Nikkei Seniors Health Care announces a $1 million gift from Jane Nimi in memory of Robert Nimi

Burnaby, BC  November 01, 2016 –Nikkei Seniors Health Care and Housing Society, is honoured to announce that it has received a $1 million gift from Jane Nimi, a long time supporter and volunteer in the Japanese Canadian community. “This gift is in memory of my late husband Robert Nimi, he was dedicated to the care of seniors and wanted to see this happen during his lifetime. Today, we are giving this gift of his dream to the Society” said Jane Nimi, wife of the late Robert Nimi. With this generous tranformational gift from the Nimis', Nikkei Home is embarking on a renovation project that will enable seniors to reside longer at the assisted living residences by incorporating design and equipment. Cathy Makihara, executive director for the Society offered “The renovated suites will allow seniors to continue to enjoy the life they created at Nikkei Home for years to come. And, with the development of a larger and more spacious activity room, seniors will be able to enjoy a greater number of healthy activities for both body and mind. This donation will make a significant impact for seniors, and fits with Nikkei Place's theme this year of Feels Like Home.” “It is incredibly exciting and we are greatly honored and appreciative of Jane’s and the family gift. This is a wonderful gift through which we celebrate our long and close friendship with Jane and remember fondly working side by side with Bob.” said Society president Ruth Coles. Renovation is expected to begin in early 2017, and the Society will be proudly unveiling the new name of Robert Nimi Nikkei Home on November 16, 2016.  Nikkei Seniors Health Care and Housing Society operates with funding from the provincial government and the incredible support of donors, volunteers and staff.   For more information: Cathy Makihara Executive Director, Nikkei Seniors Health Care and Housing Society 604-777-5000 (ext 2003) or

Honouring Our People: Breaking the Silence

Honouring Our People: Breaking the SilenceStories of those those who lived through this seminal time in the history of the Japanese Canadian community.

On three days in September 2009, families, friends, and survivors came together for the Honouring Our People: Stories of the Internment conference in Burnaby, BC. The conference paid tribute to the Japanese Canadians who experienced racism, alienation, betrayal, restrictions, uprooting and loss during and after WWII.   The Canadian-born nisei (second generation Japanese Canadians) spoke openly about the experience of being labelled ‘enemy aliens’ and exiled from their homes on the west coast. Many sansei (third generation Japanese Canadians) grew up ignorant of the catastrophic events that had shaped their parents’ lives. At the conference, as refected in a new book, Honouring Our People: Breaking the Silence,  the nisei break the silence on their own terms, affording us the texture of the personal, with intimate glimpses into lives lived in adversity, but infused with courage and the will to survive. The resilience and perseverance shown by Japanese Canadians who not only endured, but often prospered after the war, laid the foundation for the comunity we enjoy today This 260-page illustrated book collects 52 stories from the conference, creating the opportunity for dialogue and learning through the first-hand experiences of those who lived through this seminal time in the history of the Japanese Canadian community. Available at Nikkei Centre in the NNMCC museum shop. $24.95

An incredibly successful Community Awards + Fundraising Dinner in support of our ‘Nikkei Place: Feels Like Home’ initiative

On Saturday, September 24th, 2016 we celebrated and honoured four of our Nikkei community leaders at our Community Awards + Fundraising Dinner presented by Canadian Tire! We want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who came and supported the event, and we hope you enjoyed the evening! Your support benefits Nikkei Place: Feels Like Home  our initiative to make Nikkei Place a second home for all to enjoy. It was truly a night of inspiration, listening to the rich stories and accomplishments of our awardees. We feel thankful many of you came to celebrate with us as we honoured Dr. Akira Horii, Mr. Takeo Yamashiro, Ms. Yoko Matsuno and Mr. John Endo Greenaway for their immense service to the Nikkei Community and to Canada. This year also marked the first time we were able to award the Nikkei Youth Athletics Bursary – congratulations once again to Beth Kamimura!

Thanks to the generosity of our community, together we were able to raise over $100,000 in a single evening before event expenses for our Feels Like Home initiative.

