John Endo Greenaway: Japanese Canadian History Preservation & Education Award Recipient

Every year at Nikkei Place’s Community Awards + Fundraising Dinner we honour people and/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 John Endo Greenaway:

  • Japanese Canadian History Preservation & Education Awardee

    Japanese Canadian History Preservation & Education Awardee

    Freelance Graphic Designer and Owner of Big Wave Design

  • Founding member of Canada’s first taiko group, Katari Taiko
  • Founding member of Canada’s first professional taiko group, Uzume Taiko, with whom he toured extensively across Europe and North America.
  • Spent five years as assistant instructor with Chibi Taiko, Canada’s first youth taiko group.
  • Since 1993, he has been the Managing Editor of The Bulletin, a journal of
    Japanese Canadian community, history and culture.

John Endo Greenaway lived in the downtown east side for over 30 years (His parents co-founded Strathcona’s first housing co-op at Union St. and were involved in the 1970’s fight to stop the freeway).

Now based in Port Moody, BC, in an interview he stated that:

“When my family moved to Vancouver when I was 10 we ended up in Strathcona in what may have been Vancouver’s first housing co-op on Union Street. That was where my mother — a second generation Japanese-Canadian — started to reconnect with her roots, which she had really lost contact with, and also how I became involved in helping to form Canada’s first Taiko group Katari Taiko, work on the Powell Street Festival and more. Amazingly, the Strathcona Community Centre used to let us use its space to practise three times a week for a number of years until they realized that nobody else could do anything else when we rehearsing because of the volume. ”

He co-founded both Uzume Taiko and Katari Taiko (whose founding helped marked the re-emergence of the Japanese Canadian community who had been scattered about the country after World War II). He worked on a collaborative project “AGAINST THE CURRENT” that looked at the important role played by salmon in both Salish and Japanese history and tradition. The collaboration between Chibi Taiko, Katari Taiko, Sansho Daiko, Sawagi Taiko and Vancouver Okinawa Taiko also included storyteller Rosemary Georgeson (Sahtu Dene/Coast Salish) and Salish musicians Tzo’kam, led by composer Russell Wallace with narrations by Greenaway, and Hiromi Goto and Savannah Walling with participation of 25 DTES community members in creating the sets.

The Bulletin CoverJohn has worked in the print production, design and world music field. Following his departure from Uzume Taiko in 2000, he has concentrated on his freelance design and editing business full time, working primarily in the Japanese Canadian and arts communities. His freelance clients include Hard Rubber Orchestra, Kodo, Lola MacLaughlin Dance, Takeo Yamashiro, Caravan World Rhythms, Gary Cristall Artist Management, JLS Productions, the National Nikkei Museum and Cultural Centre, the Japanese Canadian National Museum, Vancouver New Music Society, Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, Ashe Brasil, Vancouver Moving Theatre, Diane Kadota Arts Management, and the Japanese Canadian Citizen’s Association.

John has received a number of awards such as:

  • 2007 North American Association of Asian Professionals Vancouver (NAAAP) award (Arts
    and Culture)
  • 2013 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
  • He was honoured by the National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) at the Spotlight on Leadership Celebration held in Vancouver on October 25, 2007. The NAAAP is a nonprofit organization that promotes the career advancement and leadership development of Asian American professionals in all fields through networking, respecting Asian multiculturalism, and supporting diversity and community service.

    Below is a shortened excerpt of his acceptance speech:

“It is somewhat fitting, I suppose, or perhaps ironic—I’m not sure which—to receive the Unsung Asian Hero Award tonight. As editor of The Bulletin, the monthly publication of the Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association I have spent the past 14 years covering many unsung heroes within the Nikkei community. We have our public heroes of course, the ones we share with the rest of the world – the David Suzukis, Raymond Moriyamas, Joy Kogawas and Thomas Shoyamas – but for every man and woman in the spotlight, there are dozens more toiling away unheralded and most likely underappreciated. They are educators, artists, business owners, fishermen, community activists, cooks, students. Some are imbedded deeply within the Nikkei community, others work within the larger community. Some identify strongly as Nikkei, others would consider themselves simply Canadian. As the latest in a long line of editors dating back to 1958 (the year before I was 8 born), I have made it my mission to profile the many quiet heroes in our midst. It is sometimes like pulling teeth—if you want to talk in stereotypes, then we Nikkei tend to be a rather shy lot—but with a little coaxing, most people will open up, often in surprising ways. A CBC producer asked me the other day how our community magazine, with its relatively small circulation and limited readership can hope to bring these people greater national recognition and I replied that I don’t think that is necessarily my aim. It is, rather, to instill a sense of pride within our community, to build up, issue by issue, a sense of who we are—where we have come from, and where we are going.

