2015 Obon Matsuri – Sunday, August 9th at Ross Bay Cemetery

2015 Obon Matsuri

Cost: FREE


Kakehashi (Bridge) Stone

5th Annual Obon Festival
@ Ross Bay Cemetery & Ross Bay Villa

Sunday, August 9th, 2015
12:30pm – Grave Washing
2:30pm – Obon Buddhist Service
3:30pm – Matsuri (Festival)

Hosted by the Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society and the Japanese Friendship Society with support from The Old Cemeteries Society – we invite you to come and participate with us in honouring those who have gone before.

What is Obon?

Obon is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honour the spirit’s of one’s ancestors. This Buddhist-Confucian custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places and visit and clean their graves. It is when the spirits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household altars. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years and traditionally includes a dance, known as Bon-Odori.” – from Wikipedia

This is a time for us to get in touch with our past, expressing our true joy and gratitude to not only our immediate ancestors, but to all past causes and conditions that have allowed us to be here today. It is the ultimate recognition and celebration of the oneness of life that has existed in the past and that we continue to be a part of today.

Japanese-Canadian Graves at Ross Bay Cemetery

The Japanese-Canadian community in Victoria was exiled by the Canadian Government during the Pacific War (WWII) and very few ever returned. Therefore, there are no descendants to care for the graves in Ross Bay Cemetery. The VNCS and Victoria Japanese Friendship Society are pleased to continue the work of the Kakehashi (Bridge Building) Project along with the Old Cemeteries Society in caring for the Japanese graves. For more information please read: http://www.jccovictoria.ca/rossbay.html.

The following is the scheduled program for Obon 2015

12:30 pm – Grave Washing

2013 Grave Washing
2013 Grave Washing

Everyone meet at the Kakehashi Stone and then cleaning teams will be assembled.
Cleaning of gravestones
Laying flowers and senko (incense)
Preparing the Kakehashi Stone
Donations of flowers are welcome, please bring at this time.

2:30 pm – Obon Service

Obon Service 2011
Obon Service 2011

Obon service led by Reverend Grant Ikuta, Resident Minister of the Steveston Buddhist Temple and Bishop of the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada

3:30 pm – Matsuri (Festival at Ross Bay Villa)

Suika Wari 2014
Suika Wari 2014

Obon Matsuri (festival) at Ross Bay Villa (1490 Fairfield Road).
Light refreshments (including Sushi & Kakigōri) will be provided as a thank you for all the hard work in washing the graves and entertainment will include the Furusato Dancers, Suika Wari (Japanese watermelon game for the kids) and finish with Uminari Taiko!

Hope to see you there!

Google Map
Ross Bay Cemetery map – http://www.oldcem.bc.ca/brochurerbc.pdf

Click for a larger image
Obon Matsuri Map

Ross Bay Cemetery website – http://www.oldcem.bc.ca/cem_rb.htm
Ross Bay Villa website – http://rossbayvilla.org/

Proudly Supported By


VNCS Summer Social (Tanabata Family Picnic)

VNCS Summer Social
Tanabata (Star) Festival
Family Picnic
Esquimalt Gorge Park
July 5th
11am – 2pm

This event is open to all VNCS members and their friends. This event is less structured to allow folks to get to know each other better.

Please bring your own bento (lunch) to Esquimalt Gorge Park at 11:00am. The park has large picnic tables, lots of parking and full restroom facilities at the Gorge Waterway Nature House.

Make a wish to celebrate Tanabata

We’re pleased to provide tanzaku (coloured paper for writing wishes), origami paper for decorations and small bamboo for hanging the tanzaku that each family will be able to take home with them. Tanabata (Star Festival) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanabata


Cool off with some Kakigori!

We’ll also be making kakigori (shaved ice dessert) for everyone. Kakigori – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kakigori



Please direct questions to our organizers:

Yukari Peerless

Kana Mercer

Don’t forget to wear your yukata or jinbe!

Victoria-Morioka 30th Anniversary Celebration of Sister Cities

Victoria-Morioka30th Anniversary Celebration of Sister Cities
May 16th to May 19th 2015
Victoria, Canada & Morioka, Japan

To Celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the twinning of our Cities, our
friends from Morioka are coming to Victoria.

Invitation to Three Events:

Welcome our visitors from Morioka when they arrive!

When – Saturday May 16th, 2015 at 4:00 pm
Where Hotel Grand Pacific on Belleville Street
No Cost

Join our celebration reception on Sunday evening.

