Japan House celebrates 20th anniversary of permanent home



The Japan House is celebrating the 20th anniversary at its permanent location with live performances and a Japanese temple festival.

By Madalyn Velisaris, Staff Writer

Japan House will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of its permanent home with live performances, a dinner and fundraiser, and an annual Japanese temple festival.

Cynthia Voelkl, assistant director of the Japan House, said the 20th anniversary of the permanent home is important because the home helped create a permanent facility for the study of Chado, the Way of Tea and Japanese culture.

“(The 20th anniversary) also celebrates the strength of women, as the two leaders of this facility have been female and we are honoring that by featuring all female chefs and female Japanese rock bands as part of the celebration,” Voelkl said.

The beginning of the Japan House goes back all the way to the 1960s, when an artist-in-residence at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Shozo Sato, now professor emeritus in the School of Art and Design, started different courses about Japanese art. Sato used an old Victorian house to teach students about Japanese culture in an authentic Japanese setting, Voelkl said.

The home was lost in the redevelopment of campus, which caused the search for a permanent home to start. Through primarily private donations, the Japan House received their first open home in June 1998.  

Voelkl sees the 20th anniversary celebration of the permanent home as an opportunity to honor and celebrate the milestones and people of the Japan House. A way to honor this is through the different activities happening throughout the weekend celebration, which include the annual Matsuri Festival, a traditional Japanese, family-friendly temple festival where people can observe and participate in multiple events.

“We hope to share the beauty and joy of Japanese culture,” Voelkl said. “While the tea ceremonies and the gardens are great examples of the peace and tranquility of Japanese culture, we also want to highlight the celebratory side of their culture, so Matsuri is the perfect way to do that. We are very excited to welcome old friends and alums, as well as bring the excitement of what we do to the entire University and Champaign-Urbana communities.”

According to the Japan House website, the 20th Anniversary Weekend will take place on Sept. 8 and 9.

The 20th anniversary celebration consists of different festivities throughout the weekend, which include a performance at the Krannert Center, a dinner and fundraising event and a Matsuri Festival.

There will be a special performance at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts to commemorate when the Japan House built its first permanent home.

The performance will take place on Sept. 8 at 2 p.m. and will include different Japanese musicians and performers. To conclude the event, there will be a tea ceremony.

Additionally, the Matsuri Festival will be held on Sept. 9 from 2 to 9 p.m. The event will take place in and around the Japan House.

The event will be free to the public, but tickets for food, drink and some performances can be purchased online through the Japan House’s website.  

[email protected]