As a community I think we are sometimes guilty of dwelling on the past. Indeed, it is difficult to discuss the Japanese Canadian experience without the subject of the wartime Internment coming up…” “It is easy sometimes to play the victim card. But if there is one thing I have learned in my time working in the Nikkei community, it is that we are not a community of victims, but rather survivors. And yes, thrivers. I believe it is important to keep our eyes firmly forward—not forgetting the past, but using it as a springboard to a bright future. As I get older I see more and more value in the Japanese phrase shikataganai, “it can’t be helped”. I used to interpret it as defeatism, but have come to see that it simply means that railing against what can’t be changed is a waste of time and energy. Acceptance doesn’t mean that you give up, far from it—rather, you move on and change what you can.”

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 HoriiTakeo Yamashiro, and Yoko Matsuno!

Iki Iki Program

Nikkei Seniors launches the Iki Iki (Lively, Lively!) dementia friendly program toolkit

Iki Iki Lively Lively! is a pioneer day program for seniors living with dementia, and for seniors requiring easier-paced activities. One of its unique features is the opportunity for other seniors and volunteers to take lead roles in program delivery.

Nikkei Seniors has created an Iki Iki (Lively, Lively!) program toolkit (available in English, Japanese, and French) that aims to help any community group, organization or individuals launch their own version of their Iki Iki (Lively, Lively!) dementia-friendly social day program.

Click here to find out more about their community programs or click the image below to find out more about their Iki Iki (Lively, Lively!) program toolkit.

Iki Iki Program Toolkit

Toyota Foundation + Nikkei Place Foundation

Toyota Canada Foundation Invests in Vancouver’s Future Leaders with $25,000 Donation to Nikkei Place Foundation

Volunteer Experience at NNMCC

A young volunteer gets some hands-on experience at the Nikkei Matsuri Family Festival in Burnaby, BC.  The Toyota Canada Foundation recently announced that it will support volunteerism and mentorship programs at Nikkei Place.


VANCOUVER, B.C. July 18, 2016 – The Toyota Canada Foundation is donating $25,000 to Vancouver’s Nikkei Place Foundation to support volunteering and mentorship programs for future leaders.

The donation will directly support Nikkei Place Foundation’s “Future Leaders – Volunteer and Mentorship Development” initiative by providing leaders of tomorrow with important tools and support through comprehensive volunteering and mentorship programming.

Committed to the growth of Canada’s future generations, the Toyota Canada Foundation is strongly focused on advancing educational initiatives. The donation builds upon this long-standing commitment through the Nikkei Place Foundation and its promise to educate, engage and develop future leaders in the community.

“The Toyota Canada Foundation is committed to partnering with like-minded future-focused organizations and investing in programs that educate and develop Canada’s next generations,” said Larry Hutchinson, President, Toyota Canada Foundation. “We’re proud to support the Nikkei Place Foundation with their efforts to foster the growth of future leaders.”

“Programs such as the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre’s Future Leaders initiative encompass the Nikkei Place Foundation’s commitment to community volunteerism and mentorship,” stated Robert Banno, President, Nikkei Place Foundation. “With the fantastic support of Toyota Canada Foundation, we are able to bring this leading edge initiative to reality.”


About the Toyota Canada Foundation

The Toyota Canada Foundation is a national not-for-profit, private charitable foundation, with a long-standing commitment to the Environment, Education and Safety. The Foundation supports charitable and non-profit organizations dedicated to good work in these areas.


About Nikkei Place Foundation

Nikkei Place Foundation is here to ensure that Nikkei Place is supported for future generations to learn, share and enjoy in all that Nikkei Place has to offer — Japanese Canadian history, cultural traditions and exchange, community interaction, and supportive services for all ages and backgrounds.

Monthly Giving Thank You

Our First Monthly Giving Mingle!

By Elina Wakabayashi, NPF Monthly Giving Co-Ordinator

On Saturday, April 11th, we held our first ever Nikkei Place Foundation Monthly Giving Club Appreciation Mingle! It was an exciting chance for us to reunite with some familiar faces in the community as well as happily welcome new faces to Nikkei Place. Monthly Giving is a different form of giving back to the community and is suitable for any age — thank you all for the support and heart for Nikkei Place! Continue reading

J-Fest at Nikkei Centre: A Cosplay + Fandom Celebration

J-FEST was at Nikkei Centre was on March 7!

