plant2 Documenting the west coast Nikkei experience [and beyond] from the viewpoint of a hapa Nikkei graphic designer, editor, photographer, taiko player & teacher.


A Canadian Nikkei in New Denver

Nikkei INternment Memorial Centre, New Denver, BC

Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre, New Denver, BC

Talk about culture shock. Several weeks after returning from Japan, Amy, the girls and I jumped into our new Mazda5 (with roof rack and carrier added at the last second to accommodate all the gear the four of us need when “roughing it”) and headed for the Kootenays to visit my mum and sister (et al) and do some long-overdue camping. I had driven out to Nelson a number of times over the past year when my father was in the processing of dying but this was the first time in some years that the whole family had made the trek east along Highway 3.

Inevitably, the road trip turned into a mini-history lesson for Emiko and Kaya as they are finally at an age (15 & 13 respectively) where they can conceptualize history and their relationship to it. In Japan they got a taste of their Japanese roots (more about that next month) but on this trip they were able to experience a different part of their heritage as we followed the dispersal route that Japanese Canadians took on their exodus from the coast.

Continue reading A Canadian Nikkei in New Denver

Honouring Our People: sansei perspectives

Greg&DerekA conference, Honouring Our People: Stories of the Internment, takes place this weekend (September 25-27) at the Nikkei Centre in Burnaby. The following two pieces were printed in the September Bulletin and I thought I’d run them here in advance of the conference.

Greg Miyanaga

When I think of the internment and relocation, I have mixed feelings.

My grandparents on my father’s side were relocated from Mission, BC, to the sugar beet fields of Taber, Alberta. My family did not talk about what happened to them, and it was much later that I found out what they went through. I was angry that my grandparents and so many others had to endure such hatred, loss, and injustice.

Now, I have slightly different feelings. When I think of Japanese Canadians who went through internment and relocation, I don’t just think of them as victims, I think of them as survivors, as heroes. I am so proud of my grandparents and all the Japanese Canadians who were interned and relocated. For them to come through the war years, and the ensuing aftermath, is a triumph of the human spirit.

Continue reading Honouring Our People: sansei perspectives

Katari Taiko 30th Anniversay Concert

Rekishi (Histories)
30 Years of Katari Taiko
Sunday, November 1, 2009, 2pm
The Cultch, 1895 Venables Street

$20 (general) / $15 (students & seniors) / $10 (12yrs & under) + service charges
For tickets call The Cultch box office at 604.251.1363 •
For info call 604.683.8240

shi-shi-maiKatari Taiko celebrates its 30th Anniversary with an afternoon concert in the newly renovated Historic Theatre at The Cultch, featuring the 10-member ensemble with guest alumni John Endo Greenaway, Linda Uyehara Hoffman, Shinobu Homma, Eileen Kage and Kathy Shimizu. Also featured will be the premiere of Tengu and Oni, a new original music and theatre piece, blending North African rhythms with Japanese folklore.

Katari Taiko has the distinction of being the first taiko drum group formed in Canada. The group has developed a large and enthusiastic following since its inception in 1979, performing throughout Canada and the U.S., appearing in numerous festival and theatre settings.
Katari Taiko has built an extensive repertoire of both traditional and modern pieces, including original compositions. Their performances incorporate vocals, poetry and theatre. The synergy of the group, their joy and passion, together with the visceral experience of the drumming appeals to audiences of all ages and transcends cultural barriers.

Taiko music is rooted in the history of rural farming and fishing communities throughout Japan. Katari Taiko combines the traditional rhythms and discipline of the drums with the power of choreographed and improvisational movement. Over the past three decades, Katari Taiko has undergone many changes, but has always remained committed to bringing Japanese and Japanese-Canadian culture to the broader community; supporting grassroots initiatives and progressive causes; and balancing tradition with innovation.

Georgia Straight

Hard to believe it’s been thirty years since we started Katari Taiko. I’ll be pulling on the old tabi and joining in for a piece or two. I think Shinobu Homma and I are going to play 3+3. How’s that for a blast from the past . . .

Like Light Off Water


Celebrated Canadian poet Daphne Marlatt reads passages from her classic cycle of poems Steveston with an evocative soundscape composed and performed by Robert Minden & Carla Hallett.

Wednesday, May 6th, 8pm
Richmond Cultural Centre,
7700 Minorou Gate
$10, $5 Seniors
For more information, call 604-247-8300

marlattMarlatt”s words bring you to the river’s mouth and into a sensuous landscape of lives lived in canneries, fishing camps, on the sea and over time. Listen to the sounds of vintage waterphones, bowed carpenter’s saws, found object percussion and voice – a delicate resonance which surrounds Marlatt’s poetic voicing, rhythm and imagery.