The Board of Directors and staff of Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre and Nikkei Place Foundation thank everyone — the awardees, guests, sponsors, donors, presenters and volunteers — for helping make this year’s Awards Dinner a remarkable success, and we hope to see everyone back again next year! We invite you to view and share photos from the event with your friends below or connect with us on our facebook page! Thank you once again for your support!
Photography by Manto Nakamura
Questions? Contact Nikkei Place Foundation at or 604.777.2122

Hiroshima: Memoirs of a Survivor

Sachi Komura Rummel's story of survival and renewal

Join us for a talk with author Sachi Komura Rummel

Saturday, November 26, 2016 2pm Free admission. Please RSVP to or 604.777.7000 ext.109 English and Japanese books available for purchase and signing.

In the early morning of August 6th, 1945, an eight year old girl played in the schoolyard with her classmates. Suddenly there was a flash of light followed by a tremendous blast. In an instant her life had changed forever. This is her story of survival and renewal. She hopes that her life and her story will enable people to reflect on the terror that war and nuclear weapons pose to present and future generations. Sachi Rummel

Jane Nimi receives Honorary Lifetime Membership

In spring this year, Jane Nimi received Honorary Lifetime Membership. This recognition is belated as you can imagine, any person who receives a lifetime membership has been serving the organizations for many years. Jane, is a good friend to us all here at Nikkei Place, and we have appreciated her support through the years to the seniors and to the cultural community.

Jane helped create a thriving flower arrangement program at Nikkei Home. For over 15 years, she served as a volunteer on various programs including the ever popular blood pressure measure at the Powel Street Festival.

And, to some she is best known as the stalwart and backbone of support to her late husband, Robert, who served for many years on the boards of both organization, and notably the president of the Nikkei Seniors Health and Housing Society for numerous years. We are the grateful members of our community who have benefited from Jane’s kindness, dedication and service. The Nikkei Place Honorary Lifetime Membership is a joint effort of the organizations to recognize those individuals who have been a member volunteer for 10 years or more and have been an outstanding individual for 20 years or more. Nikkei Place will be recognizing individuals each year, and Jane Nimi is the first recipient. As an Honorary Lifetime Member Jane will receive a membership for life from both organizations. Congratulations and thank you Jane! Group photo Ruth RTB Bob Jane

WWI Vetran Zennosuke Inouye Re-enactment

Zennosuke Inouye - A prominent Surrey businessman, chauffeur, and vetran of World War I.

Re-enactment Portrayed by Kevin Takahide Lee November 5, 2016 at Nikkei Centre 2pm Free admission. Please make a reservation: | 604.777.7000 ext.109.

Join us for a special performance of moments from the life of Nikkei First World War veteran. 50 minute performance followed by talkback session with actor Kevin Takahide Lee** & Writer/Director Yvette Dudley-Neuman**.  Presented by the City of Surrey, Heritage Services.

Zennosuke Inouye (1884-1957), interned WWI veteran NNM 2005.1.1.29

Zennosuke Inouye (1884-1957), interned WWI veteran NNM 2005.1.1.29

Zennosuke Inouye was a prominent Surrey businessman, chauffeur, and veteran of World War I.  After the war, he purchased 80 acres of land in Strawberry Hills through the Soldier’s Settlement Board and built a pioneer homestead. He was President of the Surrey Berry Growers’ Association and a volunteer at the Japanese Language School. During World War II, he and his family endured the hardship of the internment camps and the repossession of his farmland, profitable business and home.  He wrote 80 letters to  government offices and ministers, fighting to regain his land. He is the only Japanese Canadian war veteran to have his land returned to him. This theatrical presentation is part of the City of Surrey’s Heritage Re-Enactment program:  **The participation of these Artists are arranged by permission of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association. city-of-surreys-heritage-re-enactment-program

Dr. Akira Horii: Presidents’ Award Recipient

Every year at Nikkei Place's Community Awards + Fundraising Dinner we honour people or organizations with awards for their immense contributions in building a strong and vibrant Nikkei community for all. They are our community leaders that help shape our ever changing community. This year, we honour four awardees -- Dr. Akira Horii with the Presidents' Award, Takeo Yamashiro with the Outstanding Community Service Award, Yoko Matsuno with the Japanese Culture Award, and John Endo Greenaway with the Japanese Canadian History Preservation & Education Award.

