We are delighted to announce that Kimiko Gunji will be the recipient of the 2011 Lifetime Achievement ACE Award from 40North/88West, Champaign County's art, culture, and entertainment council.
The award ceremony will be held on Tuesday, October 4, 2011, at 5:30 pm at the Canopy Club in Urbana. Tickets are only $10 and I invite you to join us to celebrate this well-deserved recognition. Unfortunately, Professor Gunji will be in Japan that day but Interim Director Jennifer Gunji-Ballsrud will accept on her behalf and we hope that many Japan House supporters join us for the celebration!
Tickets may be purchased at the following link:
or you may contact 40North for more information at 217-351-9841.
Please join us to celebrate both Kimiko's accomplishments and the other award winners!
Below is her nomination:
It is my pleasure to nominate Kimiko Gunji for an ACE award in the field of education. The retirement of Kimiko Gunji from the University of Illinois marks the end of a very special educational force. For close to four decades Kimiko has created powerful learning experiences for University of Illinois students and members of the community. She may have officially retired from the University in August of this year but I have no doubt however that she will find a way to continue sharing her vision for teaching Japanese culture.
Teaching in Champaign County since the mid 1970’s, Kimiko’s unique approach to teaching cultural arts can be seen in the mission and programming of Japan House. Japan House provides an academic, cultural, and natural setting for promoting an appreciation of Japanese culture and related Asian cultural concepts. Built around the concept of the Way of Tea, with three separate tearooms, the Japanese style building is a center for teaching and learning about Japanese art and culture. However, the overarching goal is truly to promote peace through cultural tolerance. Kimiko believes strongly that learning about another culture greatly increases your tolerance and respect for all cultures.
Began in an old Victorian house in the 1970s, it might have been the end of Japan House when founder Shozo Sato retired, and the house was torn down. However, Kimiko believed that there should be a permanent facility for Japan House. So in 1998, as a result of Kimiko’s determined and tireless fundraising, the doors to the current facility opened and the gardens were planted. Today Champaign County is fortunate to have this incredible immersive environment that makes learning experiences truly transformative.
Kimiko taught not just the University students that attend classes at Japan House through the School of Art and Design, but also the entire Champaign-Urbana community---through classes and programs, and also through every single personal interaction in which she was involved. At Japan House anyone can join classes open to the general public for studying the tea ceremony and Ikebana, or meet monthly for cultural presentations and tea, and groups, ranging from grade-schoolers to university students to senior citizens, visit and experience the tea ceremony.
In these times marked by intercultural conflict and misunderstanding, the mission of Japan House is increasingly important both politically and personally, and both globally and locally. As Kimiko herself wrote about her teaching:
This path upon which I guide students is also a means of exploring a new approach of viewing their own lives and the world in which they live. It is my utmost hope that the knowledge that I share and the opportunities that I provide for them to encounter new experiences will not only broaden their knowledge and awareness but also will amply enrich their lives. Through my teaching and my art, I hope to impart the significance of becoming a fine human being through the vitalization of the senses and the natural manifestation of one’s heart.
Although Kimiko’s formal teaching is perhaps over, there is no question that she will continue to teach, and to encourage transformative experiences and reflection to everyone with whom she interacts. And there is certainly no doubt that her influence will continue to be felt by her students and the lives they lead and those that they teach, and all those that will continue to learn through Japan House in the future.