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Japan House fundraiser includes auction for vacations, dinner for six

10/18/2010 | Sharita Forrest, Arts Editor | 217-244-1072;

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A round-trip ticket to Japan, dinner for six people at Nanakusa Japanese Restaurant in Milwaukee, a stay in a Colorado vacation home, and a private shopping expedition at Circles Boutique in Champaign are just a few of the items that will be auctioned to raise funds for Japan House, the teaching facility on the University of Illinois campus that focuses on the Japanese arts.

art camp
A Japanese arts camp for children is among the auction items. Kimiko Gunji, director of Japan House, presents the tea ceremony for campers. | Photo courtesy Japan House

The Oct. 24 fundraiser will begin with a sake tasting and bazaar from 4-5:30 p.m. at Japan House, 2000 S. Lincoln Ave., Urbana. Among the items available for purchase will be clothing, handbags and other goods created from kimonos and obis; Japanese and Asian antiques and collectibles; jewelry and handcrafted tea bowls.

The dinner and auctions will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Illinois Ballroom at the I Hotel and Conference Center, 1900 S. First St., Champaign. An Asian-themed dinner will be followed by silent and live auctions featuring more than 1,550 items, including a sencha-do (a green tea ceremony); a stay at Timber Bluff resort in Saugatuck, Mich.; a cooking lesson with chef Thad Morrow, of Bacaro restaurant in Champaign; and the opportunity to hold a private event at the U. of I.’s new exhibition space, Figure One, in downtown Champaign.

The last auction to raise funds for Japan House was held in 2005 and raised $30,000, said Cynthia Voelkl, assistant director of Japan House.

A kimino is among the auction items. | Photo courtesy Japan House

“We have to raise funds for all programming,” Voelkl said. “We have some university funding for staffing and maintenance, but programming is provided by donations.”

A capital campaign that ended Dec. 31, 2009, raised about $4 million in pledges and gifts for the Japan House endowment. The gifts included a $1.5 million estate gift from Japan House founder Shozo Sato and his wife, Alice.

Shozo Sato, who also is a professor emeritus of art and design in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, started the university’s Japanese Arts and Cultural Program in 1964, teaching classes in ikebana (flower arranging), calligraphy and tea ceremonies in his off-campus apartment. Classes later were moved to a Victorian house located at Lincoln and California avenues in Urbana, which was razed in 1997 to construct the east campus gateway. The current facility on south Lincoln Avenue in Urbana, adjacent to the U. of I. Arboretum, was completed in 1998.

Tickets are $10 for the bazaar and sake tasting, $70 for the dinner and auction, or $75 for both events. Tables of eight tickets, which include the bazaar and dinner, are available for $550.

Co-sponsoring the event with Japan House are Bella Mia Boutique, Bodywork Associates, Busey Bank, John Frauenhoffer, Dr. Lee Gurga, Kamakura Japanese Steakhouse, and Cody and Marci Sokolski.

Tickets are available by calling Japan House at 244-9934. More information about Japan House is available on the web.

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