Raymond Nakamura

Raymond Nakamura lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. When he is not personal assistant to his daughter, he writes Vogon poetry, draws cartoons rejected by the New Yorker and gives tours of Powell Street, the Japanese community where his mother grew up before World War II. He has a poem about being an ice hockey goalie in a children’s sport poetry anthology called And the Crowd Goes Wild. www.raymondsbrain.com.

Updated October 2012 

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Glimpses of Marpole — Part 3

Read Part 2 >> Barb Miiko Gravlin "They went fishing on their honeymoon." Barb Miiko Gravlin’s mother, Yachiyo, grew up on Selkirk Street with her parents, Uhei and Tachi Miike, who were from Kumamoto prefecture. Many Japanese Canadian communities tended to have people from a particular area, but the issei in Marpole came from all over Japan. Yachiyo was the eldest of the seven children in Vancouver. An older sister Hatsuko had been left with relatives in Japan. Because of the War, they weren’t able to reunite. According to records from the Custodian of Enemy Property as…

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Glimpses of Marpole — Part 2

Read Part 1 >> Allan Arima “Life was pretty simple” Allan Masayoshi Arima, was born in 1931, delivered by a midwife named Mrs. Watanabe, who he said was well-known in the community. His parents, Itaro and Same Arima came from Kagawa prefecture in 1921. He said he was known as “Mush” (presumably short for Masayoshi) and shared stories about his life in Marpole for the Sedai video project produced by the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto. His father worked as a labourer for BC Box Lumber, making 15 cents an hour. In 1939, he killed in an industrial ac…

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Glimpses of Marpole — Part 1

The neighbourhood now known as Marpole is in southern Vancouver, on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples. The place known as the Marpole Midden is a site of Musqueam ancestors and now acknowledged as a National Historic Site. The pre-War Japanese Canadian community in the Marpole neighbourhood of southern Vancouver is not as well known as Powell Street or Steveston. Yet it was home to almost sixty families, including those of David Suzuki and Joy Kogawa, before being uprooted during World War II. During the pandemic winter of 2020-21, I had to the opportunity to work with the N…

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Nikkei Chronicles #7—Nikkei Roots: Digging into Our Cultural Heritage

My Bachan

We called my Dad’s mom, Bachan. When we visited, she’d offer me a cherry-flavoured cough candy, and I would nod and say, arigato. Every Easter, she sent me and my brothers a chocolate bunny each. She didn’t speak much English and I didn’t speak much Japanese. So I knew her only a little. She was 4’7”, vegetarian, and raised eight kids. She lived 91 years smoking roll-your-own cigarettes. I’ve since realized her life reflects many of the most significant events in Japanese Canadian history. She was born Taki Kinoshita on February 8, 1889 to Manzaburo …

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A Tale of Two Baa-chans

For better or worse, marriage can change your life. The arranged marriages of my Issei baa-chans (first arrived grandmothers) completely transformed theirs. Even though my grandmothers did not know each other, they shared experiences in common. Both were eldest daughters, born during the Meiji era of Japan, and immigrated to Canada as teenagers to marry older men they had never met. Both of my baa-chans discovered life in Canada was not what they expected. My father’s mother, my Nakamura baa-chan, was born Taki Kinoshita in 1889, the year a new constitution for the Empire of Japan w…

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