Culture Connection: Japan House

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(URBANA,Ill.) — The University of Illinois attracts people from all over the world. Students and educators from afar make a home here in Champaign-Urbana.

WCIA is launching a new franchise called Culture Connection. The goal is to highlight and celebrate the diversity woven into the fabric of central Illinois.

The stories will feature people who enrich the area with their cultures — as is the case with Japan House.

The history of UIUC’s Japan House can really be traced back to one person. Shozo Sato came to campus in 1964 ready to break barriers by sharing Japanese culture. He opened the original Japan House to teach students about the Japanese arts.

“Chado, or the way of Japanese tea ceremony, is really what we’re all about,” says Japan House Education & Engagement Coordinator Michael Darin.

Nowadays, anyone in the community can experience a ceremony at Japan House and much more.

You can also stroll the gardens to find some solitude.

“If you really start to study Japanese culture, the nature aspect is such a huge part of it,” says Darin. “Everyday is a unique day, and nature provides that for us here at japan house. [It’s] a removal of all those other things, and you can sort of just be.”

But, like almost everything else, the pandemic put a pause on much of what japan house offers.

“A lot of things are very intimate here at Japan House,” explains Darin. “You may have somebody over your shoulder guiding your brush, or you may have somebody handing you a bowl of tea.”

Now, with caution in mind, the Japan House is ready to welcome people back for experiences like that.

And what better way to kick things off than with a Fall Open House. It’s set for Sunday, October 17 and will be Japan House’s first in-person event in quite some time.

This year’s theme: ‘Arigatou no Kokoro.’

“Kokoro. I think it’s becoming more commonplace in English with other Japanese words like sushi, anime, and manga,” says Japan House Education Associate Diana Liao. “But ‘kokoro’ really translates to heart, mind, and spirit.

Liao says it all comes together as a whole, and it’s all about being the best version of yourself.

“How you act. How you think. All of it becomes one. It becomes you. It becomes me. It becomes anyone and everything.

Click here for more details on Japan House’s Fall Open House.

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