It was a celebration of all things J-pop hosted by the Vancouver Anime Convention Society. J-Fest was a culmination of fandom for the love of favourite animes, mangas, games, and the like. I got to watch performers taiko drum, speak with local artists in the Artist Alley/Dealer Room, and of course, see a great number of local cosplayers. Simply put, it was a unique and fun filled experience!


In the spirit of the event, let’s talk about COSPLAY!


Cosplay is a performance art; it is about celebrating a love for a favourite anime/manga/game character or Japanese fashion aesthetic by emulating how they look and even behave.

The word itself originates from combining the terms “costume” x “play”. The word was coined by Nobuyaki Takahashi of Studio Hard while attending a World Science Fiction Convention held in Los Angeles in 1984. Those who do cosplay are called cosplayers – people who dress up in a costume or fashion style that represents a specific character from a game, comic book, cartoon, manga, anime or Japanese fashion aesthetic (such as Lolita, maid, or school girl). The concept of cosplaying has actually been growing as a hobby since 1990, becoming a unique and grown pop culture phenomenon in Japan and other countries, like in Vancouver!

Cosplay is often associated with “Otaku” culture – a word that describes a person with obsessive interests, commonly with anime and manga fandom. The Akihabara neighborhood of Tokyo is a popular gathering otaku site.

And if you thought cosplay only had to do with clothes and accessories, you are mistaken! Since 1998, there has been a number of cosplay restaurants popularized in Japan, catering to devoted anime and cosplay fans. Waitresses and/or waiters at such cafes dress up as video game or anime characters, or maids/butlers, in Tokyo’s Akihabara district in Japan. You can actually experience something akin to the real deal at anime conventions in Vancouver! J-Fest in fact had their own version of a “Bishounen Cafe”!

These café’s are more than just about food, they are about the entire environment from décor, to the behaviour of the servers and how they interact with customers. At a maid cafe, for example, don’t be surprised when the maid servers take your food order and call you “master”!

Kazuko’s health tips #12: Soothe the Eyes

和子の耳より小話(パート12): 『目を癒す 』

By: Kazuko Ikegawa

Spring is making its way here. In oriental medicine, it is said that spring is the season where the liver starts to function in full. In light of this, here is some Yoga wisdom related to the liver to soothe the eyes. Use this technique any time the eyes are tired, such as after staring at a computer screen or driving!


Use those eye muscles! • 目の筋肉を使おう!

YOGA pose-011 | Sit in a comfortable position on a chair or floor, straighten the arm, stick your thumb in the air and raise it to eye level. Focus your eyes on the base of the thumb nail.

2 | Move the thumb you are focusing on ever so slowly toward the nose. If it does not come into focus, stop, slowly extend the arm back out as far as it goes and start over. When the eyes focus, you’re exercising their muscles.

3 | After finishing, rub the hands together until warm and cover the eyes to soothe them. Keep them there for a short while, imagining the energy from your palms reaching out and relaxing the eyes
終わった後は手のひらをこすり合わせ て、温かくなった手のひらを目の上にかぶせて、目を癒します。手のひらのエネルギーが目の奥に届いて目を癒すイメージをしながらしばらく手を当てます。 (この目を癒す手あては、パソコンで疲れたときや、運転で目が疲れたときなど、いつでも行っていただいて結構です!

Kazuko - Yoga InstructorKazuko’s Yoga offers easy yoga for all, including seniors and beginners

ナマステ   Namaste

Please contact Kazuko at for more information on yoga classes.

Melt-in-your-mouth sashimi

Octopus’ Garden:

Creating a Disneyland-like Restaurant for All Ages and Nationalities

Reviewed By Junko Mayede, Nikkei Life Editor

Photo 2015-03-06, 5 59 42 PM

This month I am reviewing Octopus’ Garden, a restaurant celebrating its 23rd anniversary this September.

On the day I visited with my co-worker, I noticed that despite the restaurant being packed to the gills, owner and chef Sada-san always seemed to be having a great time chatting with the customers, with a cheery smile on his face.

Chef Sada provided us with a unique tasting menu to enjoy! We first tasted a smoked salmon and tomato salad, reveling in the savory aroma of the fish. Next was the restaurant’s specialty, ‘Sada’s Own’ Nomu Uni Shooter – a unique way of tasting fresh sea urchin. Then came 3 kinds of extremely fresh sashimi. This dish was actually presented in a way he thought customers would enjoy it most. The toro (salmon belly) nigiri we tasted just melted in our mouths. He presented it on the counter as if we had suddenly been transported to a kaiten-zushi restaurant (where sushi comes out on a conveyor belt)!

