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

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: jcnm@nikkeiplace.org | 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: http://www.surrey.ca/culture-recreation/11469.aspx  **The participation of these Artists are arranged by permission of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association. city-of-surreys-heritage-re-enactment-program

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 jcnm@nikkeiplace.org 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 jcnm@nikkeiplace.org

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"!


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

POP! Japan


Nowhere in the world is pop culture more prevalent, eclectic & unique than in Japan


Entertainment. Anime. Manga. Cosplay. Fashion.. and much more!

From the fashion trends of Harajuku and Shibuya, to the kawaii (cute) culture of “deco den”, to the exciting stories of manga and anime, we can’t seem to get enough of Japanese aesthetics and trends here in North America, and we can't wait to share lots of exciting articles about them with you in POP! Japan!! 現代のニッポンのポップカルチャーといえば、アニメ、マンガ、コスプレ、ファッション、KAWAII・・・など、色々な物が融合されたユニークさがあり、なかなか他の国では、お目にかかれない奇抜なものもある。 そんな数限りない日本の美学やトレンドをいろいろな面からポップカルチャーとして日系ライフの中で徐々に紹介をしていこうと思っている。

Let's start off with an introduction shall we?

Japanese pop culture has captured global attention and has made its way into the cultural consciousness of countries throughout the world. Whether we've been fully aware of it or not, Japan’s cultural exports have slowly woven their way into our own cultural landscape here in North America. Kid's and adults alike go nuts over things like Hello Kitty, Tamagotchi, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, and Pokemon (to but a few!) -- and that's just the start. It is not hard to find people that recognize the famous Japanese director/animator Hayao Miyazaki or his many Studio Ghibli films such as Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. Thanks to companies like Sanrio, Panasonic, Nintendo, and Sony, characters and stories from anime (a distinctive Japanese-style of animation) and manga (Japanese-style comics) have become widely popularized, bringing them to life in everything from toys, games, books, and movies to fashion and even household appliances -- who doesn't want a Hello Kitty toaster?

My Neighbor Totoro



Sailor Moon


Many fans show their love for their favourite anime, manga, or game characters by cosplaying

("cosplay" is short for “costume play”) – that is to say, they emulate these characters by dressing up as them, and even sometimes act like them too! It is also popular to see people cosplay in styles that are unique only to Japanese fashion trends -- such as dressing up in the "Lolita" style. It's worthy to note that there are a huge amount of fashion trends in Japan (that will be covered in a future post!), which often have their own sub-styles. For instance, the "Lolita" style is inspired by the Victorian era, which usually means loads of lace and frill, skirts with petticoats and parasols. However, there are "Gothic Lolitas", which usually involves a lot of black (think punk-rock) or "Sweet Lolitas", which is a more girly/innocent type of look that usually involves pinks and other pastel colours. Whatever cosplayers decide to wear, it is clear that is becoming more and more popular, evident by the thousands that attend and cosplay at anime conventions like Anime Revolution (Vancouver) and the LA Anime Expo. Here are some incredible cosplay examples of Sailor Moon, Link & Zelda:

Lolita Fashion

Let's not forget -- Kawaii (cute) culture is pretty much everywhere in Japan too!

We see this in crafting phenomenons like Decoden (short for "Decoration Denwa" -- "Denwa" meaning "Mobile Phone"), which involves decorating phone cases (and pretty much anything else nowadays!) in fits of glitter, pearls, jewels, and cute charms, and Amigurumi, the knitting or crocheting of small stuffed animals or other cute creatures.   Even anime and manga characters come in cuter chibi-style versions! From this... To this!

That's all for now! More POP! Japan posts coming soon!

We want to hear from you! -- What are some of your favourite aspects of Japanese Pop Culture you would like us to feature? Facebook or Email us!
あなたが気に入っている日本のポップカルチャーで、特集を組んでもらいたい事など、どしどしとご意見をFacebookまたは、Emailにご連絡ください。 お待ちいたしております!

Fostering the Foundations of Culture – Hapa Style

Justin and Lea Ault, owners of Hapa Izakaya, spent an afternoon talking to John Greenaway, Editor of The Bulletin, about the challenges of balancing life and work and the joys and challenges of raising two young daughters, Hana and Mio, while expanding their business to three restaurants to include Robson Street, Kitsilano and Yaletown. (full version of this article available in September 2010 Bulletin). Is it a challenge, having kids in Japanese pre-school, given that you don’t speak Japanese at home? (Lea) We use Japanese sitters to bolster the Japanese language thing. We’ve been lucky about finding people who speak Japanese and are great with the kids…otherwise they’d be at a real disadvantage…We try to do this at least four days a week…I only had English, English, English through my childhood, and for me, acquiring a second language is impossible. I have a lot of Japanese vocabulary, and I’ve got a certain amount of French vocabulary too. I can speak more French than I can Japanese, but it’s still something that’s a real struggle for me and I really wanted them to have that advantage. Do you think having kids has changed your view of community and what it means to be Japanese Canadian, what it means to be part of the community? (Justin) My mom sent an e-mail about two weeks ago saying it’s been 17 years since Nana, her mother, passed away. I hadn’t thought about that at all, but I wrote to her and I said it would have been really nice if she had lived—she’d be 95—and for her to see her granddaughters and great-granddaughters, and to have a conversation in Japanese with them that her own daughter couldn’t have with her. It’s like honouring your grandparents and great-grandparents, and the struggles they went through in some small way, whether it’s being involved in the Nikkei Centre or the language . . . (Lea) Justin and I foster our interest in our culture and heritage in each other. I think it brings me closer to my mother and grandmother and with the children involved in Japanese school and language, it’s a real multi-generational thing now. Justin, you recently joined the board of the National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre. I was wondering if that was sort of an inevitable move for you, if you feel some responsibility towards the community (Justin) So far it’s been interesting and fun…You’ve got some people in that room who have been involved in the community for 30, 40 years—guys who were presidents of companies—and then normal guys like me. So you don’t want to say a lot at first, you just kind of watch what’s going on and then slowly start feeling confident about giving your views and opinions. I guess that’s one of the reasons they want someone like me there, a guy who’s almost 40 and has a different view.
This dynamic couple have made quite an impact and have become local celebrities given the success of ‘Hapa” and we are fortunate to have young leaders like them who share such a strong vision of cultural development and community leadership as members of the Nikkei community. Programs and activities offered at Nikkei Place provide opportunities for Japanese language development at Gladstone Language School, education on Japanese Canadian history and Japanese cultural learning opportunities at the Japanese Canadian National Museum, Seniors programs at Nikkei Home and New Sakura-so, Martial Arts at NNMHC, and many more. For anyone with an interest in Japanese Canadian and Japanese culture, Nikkei Place was built with you in mind. In the spirit of building strong and vibrant community at Nikkei Place, we encourage you to come join us for the next 10 years of exciting community building through volunteerism, programming, or as a donor. Please contact Josh Coward at Nikkei Place Foundation at 604.777.2122 for more information. Thank you.