The Japan Room was founded as a salon by Miss Pauline Chakmakjian on 20th June 2006 to promote genuine exchange among people interested in the arts, history, and culture of Japan through combined academic and social evenings. Not normally open to the public or part of a tour, The Japan Room itself is Lodge Room No. 11 located within the ceremonial and administrative headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England known as the Freemasons’ Hall. The Japan Room is a not-for-profit entity and all charges to attend events are designed to cover costs.
Freemasonry – as we know it today – originally emanated from the convivial and learned tradition of Whiggish clubbing in eighteenth-century London, which was the English equivalent of the salon culture highly popular in Continental countries like France and Italy. In keeping alive this somewhat lost tradition, The Japan Room hopes to revive both the educational and social atmosphere of the salon style of meeting.
The Freemasons’ Hall was built about a century ago when the United Grand Lodge of England decided to build a new headquarters in London. In 1920, a committee was formed to appeal to every Freemason under the English Constitutions for contributions to a fund called the Masonic Million Memorial Fund. Contributions were voluntary, of course, but outstanding contributions were recognized by special jewels of different grades of metal depending on the amount given called Hall Stone Jewels; making the relevant district known as a Hallstone District. The Districts of Japan and Burma overseas and the English Province of Buckinghamshire were further distinguished in a special way for their large contributions by having lodge rooms named after them – Japan is No.11, Burma is No.12, and Buckinghamshire is No.17. Of the three, Japan was the first to qualify as a Hall Stone District since it donated about £2,625 (0.2% of the total £1.3 million raised).