When – Sunday May 17th, 2015, 6 to 8:00 pm.
Where – Hotel Grand Pacific
Price $ 75.00 per person on Belleville Street
(Price includes appetizers, beer or wine, and non-alcoholic beverages)
Special Entertainment includes Miss Misaki Usuzawa

Misaki is an 18 year old Japanese folk singer from Ootsuchi, an area in Iwate
Prefecture close to Morioka that suffered serious damage in the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011.

Join us for the Bell of Friendship Ceremony (30th Anniversary)

When – Tuesday, May 19th, 2015, 8:30AM
Where – Centennial Park, Victoria Inner Harbour
(Located off Belleville Street between Admirals Hotel & Laurel Point Inn)

If you plan on attending, RSVP to
Bill McCreadie at wmccreadie@shaw.ca

#300 – 818 Douglas Street, Victoria, B.C. V8W 2B6
Phone (250) 388-7043 Fax (250) 388-7501
Email – wmccreadie@shaw.ca

Some of the highlights from previous anniversaries include:

1985 (Beginning): Matching monuments erected in Victoria (along Dallas Road) and Morioka (in Iwate Park) to dedicate the sister city relationship).

1990 (5th): Azumaya erected along the sea well, near Laurel Point, in Victoria


1995 (10th): Native Totem Pole erected in Morioka, in Iwate Park

2000 (15th): Victoria – Morioka Friendship Clock installed on the tower of the Tourist Information Centre in downtown Victoria


2005 (20th): Dr. Inazo Nitobe Memorial Garden constructed at the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, BC


2010 (25th): Victoria-Morioka Mural, a joint project with the Creative Peace Mural Society, constructed in Victoria & Morioka, and donated to City of Morioka.


2015 (30th):  Friendship Bell, a gift from Morioka, to be unveiled in Victoria (on Tues., May 19th)

Faces of Japanese Diversity: Demystifying Japan’s Homogeneity Seminar and Panel

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
7:00-9:00 PM
Tea and refreshments served.
LEGACY ART GALLERY 630 Yates St. corner of Broad.

Second seminar in Professor Brannen’s ‘Japan and the Other: Societal Change  from 1945 – Present’ series.

Presented in cooperation with the Landscapes of Injustice Project at the Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives.

This event features a panel of researchers exploring various aspects of Japanese society that destabilize the national myth of homogeneity, including various Japanese societal demographics, cultural practices and policy issues. We hope that the panel presentations will be effective in highlighting the diversity that is often concealed by discourses of sameness, in order to reveal the complex and changing relationship with and approach to “Others” within Japanese society.


Panel Facilitator: Jordan Stanger-Ross, Landscapes of Injustice

Organizer, Mary Yoko Brannen, CAPI Jarislowsky East Asia Japan Chair, Gustavson School of Business, UVic.  Professor Brannen will open the discussion with an overview of various minority groups in Japan, and the complex and changing relationship with and approach to “Others” within Japanese society.

Joel Legassie
Joel Legassie is a PhD candidate in the department of history. His research explores the colonization of Hokkaido, Japan in the late 19th and early twentieth century, with a focus on the exchange of information among Japanese, indigenous peoples and Western (primarily English and American) foreigners. He is also the Migration Program Assistant at CAPI. He has recently returned from a Japan Foundation Scholarship in Date City, Hokkaido, where he conducted research on Ainu communities local to the Iburi region of Hokkaido.

“From time immemorial the Ainu peoples have lived in the lands known to them as Ainu Moshir, to the North of the early Japanese state. The Ainu spoke their own language, and maintained a vibrant and complex culture supported by hunting, fishing, agriculture and especially vigorous and independent trade with neighbouring peoples. However, by the turn of the twentieth century, Ainu Moshir had been appropriated by the modern Japanese nation-state, while legal and social discrimination in a burgeoning Japanese settler society systematically excluded Ainu from both traditional and modern ways of life. Joel’s talk will explore how Ainu individuals and communities have resisted and managed this colonial onslaught to protect their distinct culture and identity within the powerful discourse of Japanese nationalism.”

Simon Nantais
Simon Nantais completed his doctoral studies at the University of Victoria in 2011. He has taught Japanese and East Asian history across the Lower Mainland and is presently at Simon Fraser University. His manuscript, under contract with UBC Press, is entitled Mistaken Identity: Race, Nationality, Ideology, and the Formation of the Korean Community in Japan
“My research examines Koreans in postwar Japan through the lens of nationality. Once treated as Japanese nationals in imperial Japan, after the end of the Asia-Pacific War, not only did Koreans lose their Japanese nationality but they struggled – and continue to do so – to find a home, and therefore a national identity, between the country of their birthplace (Japan) and a Korean ancestral home ruled by two ideological opposed states that few have ever visited or speak its language.”

