History of the house

1938 12 01

Juozas Tonkūnas, who was then Minister of Education, bought the 523 square metre plot at 30 Vaižganto Street from Elzė Zabielskienė.

1940 04 18

Mr Tonkūnas wrote an application to the Kaunas Mayor's Building Commission for the construction of a garage. However, already on 15 June. On June 15, the occupying army of the USSR crossed the Lithuanian state border, starting the first occupation of Lithuania.

1939 06 06

Juozas Tonkūnas mortgaged his plot of land to the Land Bank when he took out a loan to build a house.

1939 06 27

Mr Tonkūnas informed the Building Commission that the roof of the house at 30 Vaižganto Street had already been completed, on 3 October of the same year: "I am finishing the house".

Four days later, on 7 October 1939, the building was completed. The diplomat and his family moved in on the second floor, and the Japanese Consulate in Lithuania began to operate on the ground floor.

1939 03 31

Tonkūnas informed the Building Commission that construction of the two-storey house would start on 1 April 1939. On 20 September of the same year, permission was granted to convert the attic of the house into living quarters.

1939 02 22

Tonkūnas submitted his application to the Kaunas City Building Commission, together with a design for the house prepared by his wife's brother, engineer Juozas Milvydas.

1941 06 09

Kėdainiai KGB Senior Lt. Kuznacov signed the arrest order for Tonkūnas. During the deportations, Tonkūnas and his family were exiled to Siberia. His wife's relatives, the Milvydas, remain living in the house.

1942 09 07

Celina Milvydienė, the mother-in-law of J. Tonkūnas, asks Kaunas City Municipality's construction department for materials for the construction of the furnace. It is likely that during the occupation additional residents were added to the house.

Second soviet occupation

Several families lived in the house, which was converted into a Soviet "communal house", with one room per family.


The house was returned to Tonkūnas' children Rimantas Juozas Tonkūnas and Vida Tonkūnaitė - Ramanauskienė.


In December, the Sugihara "Diplomats for Life" Foundation was registered.


The museum's first exhibition opens in Sugihara's former study. The last inhabitants move out. The VMU Centre for Japanese Studies is opened on the second floor of the building under an agreement with Vytautas Magnus University.


Ramūnas and Birutė Garbaravičiai bought the house from the children of J. Tonkūnas, thus ensuring the museum's continued operation.


The VMU Centre for East Asian Studies has moved to other premises and since the end of the year the museum has been open on both floors of the building.