Meet Dr. Akira Horii:

Presidents' Award Recipient

  • Japanese-Canadian, interned at East Lillooet
  • In 1960, became one of only four Japanese-speaking physicians in Vancouver.
  • Now a retired family physician who served many Japanese-Canadian patients
  • Clinical Professor Emeritus of Family Practice, University of British Columbia
  • Regularly shares his history and family’s story at area schools, universities and at Nikkei Place.
  • Long-time supporter of Nikkei Place and provided flu shots to the residents of Nikkei Home and donated his fees to the Society.
  • Volunteered with Strathcona area schools, Vancouver Aquarium, Nikkei Centre and Nikkei Senior’s Health Care & Housing Society.
  • Presently an active volunteer Speaker for Nikkei National Museum’s Taiken Education program
  • Former Board member of Nikkei Seniors Health Care & Housing Society

Akira Horii’s parents had lived in BC since their arrival in the 1920s from Mirozu, a small fishing village in the Wakayama area of Japan. His father helped to build a thriving cod fishery and establish the first multi-ethnic fishing association, the BC Cod Fishermen’s Coop. The Horii family lived in Japantown, an area around Powell Street in Vancouver.
Following Pearl Harbor, Akira reflects on life in his neighborhood and that “Japantown came to a standstill bringing with it economic hardship and a half to social life. There were no late ball games, judo practices, concerts or visiting; no ‘hanging out’ by the young Nisei or listening and dancing to jukeboxes at a café. We were warned that breaking the curfew could lead to severe punishement, including being sent to a prisoner-of-war camp in a place no one had heard of – Angler, Ontario.”
After his father’s fishing boat was taken away and they were ordered to leave the coast, Akira and his family were granted permission to move to East Lillooet, a selfsupporting internment map in the BC interior. The family had to pay for their own transportation and housing materials. At the camp, they were responsible for building a school and paying the teachers’ wages. There, Akira also became involved in baseball. He remembers how baseball brought the Japanese-Canadian and local white communities closer. In 1949, after the ban was lifted that restricted Japanese Canadians from returning to the coast, Akira Horii entered the University of British Columbia. After finishing his first year, he was pressured into joining his father in the family fishing business. He speaks about this experience at length in an oral history interview for Simon Fraser University’s Japanese Canadian Oral History Collection. After three years, Akira went back to complete his undergraduate degree before entering medial school. He graduated in 1960, becoming one of four Japanese-speaking physicians in Vancouver. Dr. Horii has shared his story of internment at schools, churches, public lectures and through books and oral histories at his own expense. He has provided insight into the culture and heritage of Japanese Canadians from their pioneering days through war years and to the present. One of his nominees wrote ”Although now retired from his profession as a family doctor, his kindness to all people regardless of racial origin is well remembered.” He provided flu shots to residents at Nikkei Home, at no cost to the seniors. Dr. Horii is a former Board Member of the Nikkei Seniors Health Care & Housing Society and is an active volunteer speaker for the Cultural Centre’s Taiken Education program. A Nikkei Centre staff member wrote:
“Aki Horii has played a vital role in our education programs for a number of years, and in my experience with him over the past year, he has increased his amount of involvement and dedication to the programs. He has spoken to elementary, high school and university level visiting students and has visited two school in spring of 2016 to speak to one group of 40 private school students and another group of about 120 public school students at the elementary level. He is always open to helping out and is incredible to work with. He makes the programs easy to organize and operate. He is open to speaking about historical events and his personal experiences to reach the children in a unique way. Aki has also been open to using powerpoint presentations in his talks, which I operate, and has adapted to this method very easily. Aki is also featured as one of four individuals on our Taiken Education Film series: Nikkei Experiences: Our Elders, Our Stories. The films have been produced, and are being made accessible this summer to fully launch to educators in the fall of 2016. Finally, his gentle manner, approachability, and respectfulness create a good environment to teaching children and youth, and make it very easy for me to organize the programs.”
Dr. Akira HoriiIn recognition for his distinguished career in Medicine, the University of British Columbia awarded Dr. Horii with Emeritus status as a Clinical Professor Emeritus of Family Practice in 1997. Dr. Horii demonstrates an outstanding dedication to his own work while maintaining a high level of commitment to community service and education. He has been recognized by his peers and also from within his community. Dr. Horii’s interviews can be found in the following: • Interview with Akira Horii: Japanese Canadian Oral History Collection, Simon Fraser University • Interview with Akira Horii: Collections of Nikkei National Museum • Fukawa, M. Sprit of the Fleet: BC’s Japanese Canadian Fisherman (2009) • Hickman, P. and Fukawa, M., Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Japanese Canadian Internment in the Second World War

