Canadian Nikkei Artist

Canadian Nikkei Artist series will focus on those in the Japanese Canadian community who are actively involved in the ongoing evolution: the artists, musicians, writers/poets and, broadly speaking, anybody else in the arts who grapples with their sense of identity. As such, the series will introduce Discover Nikkei readers to a wide range of ‘voices’, both established and emerging, that have something to say about their identity. This series aims to stir this cultural pot of Nikkeiness and, ultimately, build meaningful connections with Nikkei everywhere.

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David Hayashida on his first visit to BC, euphemisms and life on "The Rock" - Part 1

I caught up with Newfoundland artist David Hayashida on his return home after returning from the BC Internment Camp tour in July.

Like me, he grew up in Ontario far removed from most Japanese Canadians. We were often the only Asians in our schools. And as inheritors of the internment and the Redress legacy, we have spent much of our adult lives figuring out how to become valued members of our mostly-white communities where we grew up clinging on to whatever vestiges of our Japanese ancestry that we could.

As an eastern born and raised JC in Toronto, confronting the …


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Marjene Matsunaga Turnbull: Baking Japanese Canadianness

Read the interview with Marjene Matsunaga Turnbull by Norm Ibuki >>

After learning what the Japanese Canadian (JC) history was, I could describe events. Using layers to build upon, it became like a cake. And making a recipe for it was perfect for doing the family history within the general JC history, I thought. Each layer was done separately, glazed, and fired. Layers were glued together.

Recipe for The Hisaoka History Cake: “Continuum”

Preparation Time: 90 years
Use three nesting bake pans and make each layer, a generation at a time.
Yield: There is a piece for each and additional …


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Marjene Matsunaga Turnbull: How-to-Bake a Japanese Canadian Cake

Here’s an intriguing idea about how to think about your Japanese Canadian identity: What if it were a cake recipe what would go into it and how would you construct or, perhaps, more aptly, deconstruct, it?

De/constructing my own Japanese Canadian identity over the years, I’ve learned that the foundation of the Japanese part of my cultural shaping would include the food, my awkward way of interacting with others (especially in Japanese), Buddhism, aikido, how history has twisted and bent my identity, the novels of Yukio Mishima, Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, Kenzaburo Oe, and writer Naoya Shiga’s A Dark Night’s Passage in …


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A journey of becoming ... with Toronto’s Lillian Michiko Blakey - Part 2

The continuation of Lillian Michiko Blakey's story.

Read Part One >>

Right after the craft show, I got busy with my first real art piece. I am still mystified as to why I chose to create a nonrepresentational piece of art. “White Night” was an abstract landscape completely created in varying tones of point fabric. Upon reflection today, I find myself thinking this is an odd way of representing night. The other strange thing is that abstract expressionism of the 60s have never been of intrinsic interest to me. As I grow older, I search for meaning increasingly in the world …


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A journey of becoming ... with Toronto’s Lillian Michiko Blakey - Part 1

Dear Reader:

When did you decide to become “Japanese Canadian” and did that choice come at a cost?

For me, it was when I realized that despite being immersed in a white community, I was not a full member and that my position in it was always qualified and defined by a persistent ‘otherness,’ that stereotype that even my most well intentioned friends can’t seem to see beyond. It’s always the same asinine comments about Japanese culture, baseball, or sushi. This Japanese Canadian (JC) stuff is about being pushed to the edges. White western fetishism with “Japan” has always gotten …



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