and her students learn not only Japanese language but also about the culture through a range of cultural experiences in her classes.

Outside of the classroom, Professor Saigusa enjoys travelling all over the world. She especially loves backpacking in South American countries, Turkey and Egypt. Through her travels, she has learned the importance of understanding the diversity in our world and appreciating the differences.

Professor Saigusa also has a special interest in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony called "Sado." The whole process is not about simply drinking good tea, but about the aesthetics in preparing a cup of tea from one's heart. The tea ceremony exemplifies Japanese cultural values very well, based on four core principles: harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility, and Professor Saigusa believes that these principles are reflected in her teaching.

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Yoshiko Uchida


  • M.A. Japanese Linguistics — Ohio State University
  • B.A. French Literature — Nanzan University, Japan

Professor Yoshiko Uchida was born in Yokohama, Japan, and educated in Japan and the United States. Before moving to the United States, she received her bachelor's degree in French Literature at Nanzan University, Japan. After taking several graduate courses in English Education and Foreign Language Education at Vanderbilt University, she earned her master's degree in Japanese Linguistics from Ohio State University. She started teaching Japanese as a graduate teaching assistant and has been teaching college-level Japanese since 1989 at institutions such as the OSU, University of Chicago, Middlebury College, Chapman University, and Fullerton College.

Professor Uchida has taught a wide range of classes, including elementary, intermediate, and advanced Japanese, business Japanese for an International MBA Program, Directed Reading for graduate students, and intermediate Japanese using Japanese anime. She joined the IVC Japanese program in 2012, and since then, she has enjoyed teaching all levels of Japanese: JA1, JA2, JA3, JA4, and JA10 in all types of class formats: face-to-face, hybrid, and online.

Professor Uchida enjoys singing with a choir in her spare time, cooking healthy meals, reading, and walking/hiking with friends and family.

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Meet our Tutor

Yoshie Sonoyama  

Ms. Yoshie Sonoyama was born and raised in Japan. She completed her education in Japan and came to the U.S.A. in 1988. Ms. Sonoyama started tutoring IVC students in the Japanese program in 2008 and has been supporting our students since then.


Ms. Sonoyama is very patient and understanding, working with students of all abilities and learning styles. She works one-on-one and provides individualized assistance to help students understand key concepts, review curricular topics, assignments, and homework, and practice talking in Japanese, to name a few.

Both tutoring and volunteering in the classroom is part of her life and she finds it extremely rewarding to get to know students and share her knowledge of Japanese language and culture with students of all ages and backgrounds. Ms. Sonoyama hopes to continue working with IVC students in the Japanese program for many years to come.

Ms. Sonoyama volunteers at various local Japanese communities and organizations such as Japan Bowl, All-USA High School Japanese Speech Contest, and others.

Contact Ms. Sonoyama