Event Feature: Helping the Little Hands at Aozora Gakuen Learn the Culinary Art of Japanese Rice


kids watching a presentationEducating kids on rice

One of the many advantages of partnering with local food businesses is the opportunity to take part in exciting hands-on events. Most recently, Aozora Gakuen, a local preschool that uses the rice factory NEW YORK’s rice for their school lunches, invited us to participate in one of their educational programs during their Mid-Winter Break Camp. This year, the Brooklyn-based preschool’s educational focus was on teaching their toddlers how to cook delicious Japanese food. To contribute, we sent some of our trusty rice sommeliers to show the kids at Aozora the incredible journey Japanese rice takes before ever making it to their plates.


Teaching younger generations the art of good food is a community effort.

Aozora Gakuen is not your average preschool—they understand the importance of teaching kids valuable knowledge and skills, such as traditional cultural cooking methods, from a young age. To provide their children with a really valuable and immersive experience, Aozora Gakuen invited chefs from local restaurants and some of their trusty food suppliers to give their students hands-on demonstrations. 


From rice paddy to onigiri: showcasing the entire life cycle of Japanese rice

kids watching a presentation

Our staff was delighted to provide the eager crowd of children with a Japanese immersion-style lesson in the art of Japanese rice. We walked the kids through the entire journey of the rice grain, from rice paddy cultivation to the special harvesting techniques and how it makes its way to their plates in Brooklyn, New York. They then got hands-on experience making onigiri (rice balls) and norimaki sushi (sushi rolls with cucumber), which they quickly devoured afterward. We made sure to donate enough rice for everyone to enjoy and experience the magic of this Japanese rice. 


Building connections within the Japanese community through delicious high-quality food

educating kids on riceeducating kids on rice

Aside from getting children excited about knowing where their food comes from, Aozora Gakuen’s educational programs seek to preserve Japanese culture and create connections. Cultivating a space where children are immersed in their native language and cuisine is an essential part of helping them establish a sense of identity in the melting pot that is New York City. We are so grateful for the warm support from local restaurants and fellow suppliers during this event. 


Our takeaway? 

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Young children learn from their experiences. We are incredibly honored to have been a part of this supportive and inspiring environment and to contribute to the diversity of the preschoolers’ skills. For many, it was their first time making a rice ball and norimaki, so we are happy to have been a part of that discovery. There was a lot of trial and error, but with the teachers and our staff’s support, they ended up doing a great job. The looks on their faces when they enjoyed the rice balls and nori maki that they made themselves were priceless! 

Experiential cultural learning—especially with food—is one of the most engaging experiences for growing children. Following this event, our staff is inspired to collaborate with other organizations and businesses with similar values. 


Japanese Rice for all ages 

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At the rice factory NEW YORK, our mission is to make sure everyone can enjoy and experience the magic of Japanese Rice, no matter their age or background. The Aozora Gakuen Mid-Winter Break Camp was an amazing opportunity for us to give back to the community and help young children experience the joy of cooking. We are so grateful for the opportunity and look forward to more events like this in the future! 

Thank you, Aozora Gakuen, for having us! It was an afternoon full of smiles and deliciousness that we will remember fondly.