Nikkei National Museum + Cultural Center – Vancouver
Konichiwa!!! Nikkei Center is Vancouver’s largest Japanese Canadian Cultural Center + museum!
I meant to do this post A LOOONG time ago – these pictures are from November while Jeff’s dad Brian was visiting the west coast – which is the best coast! Oh snap!!!! Just kidding east coasters, don’t get all excited on me!
The Nikkei National Museum + Cultural Center (or Nikkei Place) is located in Burnaby, British Columbia – a city directly east of Vancouver. I still consider Burnaby part of Vancouver. It’s that close. The structure was built in 2000 + it is a gorgeous structure, is it not?
Ah, yes. The crane. “Tsuru” in Japanese. A symbol of good fortune + longevity! My maternal grandmother’s name was Tsuru + the town my mother is from in Japan is called Tsurugashima – “Island of Cranes”. Hai!!!!
The center’s museum is located next to the front desk. It is tiny, but always packed full of information, history, stories + is well displayed! The current exhibition is Ryoshi – Nikkei Fisherman of the BC Coast. This exhibit will be up until May 19th, 2013 – so go check it out!
Many Japanese Canadians + Japanese Americans have strong ties to the ocean + worked hard to make a living in their new country through fishing + the fishing industry. There was much persecution + racism towards the Japanese prior to the war + after the return from the internment camps. In the 1920s, the federal government tried to exclude Japanese Canadians from their traditional livelihood of fishing by limiting the number of their fishing licenses. Because of this, the community grew stronger + more tight knit. They formed co-operative associations to market their produce and fish, and community and cultural associations for self-help and social events.
Japanese Canadian women also played a large role in the fishing industry. Many of them worked long hours in the canneries. My paternal grandmother worked in a cannery on Terminal Island in Long Beach, California. It was a dangerous + thankless job.
I am obsessed with Japanese Canadian/American folk art that was created with whatever was available. These sweet decorative umbrellas were made with BC Packers cannery labels that were left after the season was over.
The Nikkei Center also has a variety of cultural activities + classes available. There are sushi classes, kimono dressing, Japanese calligraphy + folk dancing. There was a folk dancing class in session during our visit. Check out their website for the schedule of these great cultural events.
I’ve also attended a kimono fashion show at the center + a New Year’s mochitsuki making celebration! Please stop by the Nikkei National Museum + Cultural Center + support an amazing institution that promotes + educates the community on Japanese Canadian history, tradition + culture!!!! I’m so grateful to have such a fantastic resource in Vancouver!!!