With a growing number of students in UP becoming more interested in the Japanese language and culture, there was a need to start an organization to promote better understanding between Filipinos and Japanese. There have been many previous attempts by a number of students to start an org of this nature, but these attempts did not come into fruition.
Seven students answered and met the challenge. Known as the Seven Samurai, Alf, Daniel, Derick, Eric, Gay, Flor and Kit set out to spread the word. The Seven Samurai invited students from various reaches of the university to join them in the creation of an organization that enriches the culture of the two countries.
The first general assembly on July 7, 1990, marked the birth of the UP Philippines-Japan Friendship Club. The date is both historic and historical; July 7 being the date for the Tanabata Festival (七夕) and the anniversary of the founding of the Katipunan.
However, the name of the org, UP Philippines-Japan Friendship Club, was so unwieldy even when shortened into acronym form. Luckily, inspiration struck as a new and catchier name was coined: Tomo-Kai. The first part of the name comes from Tomodachi (友達) a Japanese word meaning friend, while ‘Kai’ comes from Kaibigan, a Filipino word meaning, you guessed it, friend. The name can also be read as Tomo no Kai (友の会) literally meaning Friendship Club.