The music evokes “the rippling and twinkling of water and light, together with haunting depictions of mysterious and erotic undercurrents mixed with the gentle beauty of the night sky.”
Dianne Wells, The WholeNote Magazine, March 2009

“Like Light Off Water is a new kind of soundscape, the musical score of 3 psyches collaborating on what is certainly one of the great poems of the recent past.”
Craig Tapping, Department of English,Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo, Canada

Legacy Sakura at Cherry Blossom Festival


Blessing of the Sakura on February 12

On Saturday, April 18, the Legacy Sakura will be honoured during a day of activities at the Cherry Blossom Festival ranging from musical and cultural performances to an ohanami lunch. This day will cap a week’s worth of events at Oppenheimer Park as part of the Festival.  Linda Ohama’s eagerly anticipated film Haru wa Akebono that documents the relocation of the Akebono that took place on February 12 will make its debut.  The Legacy Sakura Celebration is in collaboration with Oppenheimer Park staff and the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.  Visit for more information on the Festival.

4月18日、日曜日には地元アーティストによる音楽演奏、発表等が遺産桜の下、お昼時に催されます。2月12日にアケボノの移植の様子の撮影を元に したリンダ オハマ監督による「春はアケボノ」の初演も予定されております。この ジャパンタウン多文化近隣祝賀会 は、バンクーバー桜祭り委員会、オッペンハイマー公園のスタッフ、我々が共に企画してきたものです。詳細は、 まで。

square2Canadian noun, adj. A person born or living in Canada

Nikkei (nik’kei’) noun, adj. [Nihon “Japan” Keitou “Lineage”] Persons of Japanese descent, and descendants, who have immigrated or are living abroad, creating unique communities and life styles within the context of the societies in which they live.

Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival

The 2009 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival is ongoing at various venues around Greater Vancouver. Once again, Chibi Taiko performed at the Cherry jam at the Burrard Skytrain Station, this time with Yaikai Ryukyu Taiko.  As I was performing with Chibi, I couldn’t shoot our set, but I managed to get some good shots of the Yaikai Ryukyu Taiko folks during their piece.  There’s still lots going on at the Festival – see for details.


Performance to Include Jazz Arrangement of “The Sound Of Music” And Other Goodman Favourites

Saturday May 30, 2009; 7:30 pm
Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre
6 Garamond Court (north east of Don Mills and Eglinton West, north of the Ontario Science Centre)
Tickets: $35 for General Public, $30 for JCCC Members
Call JCCC at 416-441-2345
Young Toronto musicians step into shoes of Jazz greats and join Jazz icons Gene DiNovi (piano), James Campbell (clarinet) and Dave Young (Bass) as part of the Benny Goodman Centennial Orchestra. Completing the Centennial orchestra are: Bryden Baird (trumpet), Graham Campbell (guitar), Ernesto Cervini (drums), Tara Davidson (alto saxophone/flute), David C. French (tenor saxophone), and R.J. Satchithananthan (trombone).  By fostering these young talents, DiNovi, Campbell and Young will be passing on a legacy to the next generation of musicians and listeners.

For more information on all JCCC activities and programs, visit, or call 416-441-2345.

Downtown Eastside Invitational Golf Tournament


Golf and the Downtown Eastside are not terms that are regularly used in the same sentence except for the past two years, when the Downtown Eastside Invitational Golf Tournament has been held to raise funds for two really hardworking Downtown Eastside non-profits: the Vancouver Japanese Language School and Atira Women’s Resource Society. The third annual tournament on Wednesday, June 24 at UBC Golf Course.

For more information (including sponsorship opportunities) or to reserve your spot, contact K. Kurashima at 604 254 2551 or

Ichiro Number One at World Baseball Classic


Ichiro hits a two-run single in the top of the 10th inning Monday. (Matt Sayles/AP)

Wow . . . what a game — Korean and Japan battling it out at the gold medal game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. It was a great, great game, no matter what side you were cheering for and fittingly it came down to extra innings. Korea came back to tie the game 3-3 in the 9th, setting the stage for Japan’s Ichiro Suzuki to blast a two RBI single to bring in what would prove to be the winning runs. Japan’s closer was Yu Darvish, the 22-year-old son of an Iranian businessman and a Japanese mother — an interesting sidestory in an exciting game. The victory was by no means a given with Darvish at the mound as he showed flashes of brilliance but was erratic on the mound, walking three batters and giving up the tying run in the 9th.

Daisuke Matsuzaka was named the Most Valuable Player for the second Classic in a row, Japan having won the gold medal in 2006.

Forget the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry, this one between Korea and Japan is shaping up to be good one.

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