Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre Turns 20

Over 30 years ago, the idea of having a gathering place for Japanese Canadians of all ages, and welcoming the larger community to share in this space, was just a dream. In December of 1986, a small group conceived of Nikkei Place - a multi-purpose complex joining a national Japanese Canadian cultural centre, seniors’ housing, and a care home. It took planning, commitment, and tenacity to bring the project to construction. On August 9, 1997, a ceremonial groundbreaking and tree planting took place to begin construction of the New Sakura-So seniors’ housing facility, the first building of the Nikkei Place campus.

Soon after, Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre (NNMCC) was built (then named the Nikkei National Heritage Centre) and officially opened to serve the community on September 22, 2000. The community gathered, along with dignitaries and special guests, to share in fanfare and celebration. Since then, NNMCC has welcomed hundreds of thousands of people to experience exhibits, cultural programs, special events, educational tours, and more.

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Ruth Coles and many others at the opening of the NNHC Sept 22, 2000
Ribbon cutting
Ribbon cutters: Building Committee Sam Yamamoto, JC National Redress Foundation Chair Dr. Henry Shimizu, Burnaby Mayor Douglas Drummond, Japanese Ambassador Katsuhisa Uchida, Secretary of State Asia Pacific Raymond Chan, NNHC Society President Gordon Kadota, BC Multiculturalism & Immigration Minister Sue Hammel, NAJC president Keiko Miki, and George Oikawa.
Odori on the grounds of the NNHC opening September 22, 2000
Chibi Taiko performing at the NNHC opening Sept 22, 2000
Sumo and Mikoshi
Mikoshi on grounds of NNHC awaiting the Sumo competition at the opening of the NNHC, September 22, 2000
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NNMCC’s 20th anniversary year has been unlike any other in its history. The COVID-19 pandemic led to the closure of the facility in March 2020, and a re-opening in June under drastically reduced capacity to comply with public health orders. Popular community events such as our Japanese Book Sale and Nikkei Matsuri have been completely re-imagined to allow for safe gatherings and cultural exchange to continue. And our online resources have become more important than ever: we have worked to maintain and enhance our online archival research database, educational activities, and online exhibits, and to develop innovative distance-friendly programming.

As the 20th anniversary of Opening Day arrives, the NNMCC marks the occasion in a similar way to the beginning of Nikkei Place with the planting of a pine tree. Due to the pandemic, Sunday’s ceremony was kept to a small gathering of current board members and guests.

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NNMCC 20th Anniversary Celebration - September 20, 2020. Pictured (L-R): Toshiyuki Izawa (President, Vancouver Japanese Gardeners’ Association), Kenji Usuda (Kyoto Garden Landscaping), Sam Yamamoto (Nikkei Place Advisor), Herb Ono (President, NNMCC), Karah Goshinmon Foster (ED, NNMCC)
NNMCC 20th Anniversary Celebration - September 20, 2020
Vancouver Okinawa Taiko
Vancouver Okinawa Taiko performs at NNMCC 20th Anniversary Celebration - September 20, 2020
NNMCC 20th Anniversary Celebration - September 20, 2020
Chibi Taiko
Chibi Taiko performs at NNMCC 20th Anniversary Celebration - September 20, 2020
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At the start of 2020, we envisioned a large 20th anniversary gathering that would also see the opening of the Broken Promises exhibit. Broken Promises is the culmination of a 7-year partnership with the Landscapes of Injustice project exploring the 1940s dispossession of Japanese Canadians through a multi-disciplinary lens with academic and community partners across Canada. Although the grand in-person celebration had to be cancelled, Broken Promises will host an opening via online livestream September 26th, available to anyone around the world. And last Friday night at the Nikkei Kotoba Forest Lounge, we presented an original live poetry installation, Nikkei Poem, at Nikkei Centre in collaboration with the local Tasai Collective. Nikkei Poem gathered literary submissions from the Nikkei community to create a unique and distance-friendly work of art.  

No one could have foreseen a 20th anniversary year like this one for the NNMCC. A place that has served as a physical gathering place for a our diverse community, NNMCC has faced enormous challenges from government orders  for public health. But enormous challenges have also come with opportunities for resilience: for NNMCC to continue modified programming and a sense of community at a time when many other gathering places are unavailable; and to broaden our reach to a worldwide community online.

We need your support today to maintain Nikkei Centre as a gathering place for future generations. Please consider donating to our Resilience Fundraiser to help us reach our $250 000 goal. All donations made before December 31 will be matched up to $100 000.

Whether you’ve been with us for decades or minutes, thank you for being part of our community. #NNMCC2020






2020年の年明け、私たちは盛大な20周年記念式典の開催を考えており、「破られた約束 (Broken Promises) 」展の開展式も同時に行う予定でした。この展示は、「不正義の風景 (Landscapes of Injustice)」研究プロジェクトの7年の集大成で、1940年代に行われた日系カナダ人の財産没収について、カナダ中の研究者やコミュニティー・パートナーの方々と共に、さまざまな学問分野の立場から検討したものです。皆様にご参加いただける盛大な式典は開催することが出来なくなりましたが、今週の土曜日に開展式の様子をライブ配信いたしますので、世界中からどなたでもご視聴いただくことが出来ます。また先週金曜日の夜には日系センターにて、地元アーティスト集団Tasaiと共同で、独創的な詩のインスタレーション「日系ポエム」を実施しました。このインスタレーションでは、日系人コミュニティーから文章を募り、遠隔で参加できるユニークな、ひとつの芸術作品を創り上げました。