Canadian Nikkei Series

The inspiration for this new Canadian Nikkei interview series is the observance that the gulf between the pre-WW2 Japanese Canadian community and the Shin Ijusha one (post-WW2) has grown tremendously. 

Being “Nikkei” no longer means that one is only of Japanese descent anymore. It is far more likely that Nikkei today are of mixed cultural heritage with names like O’Mara or Hope, can’t speak Japanese and have varying degrees of knowledge about Japan.

It is therefore the aim of this series to pose ideas, challenge some and to engage with other like-minded Discover Nikkei followers in a meaningful discussion that will help us to better understand ourselves.

Canadian Nikkei will introduce you to many Nikkei who I have had the good fortune to come into contact with over the past 20 years here and in Japan. 

Having a common identity is what united the Issei, the first Japanese to arrive in Canada, more than 100 years ago. Even in 2014, it is the remnants of that noble community that is what still binds our community today.

Ultimately, it is the goal of this series to begin a larger online conversation that will help to inform the larger global community about who we are in 2014 and where we might be heading to in the future.

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Tak Matsuba’s Odyssey from Vancouver to Osaka - Part 2

Rear Part 1 >>

Can you give me a rough chronology of your career path?

I stayed briefly in Mio (about one month) and went to Tokyo and got a job with the U.S. Occupation Forces at Haneda Air Base. The job came with housing (barracks type) and we could eat at the G.I. Mess Hall, so it was very comfortable. The housing was not good. The heating was poor and there was no hot water, but at that time, I still felt fortunate with what I got.

I worked for the Occupation Forces for about four years and was …


migration en

Tak Matsuba’s Odyssey from Vancouver to Osaka - Part 1

“In the 1945-1946 school year, Miss Haruko Ito taught us grade 7, but she left us before the end of the term. Tak Matsuba became our new teacher and continued on until June 1946. (We were exiled to Japan the same year!) He taught us to do our best in good faith and to complete our given tasks willingly. I remember him as a pleasant, fair person who was highly respected.”

- Nisei Susan Maikawa recalling school life in Lemon Creek internment camp

When I first went to Japan to teach English in 1995, Lloyd Kumagai, a Canadian Nisei, …


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Hamilton Artist Bryce Kanbara

After Bryce’s dad, Tameo Kanbara, was released from the prisoner of war camp in 1946, there were only two choices: move east of the Rocky Mountains or to war-torn Japan.

To be sure, the government’s plan was to make sure that Japanese Canadians were dispersed across Canada so as to protect them from whatever imagined threat we represented. Every means possible was used to make sure that a post-war community like there had been in Vancouver never formed again anywhere in Canada.

At the end of WW2, there was absolutely no reason why JCs should have believed anything that the …


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Lorne Spry On Being a Blue-eyed Canadian Living in Sendai, Japan

The intent of this series to look a little more closely at the Nikkei community from a cultural perspective that is not often heard from in the larger dialogue.

I’ve written about the community for two decades now and, honestly, I am still not sure what makes it tick. There are a lot of arm chair theories about the disconnect between the generations, cultural gaps between Shin Ijusha and the pre-WW2 community, etc., etc.

Being a Sansei who grew up in suburban Toronto, I’ve lived and worked in Japan for nine years, this informs my “Nikkeiness” in unique and significant …



Angler POW camp artist Bryce Kanbara camps Canada Canadian Artists Canadian Nikkei Series hakujin hamilton incarceration Internment camp teachers Japan Japanese Canadian Lemon Creek Lorne Spry migration Mio, Wakayama immigrants to Canada nikkei Nisei Mass Evacuation Group occupation occupation Forces Osaka Nisei repatriation resisters reunion