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.

culture en

Sally Ito’s Memoir The Emperor’s Orphans: An interview - Part 2

Read Part 1 >>

What does being Nikkei mean to you today?

Being Nikkei today means being aware of who I am regarding my personal history, and being aware of what continues to inspire me as a writer.

Is this something that you are passing on to your kids? If so, how and why? What is their reaction to these stories and their connection to Japan?

Am I passing this on to my kids? I have tried my best to expose my children to life in Japan, for example, and by having them take Japanese language classes, but ultimately, as …


culture en

Sally Ito’s Memoir The Emperor’s Orphans: An interview - Part 1

Nation of Birds

What if our only home were the air
And our wings flapping through it?
And time the space we lived in
And the nest, a current for our eggs?
What if there were no abode but
Shore or field, one day to the next,
The wide sky, the only true resting place
Made of movement and yearning
For a never-arriving home?

— Sally Ito

In Winnipeg poet/teacher/translator Sally Ito’s memoir, The Emperor’s Orphans (TEO), readers are taken on a journey of self-discovery of her Japanese Canadian heritage. As we have fewer and fewer elders to tell …


identity en

Canadian Nikkei: Oakville Sansei Dr. Erik Nabeta - Part 2

Read Part 1 >>

Have you ever been to Japan? What attracts you to it? Any contact with family there?

Yes, Tokyo. It was only four days, and I need to return. One of my favourite cities I’ve ever visited. Can’t wait to go back. I have a couple of Japanese friends that have said I need to visit Kyoto as well. I love Japanese culture for the respect they all carry. The city works so well because of this. My favourite example is the subway and watching people line up. When the train arrives, people wait in an orderly …


identity en

Canadian Nikkei: Oakville Sansei Dr. Erik Nabeta - Part 1

As a public school teacher, I’m keenly aware of the breakneck speed at which culture is evolving and how, correspondingly, ideas of “Nikkeiness” are changing too. Who needs grandpa anymore when discussions and information are just a Google search away?

For me these days the discourse about identity has shifted from the binary hafu to something a lot more diverse. Nowadays, it isn’t unusual for me to meet students at my mostly Punjabi/Hindi school, who tell me that they have relatives that live in Japan. One even has an aunt who works for the Indian embassy in Japan. Other J-cultural …


community en

Equitably Speaking ... Lethbridge Nisei Rev. George Takashima - Part 2

Read Part 1 >>

How did you become an educator?

After graduating from high school, I spent the first year of a five-year Chartered Accountancy program working in a CA firm. After one year, I decided this was not for me even though I excelled in mathematics. My girlfriend at that time was going to enroll at London Normal School (later known as Teachers’ College) so she said why don’t I join her? Tuition was free because there was such an acute shortage of teachers. I decided to give it a try and I rather enjoyed my experience at Normal …



book Canada chinese canadian culture food hapa identity Internment tour Japanese Canadian language Lethbridge memoir Mixed nikkei poet poetry repatriation rev. george takashima Sally Ito The Emperor’s Orphans vancouver World War II writer WWII