Director's Statement of 20th Anniversary
I have such anticipation for what is to come in 2018!

Although Japan House has been a part of the University of Illinois since the mid-1960’s, our current facility is turning TWENTY! I couldn’t be happier to honor our anniversary with joyful commemoration and ample festivities.

As a person who has a great admiration and respect for dogs, 2018 is the Year of the Dog according to the Chinese and Japanese Zodiac calendars. This very auspicious year also marks the start of the 20th anniversary of Japan House! Even though Japan House was incredibly blessed in 2017 with countless visitors, generous supporters, eager volunteers, inspiring interns, and well-attended events, the year proved to be challenging for me personally. With the sudden loss of my mother-in-law in spring, the loss of mentors and friends, and then the loss of my dear father in fall, the year proved to be emotionally overwhelming and dispiriting.

My father was born in 1934, which means he was born in the year of the dog (just like my sister who was born in 1970). It is believed that those who are born in the year of the dog have all of the fine qualities of human nature — they are loyal, sincere, unafraid of life's challenges, and they seek harmonious relationships with others around them. Bearing witness to this with my father and sister, I am eager to embrace our new year with much hope for positive energy, confidence, stabilization, and much generosity of heart and spirit.

It is stated that this is a year in which we must have the conviction to believe in the good through our own sincere devotion and energy towards humanity. This year, I will embrace positivity and celebrate the past 20 years of Japan House with great admiration and respect for all who came before me. Due to the efforts of Japan House founders Shozo Sato and Kimiko Gunji, we can celebrate our past and dream of the potential for the next 20 years!

I ask that you please keep weekend of September 8th-9th open. We are planning a two-day celebration highlighting a multitude of traditional Japanese art forms that we believe represent the breadth of what Japan House has shared over the past 20 years — Chado, the Way of Tea, calligraphy, music, dance, kimono, food, sake, and much, much more. I see this weekend as a homecoming for all to reconnect, commemorate, and acknowledge how much our campus has grown and changed, and that Japan House is still a home for all ages and for all visitors.

I wish everyone a very joyful, harmonious, healthy, and calming new year which will require each of us to inspirit ourselves to be the best people we can be. I anxiously await seeing all of you again and welcoming you to our Twentieth Anniversary Celebration! I urge you to “come home” and reminisce over a bowl of tea, reacquaint with former classmates and friends, and to renew your kokoro (mind, heart and spirit) by being a part of the start of the next 20 years of Japan House.

Jennifer Gunji-Ballsrud, Director Japan House
Jennifer Gunji-Ballsrud, Director