Join the Japan House Community

Without our friends we could not make Japan House programs happen.

Become a Tomonokai Member

The Tomonokai (Friends of Japan House) program was established in 1998 to support Japan House programming and events and promoting an understanding of Japanese Arts and Culture.

The Tomonokai has grown to become a vibrant community of friends. When you become a Tomonokai members you not only support Japan House's programming, you are also joining others who care about Japanese arts and culture, and who believe in the power of these arts and aesthetics to bring about moments of peace and friendship and joyful learning.

One hundred percent of Japan House outreach programming is funded by private gifts. The tours, tea ceremonies, open houses, public classes, workshops, and more – all are possible only because of private donations.

Membership Benefits

Becoming a members makes you part of the special community that surrounds Japan House. You will take part in special members only events, with delicious food and drink, throughout the year and of course, receive special reduced fees on all Japan House tickets events.

Other ways to support

Ogura-Sato Annex Fund

Shozo Sato was the founder of the old Japan House at Lincoln and California Avenues. As a visiting professor in the 1960's he began teaching tea ceremony, kabuki, and other Japanese arts. He was given the use of an old Victorian house and developed it into the Japanese teaching and cultural outreach center known as Japan House. Later, Professor Sato retired and left the community, eventually settling in California with his wife Alice. In 2015 they returned to the Champaign-Urbana community and once again are deeply involved in supporting Japan House.

In 2017 Japan House announced plans to expand Japan House, as it has grown beyond its 1998 facility. Shozo Sato and Alice Oguro Sato made a major donation to Japan House which will begin the funding of the new annex, to be known as the Ogura-Sato Annex in honor both Satos who have done so much for Japan House over the years. Donations to the Ogura-Sato Fund will go to fund this new addition which will create sorely needed space for a new, accessible tea room, storage and office space, and library and meeting space.

Make a donation online

Kimiko Gunji Legacy Fund

Kimiko Gunji decided that Japan House needed a permanent facility after the old Japan House was lost in campus redevelopment. Through her tireless fundraising, beginning with her tea school, the Urasenke Foundation in Japan, she made it happen. The doors to the present day Japan House opened in 1998 and she led Japan House until 2011.

In June of that year, Japan House and its supporters gave an emotional goodbye to Kimiko Gunji as she stepped down as Director. The Kimiko Gunji Legacy Fund was established to raise funds for a Japanese style bridge to be constructed in the Japan House gardens and named in her honor. The bridge was inaugurated on September 27, 2015. Current gifts to this fund help bring Japanese visiting artists to Japan House and truly commemorate the extraordinary contributions made by Professor Kimiko Gunji throughout her teaching career.

Make a donation online

Japan House Internship Program

In 2013, the Japan House Internship program quickly became one of our keystone initiatives. Originally, we thought of hiring just one, perhaps two, interns. However, we found ourselves overwhelmed by the wide range of talent and enthusiasm for Japanese culture from our applicants and thus we accepted six interns. Later, we realized that this serendipitous decision made the Internship program even stronger, as the group became its own community, bringing an esprit de corps that we could not have prescribed.

With a group of 6-8 interns working together with us, it is now possible to expand our programming and hold larger events such as Matsuri, which attracts thousands of attendees. At the same time, the internship program also enables Japan House to offer more intimate workshops teaching students everything from how to wear a yukata, to cooking Japanese food, to understanding Japanese etiquette. It has been a great success for the Interns and Japan House alike.

Make a donation online

James and Lorene Bier Garden Fund

The role of the garden in Japan House's environment and teachings is almost impossible to calculate. For many people, wandering through the Arboretum and coming upon the gardens is their first exposure to Japan House. Others might come to Japan House for a tea ceremony and then learn how integral the garden is in welcoming them and preparing them for the experience of tea.

Without a doubt Japan House could not teach its lessons without the James and Lorene Bier Gardens. Their generosity has been an incredible gift to all of us and without them we would not have the experiential cultural resource that is Japan House & Gardens. To continue to maintain these magnificent gardens that Mr. Bier spent 20 years developing, we seek your support.

Make a donation online