Masako Iino
Past President and Professor Emeritus of Tsuda College, Tokyo
As a professor she taught at Tsuda College for many years, having taught at McGill University and Acadia University and having been a visiting professor at University of California, Berkeley, and Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania.  She was President of the Japanese Association for Canadian Studies (1996-2000) and was awarded with the Governor General’s International Award for Canadian Studies in 2001.  She has published many books and papers in the fields of American Studies and Canadian Studies, as well as immigration studies, including A History of Japanese Canadians: Swayed by Canada-Japan Relations (Tokyo:  University of Tokyo Press, 1997) (Awarded with the Prime Minister’s Award for Publication), Thirty-Seven Chapters to Experience Canada (Tokyo: Akashi Shoten, 2012) (co-editor and author), Another History of US-Japan Relations: Japanese Americans Swayed by the Cooperation and the Disputes between the Two Nations (Tokyo: Yuhikaku, 2000), and Ethnic America  (Tokyo: Yuhikaku, 2011) (Revised version of Ethnic America, 1984 and 1997) (co-author).

“Japanese Canadians ‘repatriated’ to Japan during WWII”
“During World War II Japanese Canadians were removed from the West Coast of British Columbia, where more than 90 percent of them lived, to the interior of the province. Later they were given two options: either apply for voluntary “repatriation” to Japan or go ”east of the Rockies.”  Little research has been done on the more than 4000 Japanese Canadians who decided to sign up for “repatriation” to Japan, a country many of them had never even seen, instead of remaining in Canada.  My presentation tries to explore what they experienced upon going to Japan, a country devastated by the war.”

Marvin Sterling
Marvin D. Sterling is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University, Bloomington.  He is author of “Babylon East:  Performing Dancehall, Roots Reggae and Rastafari in Japan” (Duke University Press, 2010), in which he explores the popularity of a range of Jamaican cultural forms in the country. In a more recent line of research, he has shifted geographical perspectives from Japan to explore the Japanese community in Jamaica, one that has emerged primarily around an interest in learning Jamaican culture at its source. In another, new line of research, he traces the historical development of and ethnographically situates the discourse of human rights in Jamaican society today.
“In this presentation I explore Japanese reggae artists’ performances of their identities as ethnic minorities in Japan, in interviews, in the lyrics of their songs and music videos, as well as on stage. Focusing on Ainu, Okinawan, Koreans, Chinese, and burakumin artists, I argue that this discussion might be productively framed in the context of a Japanese society in which non-Yamato Japaneseness in entertainment and the arts hides, in Dick Hebdige’s (1989) metaphor, in the light, in which minority Japanese reggae artists situationally assert but also obscure their ethnic identities in the face of state and social surveillances both explicit and implied.”

For more information visit www.uvic.ca/capi

Natasha Fox, Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives
Direct: 250-721-7661 | Centre: 250-721-7020

2015 VNCS Annual General Meeting

Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society
2015 Annual General Meeting

Sunday, February 1, 2015
Esquimalt Rec Centre, 527 Fraser Street.
(Senior’s Room which is just to the left of the main entrance)
10:00AM – 1:00PM
(Memberships can be created/renewed at the AGM)


10:00 – 11:30 – Annual General Meeting (Reports, Election of Board etc)
11:30 – 12:00 – Lunch Break – BYOB (Bring Your Own Bento)
12:00 – 13:00 – Presentation of the film “Kiri’s Piano” with director France Benoit in attendance.

Support your society and attend the VNCS AGM on Sunday, February 1, 2015 at the Esquimalt Rec Centre. Proceedings begin at 10 am with various reports recapping the past year. This will be followed by nominations and election of the new board.

NOTE: In addition this year, there are proposed amendments to the Constitution By-Laws for review, discussion and approval. Members should have received the constitution packages via Canada Post within the last two weeks.

If you are interested in sitting on the VNCS board, you are welcome to join us. Be part of the board, it’s a great way to get to know more about the Japanese community here in Victoria. Collectively our 10 member board has close to 100 years of service since 1993, ranging from tenures of 2 to 20 years.

Kiri’s Piano with France Benoit

After the AGM portion, we will be showing the film, Kiri’s Piano.

This is the British Columbia (private) premiere of France Benoit’s heart wrenching short film, Kiri’s Piano.

Inspired by Canadian folk singer James Keelaghan’s 1988 song of the same name, the film chronicles one woman’s sacrifice in the face of rampant prejudice tearing her Japanese Canadian family apart. Kiri’s once joyful piano music turns bitter when forced relocation and internment take away her husband, her home, and her family’s simple fishing life along the BC coast.


The VNCS will provide refreshments and appetizers during the AGM and the film, so come, relax and enjoy a great film.