I saw with my own eyes Sada-san’s desire for customers to have a wonderful time, as he paid close attention to his customers and the food he served them. Watching Sada’s care and charisma, I felt so appreciative of my meal. I spoke with Sada-san, and he told me that he originally wanted to be a hairstylist or cook because he has always been good with his hands. At age 18, he had the chance to learn Asian fusion cuisine in Japan and became a chef – a useful experience that he got to learn.

Q  |  Where does your inspiration for the menu come from?

A.  In this multicultural country, I’m not too particular about traditions, thining about what kinds of tastes our customers grew up with at home. I take time to come up with the menu and the way the food is served, as well as make an extra effort to create dishes that are difficult to prepare at home so customers truly enjoy dining at my restaurant.

When I asked what his goal for the future was, Sada-san replied, “First is to maintain my health, and then, with a smile, to spend the rest of my life nurturing a Disneyland-like restaurant full of dreams… Why not?” 

Sada remarks, I’m so glad I have mastered so many techniques! Depending on the customer, I like to change the presentation of the food to try and maximize a customer’s experience.

 Restaurant_Octopus' Garden_Mr. Sada


今回は、今年9月で23年目を迎えるOctopus’ Gardenを是非紹介したい。


私たちは、まず、スモークの香りを存分に楽しめるスモークサーモンとトマトのサラダを戴いた。 続いて、新鮮なウニをユニークにアレンジしたレストラン名物のウニ・シューターや、私たちをイメージして盛り付けて戴いた、とても新鮮な刺身三品盛り!! 次には、口の中でとろけてしまうサーモンのトロのにぎりを、カウンターで特製回転寿司のように出していただくなど、食事を楽しみながら美味しく戴いた。


Q  |   メニューのインスピレーションは、どこから来ていますか?

A.  マルチ・カルチャーであるこの国で、伝統などにこだわりすぎず、来ていただくお客様が、どんな家庭の味で育ってこられたかをイメージし、メニューや料理の出し方など考える事でしょうか。 その上、家でなかなか作れないような食事をこの店で楽しんでいただけるように努力しています!!


そして最後に「色々と学んでおいて、本当に良かったです‼   お客さんによって、同じ料理でも器を変えたり、料理の出しかたを変えたりもしますよ。」と語っていただいたことをしっかり体験させていただいた夜を過ごした。

Octopus’ Garden
1995Cornwall Ave • Vancouver, BC  |   (604)734-8971  |


A Spring Festival

O-Higan — March 21 was the first day of the Spring O-Higan, a 7-day festival to honour the spirits of our Japanese ancestors, and the time to give offerings. It is a holiday that is celebrated by nearly every Buddhist sect, with many special services usually observed in temples, both in Japan and abroad.

お彼岸(ひがん)は、雑節の1つで、春分・秋分の年2回行います。 春分(今年は、3月21日)・秋分(今年は、9月23日)を中日とし、前後各3日をあわせた、7日間が、お彼岸の日となっていて、仏壇や仏具の掃除、お墓参りをしてお墓の掃除やお供えをするのが、一般的!


We create a different manga for Nikkei Life every month! To check out some of the previous mangas, check out our Facebook! #MANGAMONTHLY

Special Culinary Offerings from Chef Tojo!!

Nikkei Place Foundations presents the Sakura Benefit Event. This is indeed a rare opportunity to experience the performance of Japanese recording star Kohmi Hirose, in an intimate concert setting. She will be accompanied by Conductor sensation Ken Hsieh of the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra, along with a 23-piece orchestra. Enjoy this unique performance of J-pop adapatations while dining on a special dinner set prepared by Vancouver’s own Chef Hidekazu Tojo of Tojo’s Restaurant.
For Ticket Inquiry: 
Nikkei Place Foundation
Tel: (604)-777-2122 or e-mail
チケットのお問い合わせ:日系プレース基金(604)777-2122 または、gifts@nikkeiplace.orgまで。

Introducing: Hidekazu Tojo of Tojo’s Restaurant. 

Born in 1950 in Kagoshima. In 1968, Hidekazu Tojo became a chef at a high-end Japanese restaurant in Osaka, and in 1971, went on to build his own sushi restaurant in Osaka. Soon after, he left for Vancouver and worked as a chef for several restaurants, such as Maneki, Jinya, and Soft Rock Café.

In 1988, with the concept of “relief, trust, and originality” in mind, he finally opened his own restaurant and named it “Tojo’s Restaurant”. In 2007, the restaurant moved down the street from its original location, where about 600 people including customers and media came to its re-opening.