We extend our deepest appreciation to all of the award recipients for their contributions and commitment to the Nikkei Community. Please check out posts on our other awardees Takeo YamashiroYoko Matsuno, and John Endo Greenaway!

物部 : Warrior Spirit, the Bravery and Honour of Japanese Canadian soldiers in the First World War exhibit

New Warrior Spirit Exhibit Opening: October 8, 2016 at Nikkei National Museum

Sgt Masumi Mitsui and Masajiro Shishido of the 10th Battalion in uniform before departure 1916

NNM 2014-10-1-10: Sgt Masumi Mitsui and Masajiro Shishido of the 10th Battalion in uniform before departure 1916

Exhibit runs: October 8, 2016 – Jan 15, 2017 Beginning in early 1916, over 200 Japanese Canadian recruits began military training in Vancouver. This was a time when the Japanese in Canada had no right to vote, and yet they felt called to serve the country they identified as their home. Over 222 soldiers from the Japanese Canadian Volunteer Corps fought in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, participating in the major battles of the Somme, Vimy Ridge, Lens, Avion, Hill 70, Passchendaele, Amiens, Arras, Cambrai, Denain, Valenciennes, Mons. Fifty-five were killed or died of their wounds. Only six came home uninjured.  Letters from the front describe the exemplary and fearless fighting of Japanese Canadians who won thirteen military medals for bravery. Despite demonstrated loyalty to Canada, these veterans were still denied the vote until 1931. As well, during the Second World War, their military service was ignored and they were included in the mass internment of Japanese Canadians. This exhibition commemorates the 100th anniversary of the loyalty, dedication, courage, and commitment to a better Canada from the early community of Nikkei in Canada.

Public Events

Vimy Day commemoration:  April 9, 2016 War Memorial, Stanley Park, in conjunction with the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival 2-4pm, including reception at the Stanley Park Rowing Club Mountain View Cemetery plaque unveiling and walking tour: August 6, 2016 10am. More information here. Warrior Spirit Exhibit Opening: October 8, 2016 3-5pm at Nikkei National Museum. Free admission. Zennosuke Inouye re-enactment: November 5, 2016 2pm 50 minute performance followed by talkback session with actor Kevin Takahide Lee & Writer/Director Yvette Dudley-Neuman. Special performance of moments from the life of a Nikkei First World War veteran. Free admission. Please RSVP to Remembrance Day ceremony: November 11 , 2016 11am Remembrance Day ceremony at the Japanese Canadian War Memorial in Stanley Park, Vancouver. Followed by reception. Hiroshima talk by Sachi Rummel: November 26, 2016 2pm Free admission. Please RSVP to

Takeo Yamashiro: Outstanding Community Service Award Recipient

Every year at Nikkei Place's Community Awards + Fundraising Dinner we honour people or organizations with awards for their immense contributions in building a strong and vibrant Nikkei community for all. They are our community leaders that help shape our ever changing community. This year, we honour four awardees -- Dr. Akira Horii with the Presidents' Award, Takeo Yamashiro with the Outstanding Community Service Award, Yoko Matsuno with the Japanese Culture Award, and John Endo Greenaway with the Japanese Canadian History Preservation & Education Award.

