Canadian Nikkei Artist

Canadian Nikkei Artist series will focus on those in the Japanese Canadian community who are actively involved in the ongoing evolution: the artists, musicians, writers/poets and, broadly speaking, anybody else in the arts who grapples with their sense of identity. As such, the series will introduce Discover Nikkei readers to a wide range of ‘voices’, both established and emerging, that have something to say about their identity. This series aims to stir this cultural pot of Nikkeiness and, ultimately, build meaningful connections with Nikkei everywhere.

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Marjene Matsunaga Turnbull: Baking Japanese Canadianness

Read the interview with Marjene Matsunaga Turnbull by Norm Ibuki >>

After learning what the Japanese Canadian (JC) history was, I could describe events. Using layers to build upon, it became like a cake. And making a recipe for it was perfect for doing the family history within the general JC history, I thought. Each layer was done separately, glazed, and fired. Layers were glued together.

Recipe for The Hisaoka History Cake: “Continuum”

Preparation Time: 90 years
Use three nesting bake pans and make each layer, a generation at a time.
Yield: There is a piece for each and additional member ...

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Marjene Matsunaga Turnbull: How-to-Bake a Japanese Canadian Cake

Here’s an intriguing idea about how to think about your Japanese Canadian identity: What if it were a cake recipe what would go into it and how would you construct or, perhaps, more aptly, deconstruct, it?

De/constructing my own Japanese Canadian identity over the years, I’ve learned that the foundation of the Japanese part of my cultural shaping would include the food, my awkward way of interacting with others (especially in Japanese), Buddhism, aikido, how history has twisted and bent my identity, the novels of Yukio Mishima, Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, Kenzaburo Oe, and writer Naoya Shiga’s ...

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A journey of becoming ... with Toronto’s Lillian Michiko Blakey - Part 2

The continuation of Lillian Michiko Blakey's story.

Read Part One >>

Right after the craft show, I got busy with my first real art piece. I am still mystified as to why I chose to create a nonrepresentational piece of art. “White Night” was an abstract landscape completely created in varying tones of point fabric. Upon reflection today, I find myself thinking this is an odd way of representing night. The other strange thing is that abstract expressionism of the 60s have never been of intrinsic interest to me. As I grow older, I search for meaning increasingly in the ...

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A journey of becoming ... with Toronto’s Lillian Michiko Blakey - Part 1

Dear Reader:

When did you decide to become “Japanese Canadian” and did that choice come at a cost?

For me, it was when I realized that despite being immersed in a white community, I was not a full member and that my position in it was always qualified and defined by a persistent ‘otherness,’ that stereotype that even my most well intentioned friends can’t seem to see beyond. It’s always the same asinine comments about Japanese culture, baseball, or sushi. This Japanese Canadian (JC) stuff is about being pushed to the edges. White western fetishism with “Japan” has ...

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Norman Takeuchi - An Uneasy Harmony of Sorts

“Certain events can have a major impact that will last a lifetime. The forced removal of the Japanese Canadian - my family was among them - from the west coast into the British Columbia (BC) interior in 1942 is one of those events. My troubled feelings regarding this disordered time have remained unfaded along with my ambivalent attitude towards being Canadian of Japanese origin.”

— Artist Norman Takeuchi

As we launch into the new “Canadian Nikkei Artist” series, I wanted to start with artist Norman Takeuchi who was born in 1937 in Vancouver, which means, of course, that he was a victim of ...

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