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Japan House announces their 20th anniversary celebration

Japan House is a gem in the community. It’s really just a wonderful place to visit, whether you are strolling the surrounding gardens, participating in a tea ceremony, or attending one of their many events throughout the year, and they are a consistent collaborator in the community. 

All of of those elements will be coming together this September, as they celebrate their 20 anniversary in their permanent home. The celebration will take place September 8th and 9th, culminating in the annual Matsuri festival, which will be bigger and more amazing than usual, and it is usually quite amazing. From Japan House:

The 20th Anniversary Celebration will highlight female artists and performers in recognition of Professor Emeritus Kimiko Gunji, the former director of Japan House who was instrumental in establishing our permanent location. She obtained funding from various Japanese organizations, donors from around the world, and much community support for the development of this Japan House in 1998, despite the fact that Japanese culture, including the Way of Tea, has traditionally been dominated by men.

Here’s what they have in store:

Saturday, September 8th, 2 p.m.: Performance at Krannert Center

The celebration will feature Japanese musicians and performers, including five musicians from the Toho Gakuen College of Drama and Music in Japan specializing in traditional koto and shamisen playing; Michiyoshi Sato, a prominent Japanese player of the tsugaru jamisen; Ho Etsu Taiko, a Japanese drumming group from Chicago; and Obon Odori, a Japanese folk dance performed during Obon festivals in Japan. The event will also include a tea ceremony by representatives of the Urasenke School of Tea in Kyoto, a parade of models in kimono dressed by head teacher, Toshie Kasada of the Hakubi Kimono School in Tokyo, and a large-scale calligraphy executed by Japanese calligrapher Seiran Chiba. 

Tickets: On sale to the general public Saturday, July 14th, at 10 a.m. at

$65 General Admission, $55 Senior Citizen, $25 Non-U of I College Student, $10 U of I Student/Youth High School and younger.

Saturday, September 8th, 7 p.m.: “East Meets Midwest” Fundraiser and Dinner at the Arboretum

This elegant evening will feature a top female chef from Japan, Chef Suzuko Enomoto, who will be collaborating with noted local female chefs Whitney Ackermann and Raquel Ritz from Champaign-Urbana. Each of the five carefully crafted courses will be paired with either wine or sake. The dinner will be held within the Arboretum in a tent overlooking the ponds and Japan House, and will include a variety of speakers and performers highlighting the best moments of the past twenty years. This should be a most spectacular meal and memorable evening celebrating the next twenty years of Japan House.

Tickets: Tickets are limited and go on sale Monday, July 2nd, at 10 a.m. by calling Japan House at 217-244-9934.

$275 General Public, $250 Tomonokai Members. Inquire about purchasing a special table of 8 for your group or business.

Sunday, September 9th, 2 to 9 p.m.: 4th Annual Matsuri Festival at Japan House and Arboretum

Matsuri, a family-friendly event, will feature martial arts demonstrations and musical performances, local craft vendors, Asian-inspired food, children’s activities, as well as the crowd favorite Masaji Terasawa, the Candyman, a Japanese street performer whose amezaiku creations are truly ephemeral art pieces.  Because of the 20th anniversary, our Matsuri will be an expanded version of years past. This year, we will feature specialty beers from Triptych Brewing and sake from Maverick wines! We will top off the weekend’s activities with performances by internationally known Japanese all-female rock bands the 5, 6, 7, 8’s and Shonen Knife and then culminating the evening with fireworks. Admission to the Matsuri Festival is FREE, and tickets for food and activities are budget-friendly.

Tickets: Monday, July 2nd at 10 a.m., pre-set packages of t-shirts and tickets will be available for purchase prior to the event. That way, you and your family can come to the festival wearing your Matsuri t-shirt with tickets in your pocket! To purchase tickets and packages available for pre-event pick up or will-call, please visit the event site.

Photos provided by Japan House

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