Chuck Tasaka

Chuck Tasaka is the grandson of Isaburo and Yorie Tasaka. Chuck’s father was 4th in a family of 19. Chuck was born in Midway, B.C., and grew up in Greenwood, B.C. until he graduated from high school. Chuck attended University of B.C. and graduated in 1968. After retirement in 2002, he became interested in Nikkei history. (Profile photo courtesy of Nelson photographer)

Updated October 2015

culture en

Nisei Saves! Mottainai

I read on the Discover Nikkei website about a Japanese American granddaughter having to clear out her Nisei grandmother’s house when she passed away. To her shock, she found stacks of plastic tofu containers that grandma “treasured” all her life! I’m sure Canadian Nisei grandparents are the same. However, don’t put the blame on them. It’s the mottainai (being wasteful) spirit. It probably all started when the first wave of Japanese immigrants came to Canada in the early 1900s, and had to start their lives all over again. The families had very little mone…

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Nisei: Internment Camp Life

Greenwood was the first “internment centre” and Tashme was the last. In-between, there were Lemon Creek, Popoff, Bay Farm, New Denver, Rosebery, Sandon, and Kaslo. Self-supporting camps were East Lillooet, Minto Mine, Bridge River, and McGillivray Falls. Other self-supporting camps like Taylor Lake, Tappen, Blind Bay, Christina Lake, and Grand Forks had much smaller settlements. These were the internment camps in B.C. in 1942–43. It must have been a shock to go from a bustling city to towns and villages that were slowly becoming ghosts towns. The hastily-built shacks on f…

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Nikkei Chronicles #5—Nikkei-go: The Language of Family, Community, and Culture

You-mo? Me mo!: Nisei Language and Dialect

I don’t have a PhD in linguistics but I hope that a budding linguist major will get interested in this topic. In Hawaii, the first boat load of about 150 Japanese immigrants came to this island as sugar cane laborers in 1868. It was called Gannen-mono, first-year people. However, it proved to be an unsuccessful venture. They were city dwellers, not really farm workers. Nearly one third of gannen-mono immediately returned to Japan because of their work conditions. In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act came into effect once the US took hold of Hawaii. Therefore, a considerable work force was…

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Love, Nisei Style

Dion and the Belmonts made the doo wop song famous with “Teenagers in Love.” We could call this segment “Nisei-gers in Love.” Was this the clash of the old world Issei tradition versus the new world Canadian way? When the first Japanese immigrants came to British Columbia in the late 1800s, most were single men involved in menial occupations. They worked for very low pay and basically had no hopes for promotion. In their spare time they drank and gambled away their savings. Japanese men went to Chinatown to play mah jong. The lottery ticket game that looked similar to…

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community en

The Nisei Hepcats

“The day the music died,” from the song “American Pie” by Don McLean, referred to February 3, 1959, the day Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper perished in the ill-fated plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa. Those who were teenagers back then remembered ever so clearly when they heard the tragic news. You know exactly where you were and what you were doing. Music does that. Remember that song on the phonograph for the home waltz at the school dance? You don’t forget who you were dancing with, and how you had such a mad crush on that person! Music conjures u…

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