Groundbreaking ceremony includes traditional Japanese blessing

In addition to the requisite dignitaries with shovels, a groundbreaking at the UI Arboretum June 3 included an appearance by a Buddhist priest.

The Rev. Sunnan Kubose, a UI alumnus from Skokie, Ill., offered a traditional Japanese blessing of the site where the university's new Japan House and Arboretum ponds will be constructed this summer. Kubose said the ceremony, which is customarily performed at new building sites in Japan, is not intended "to ask for blessings or good fortune, but to acknowledge and recognize that [the site] is already blessed, and to recognize the interdependence and connections ... that made it possible."

The new building will replace an old Victorian home on the corner of Lincoln and California avenues in Urbana, which has housed the university's Japanese arts and culture program for nearly two decades. The facility is being razed to clear space for construction of a campus "gateway," a formal entrance area on the east side of campus.

The new Japan House and adjacent ponds will be located on the grounds of the Arboretum, a 160-acre site in Urbana, bounded on the north by Florida Avenue and on the west by Lincoln Avenue.

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