Chef Tojo has created many new menu items that are well known today, such as the “California Roll” —named not for the place, but for the avocado— and the “BC Roll”. There is an interesting story behind the creation of the BC Roll:

The BC Roll was born in Vancouver in 1974, when eel was a difficult ingredient to obtain. As a response to this difficulty, Tojo used trial and error, and found that salmon skin was a great substitute for eel. Thus, the BC Roll came to be. Even today, this particular roll is very familiar in Vancouver and loved and enjoyed by many people.

Since 1988, Tojo’s Restaurant has never missed being ranked or labelled the “number 1 Japanese Restaurant”, as well as being rated “Extraordinary” by Zagat.

On top of that, Tojo’s Restaurant has also been quoted as:

“At the centre of it all is the beaming and energetic Tojo, who performs his magic with the precision of a surgeon and the faitest Vegas swagger.” 
— #1 New York Times bestsellers “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” author, Patricia Schultz

“Tojo’s, a Japanese Restaurant where dining is grander and more enticing than a geisha’s dance”
— The Washington Post

And not to mention, other newspaper magazines too.

When Chef Tojo was featured in 2010 on a Japanese TV program called “Sekai wo Kaeru 100 Nin No Nihon Jin ~Japan All Stars~ — The 100 Japanese people who will change the world (Japan All Stars)”, it was clear that Chef Tojo puts a lot of effort and hard work into making people understand how providing fresh food to customers is the most delicious.

Don’t miss out on the Sakura Benefit Event where Chef Tojo will be preparing a special dinner set as a backdrop to the performance of J-pop recording star Kohmi Hirose, accompanied by Conductor sensation Ken Hsieh and a 23-piece orchestra!!


This April, See Top Rising Conductor Sensation Ken Hsieh!!!

Nikkei Place Foundations presents the Sakura Benefit Event. This is indeed a rare opportunity to experience the performance of Japanese recording star Kohmi Hirose, in an intimate concert setting. She will be accompanied by Conductor sensation Ken Hsieh of the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra, along with a 23-piece orchestra. Enjoy this unique performance of J-pop adapatations while dining on a special dinner set prepared by Vancouver’s own Chef Hidekazu Tojo of Tojo’s Restaurant.
For Ticket Inquiry: 
Nikkei Place Foundation
Tel: (604)-777-2122 or e-mail
チケットのお問い合わせ:日系プレース基金(604)777-2122 または、gifts@nikkeiplace.orgまで。

Introducing: Ken Hsieh. Popular conductor in Vancouver amongst young audiences and leader of the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra. 

Born in Edmonton in 1980, Ken started learning piano at the age of 6 for the Royal Conservatory of Music, and by age 12, learned percussion instruments. He went on to study at the University of British Columbia (UBC), majoring in both piano and percussion, and later studied orchestral conducting for his post-graduate studies in Japan at Toho Gakuen School of Music and Senzoku Gakuen College Music Academy.

For 3 years (2004-2007) Ken served as a Residence Conductor/Assistant Conductor, and is now the music director and principal conductor of the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra (VMO). The orchestra he leads consists of young artists that aspire to become professional musicians in the future. With passion and encouragement, Ken provides these young artists the opportunity to perform in the same setting as a professional orchestra.

In 2005, Mr. Hsieh won the Heinz Unger Award in conducting and in 2006, the Jean-Marie Beaudet Award in Orchestral Conducting. To top things off, he also won the Medal of Merit Award from the Lions Club International for Outstanding Young Leadership.

Ken has collaborated with orchestras in Japan such as New Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa, Hyogo Performing Arts Center Orchestra, Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra, Gunma Symphony Orchestra, Osaka Century Orchestra (now known as Japan Century Orchestra), Kyoto Symphony Orchestra, and others. He has also been a guest conductor with the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, France Lamoureux Orchestra, Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, as well as worked alongside many other orchestras in Asia, Europe, and in North America. This summer, Ken will be performing at Kyushu Symphony Orchestra.

At the Sakura Benefit Event, Ken will be collaborating with the multi-talented singer, songwriter, composer, lyricist, and music producer, Kohmi Hirose aka “Winter Queen”.  The night will also include an amazing dinner provided by Tojo’s Restaurant’s very own Chef Tojo!

Don’t miss your chance to enjoy Ken Hsieh’s performance on this spectacular night in Vancouver at the Sakura Benefit Event!!

Stay tuned, as we will introduce more details about Vancouver’s own Hidekazu Tojo of Tojo’s Restaurant, who will prepare a special dinner set at the event. Don’t miss out!