Our Story

Under the Cambodian big blue sky,

Wishing children will be able

to enjoy their “time of the child”,

wishing their joys increase more

on their shining eyes,

and wishing their hearts will be satisfied.

with all such wishes, I established the Small Art School in December of 2008, to provide free art education for Cambodian children.  I value children’s creative imagination and I am making efforts to encourage their expression of job.

Tomoko Kasahara

Founder of Small Art School

Who We Are

Small Art School (SAS) is a self-financed art school, founded by a Japanese art teacher – Tomoko Kasahara, with the aim to provide free art education to Cambodian children, especially for those children who have the will to learn but lack the opportunities to do so.

With the goal of helping children, Tomoko and her colleagues aim to provide free and quality education, primarily to children who have the will to learn but lack the opportunities.  We promote our students’ creative expression while allowing them to cherish joyful learning experiences as they grow.  We are very proud of our students who have deepened and broadened their knowledge and creative abilities through Small Art School’s programs and activities.


Our mission

Provides free art education to Cambodia children,especially for those children who have the will to learn but lack the opportunities to do so.
We promote the children’s creative expression while allowing them to cherish joyful learning experiences as they grow.

The Story Behind of founder Tomoko Kasahara

Tomoko's long journey to achieve her dream

Tomoko’s long term dream

With a Master’s Degree in Art from Tokyo Educational University, she started her career in 1976, as an art teacher at a public high school in Tokyo. She had been an art teacher in Japan for about 31 years. It was her dream to put up ”Small Art School”. Upon looking for a location, she visited India, Nepal, and finally decided to build the school in Siem ReapCambodia in 2007. She started teaching art in Cambodia at an orphanage center and also taught the neighborhood children. In ”Small Art School”, she provides all art supplies and education for free. To follow her dream to provide free art education to underprivileged children, she and her team decided to create the ”Khmer Kids Art Gallery” to help raise funds for ”Small Art School”.

Bringing the Beautiful to Lives of Cambodian Children

About 13 years ago, in 2003 Tomoko makes her first visit to Cambodia. At that time, she’s teaching art in Tokyo high schools and is on her way to celebrate 30 years in this profession.At that point, Tomoko already knew she wanted to make art accessible for children leaving in hard conditions, for those who are just starting their life and who need to learn to see the beauty in it. To be able to make her dream come true, Tomoko had been saving funds for the last 20 years as she wanted her cause to be completely self-financed. She was not sure where she will open her art school but was firm in her intentions. A Cambodian couple she once met in Tokyo shared with Tomoko that most of the artists and teachers were killed in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime. It’s when Tomoko knew what will be her art school’s final destination.

Purchased land in Siem Reap in 2006

Tomoko decided to build her art school in Siem Reap after the long journey of her dream.
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Three years after her first visit to Cambodia in 2003, Tomoko retired from her career in Tokyo and came back to Siem Reap all alone with a great cause to be started – Small Art School that provides free art education to underprivileged Cambodian children. The school construction started in June 2007, however, the nearby neighbourhoods paused the process for almost a year, so Tomoko held her first art lesson in Siem Reap orphanage in November 2007 with 25 children attending.


Construction started in 2007

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School opens in 2008

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Tomoko found her way to provide all art supplies and teaching materials to her little students. A year after, in 2008, she finally has a chance to open the doors of her Small Art School (SAS) to the children who have a strong desire to learn but lack opportunities to do it. In the same year, Tomoko welcomed a first Small Art School staff member – Hea Cheav.

Hea is an inspiring example of what you can achieve when you really want to learn. A middle brother, he grew up in Beng Melia area with his family and 9 siblings. When Hea turned 6 years old, his father brought him to a temple in Siem Reap as the family could no longer afford to raise all 9 children.

Meet Our Team

Here are our team members in Cambodia and Japan

Join Our Team

Kunthea Lim


Hea Chheav


Hay Chhoem


Bundeth Em

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Sokpheak Doung


Sor Sovannmony


Yuko Sakata

Art Director
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Naoharu Onuma

JP Team
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Toshie Onuma

Japan Team
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Kaori Watanabe

Japan Team

If you are interested in joining our team, please contact us.

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