Meet Takeo Yamashiro:

  • Co-founder of Tonari Gumi
  • Executive Director of Tonari-Gumi for almost 30 years
  • Hiroshima survivor of Atomic bombing
  • Master Shakuhachi (Japanese flute) player
  • Educated public on shakuhachi and traditional Japanese music all over North America

Takeo Yamashiro was born in July of 1943 and is a registered survivor of the atomic bombing on August 6, 1945. He began playing the shakuhachi in Kyoto, while in University. He was the last uchi deshi (live-in disciple) of master Kikusui Koku at the Shakado Temple, Kyoto where he received his shihan certificate and shakuhachi name “RENPU,” Lotus Wind. Takeo came to Vancouver, Canada as a tourist in June 1972, by an invitation of his musical students from Canada. He then became a landed immigrant in the following year as a ‘Musician Instrumentalist’ (for the shakuhachi). Of this time, he reflects that “my language skills were very limited, but the shakuhachi worked as a language, really, as a way of communicating with people.” He has performed in concert and toured as a solo artist as well as with Themba Tana, Uzume Taiko and Kokoro Dance. He achieved landed immigrancy in 1972. Along with Jun Hamada and Michiko Sakata, Takeo Yamashiro founded the Tonari Gumi Japanese social services organization. In the fall of 1973, Jun (Samuel) Hamada received a federal employment creation grant under project named “Japanese Community Volunteers”. This initial five-month-trial operation of the Issei support program, run between January and May in 1974, came into the hands of Jun and Takeo, as one of the four original employees. The Japanese name “Tonari-Gumi” was born before the termination of the project. The initial five months gave them time for quick on-site need study in the Issei community. In June, Jun and Takeo visited Downtown Eastside Residents Association (DERA) and negotiated with Bruce Eriksen to secure a office space. Bruce sympathized with the Issei’s situation in the old “Nihonmachi” area and decided to let them use a small room shared with their Chinese Community Worker. By the end of same month, June 1974, the DERA hired Takeo as their Japanese Community Worker. Jun meanwhile had to make trips back and forth to the Vancouver General Hospital for dialysis—kidney failure. In April 1976, they were able to obtain more stable funding from the provincial government and from the City of Vancouver and opened a drop-in centre at 573 East Hastings. It was during this time that many of the current programs and services were developed. For over 30 years, he served as the Executive Director until his retirement in July 2004. After retirement from Tonari-Gumi, he has focused on playing his shakuhachi daily. He has a Canada Council CD project pending and continues to teach a handful of serious students. Throughout his life, he has educated and inspired many people all over Canada about the magic and beauty of the shakuhachi flute. Takeo was featured as part of the Verdant Stones Project at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. He has also performed at the Mariposa Folk Music Festival, the Powell Street Festival, Bumbershoot, Katari Taiko’s 15th Anniversary Concert at the Vancouver Playhouse and in concerts at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre. He has served as a judge for the 1994 and 1995 Juno awards, performed on two solo albums and created more than 10 film scores that include 6 National Film Board productions such as “Obaachan’s Garden.” Takeo's community work earned him a Minister of Foreign Affairs Award in 2003. His recordings include NYO (1998, Lotus Wind Records) and Takeo Yamashiro: Shakuhachi (1988, Aural Tradition).
In an interview he was asked what his hopes were for the Canadian Nikkei Community. His answer:  Today, we have the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre (in Burnaby, B.C.) where they are busy working on research and collections of historical artifacts and archival materials through the exhibits under their developmental projects. Their collections only get richer as they dig further into our preceding generations and their lives in Canada. Accordingly, it gets easier for our upcoming generations to access resources for our ancestral history of immigration and their lives through the building and development of the JC community. As our community in future will be changing in its racial makeup and cultural values, I feel personally an urgent need of re-examination/re-evaluation on our future community needs and set a direction as to where to and how we are going. It seems to be a big challenge but we really should be talking about a multilingual and multicultural community within the JC community after all—bravo! We all live as equal members in Canada’s cultural mosaic. Hopefully, this is when one may want to seek his/her identity with their conscious effort by going through to their ancestral roots. It will add much deeper and meaningful respect and confidence to his/her own dignity as a person. It may also give one an opportunity to appreciate their cultural heritage which they can then pass on to future generations.

We extend our deepest appreciation to all of the award recipients for their contributions and commitment to the Nikkei Community. Please check out posts on our other awardees Dr. Akira HoriiYoko Matsuno, and John Endo Greenaway!