Nikkei Place is saddened by the news that Mitsuo (Mits) Hayashi, one of the founders of Nikkei Place, passed away on January 29, 2021. He was predeceased by his wife Emmie Hayashi, who passed away in August of 2019 after they retired and moved back to Japan in spring of the same year.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Hayashi were longtime community leaders who tirelessly devoted their time, energies, and generous financial support to building and advocating for Nikkei Place, and the larger community, for over 20 years.
“Mits Hayashi had a huge heart; he was an exceptionally caring and thoughtful person. This was most evident in the way he initiated concerts and other events and anonymously donated items that enhanced Nikkei Centre. He was the Society’s bridge to Japan and the Japanese immigrant community, with examples ranging from building relations with the Japanese Consulate to championing the Japanese immigrants on the Centre staff. We were so blessed that he and Emmie chose Vancouver as home in their retirement.”
Craig Natsuhara, NNMCC Director
Mr. Hayashi served as the Vice-President of National Nikkei Heritage Centre Society, Chair/Director of the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre, a Board member of the Nikkei Place Foundation and the Nikkei Seniors Health Care and Housing Society. He contributed his time to the Canada-Japan Society of British Columbia, Nikka Health Care Society, Urasenke Tankokai Vancouver Association, Nikkei Community Shinnenkai, Vancouver Hakumon-kai, and the Vancouver Japanese United Church. For his contributions to the Japanese Canadian community, Mr. Hayashi was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays, in 2012 and a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013. In 2015, Nikkei Place awarded him the Japanese Culture Award.
"Mits and Emmie were a dignified couple who unselfishly dedicated their time and resources to the development of Nikkei Place. They supported many organizations in the Japanese Canadian community, but Nikkei Seniors Health Care and Housing Society seemed to occupy a special place in their lives. Always a gentleman, with an awareness of social propriety, Mits served as a vital link between the Ijushya community and Nikkei Place. We will be forever grateful for their involvement and support."
Ruth Coles, NSHCHS President
Footage from our museum archives, Moving Images - ICAS Collection, shows Mr. Hayashi introducing Nikkei Place:
Mitsuo and Emmie will be remembered for their many contributions to community building at Nikkei Place and beyond, and their dedication to promoting closer relations between Canada and Japan. Their volunteer spirit and generosity will be greatly missed. They leave behind a lasting legacy.
Nikkei Place has prepared a video slideshow in their memory. A tribute page has also been set up through Nikkei Place Foundation to honour Mitsuo and Emmie’s legacy at www.nikkeiplacefoundation.org/mitsuo-emmie-hayashi where you can watch the video slideshow, share a story or condolence message, or make a donation in their memory.
"Mits was a gentleman, and facilitated the relationship between Nikkei Place and the Consulate General of Japan in Vancouver. He greatly supported community projects in spirit and financially. We will surely miss him."
Fred Yada, NPF Director, NNMCC Director
A Message from the Hayashi Family:
Email dated Feb. 3, 2021 - translated by Louise Akuzawa
光夫 妹 伊原信子
This is Kayoko Ihara, Mitsuo (Mits) Hayashi’s niece. I hope you are doing well.
After returning from Canada, my uncle was living in a long term care home near me. Recently, his health suddenly got worse and I’m sorry to have to tell you that he passed away unexpectedly on January 29 (Fri).
We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for your kindness and all you have done for my uncle and aunt Emiko (Emmie) during their time in Canada. They had a good life. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic situation, we did not have a formal funeral but immediate family members and the Pastor prayed and my uncle was cremated.
Please accept our apologies for not accepting KODEN (Condolence gift/Incense money), flowers, telegrams and cards or any kinds. We apologize for not informing you right away. We wish to meet all of you in person to thank you rather than by email; however we hope you understand the current situation.
Kayoko Ihara (niece)
Nobuko Ihara (Mitsuo’s younger sister)
Mitsuo (Mits) HAYASHI
(July 07, 1934 – January 29, 2021)
Born on July 7, 1934 to a Christian family in Nagano prefecture. He was a second son among 7 siblings.
In 1958, after graduating from Chuo University, he went to New York where he met Emiko (Emmie). In 1961, they got married. While working for NKK (Nippon Kokan) Corporation (currently JFE Steel Corporation) New York branch, he attended evening classes and earned a graduate degree from New York University School of Business. After he was hired by head office in Japan, he spent 14 years in New York and 11 years in Vancouver. In 1993, his last assignment as a General Manager of NKK Corporation Vancouver subsidiary office, he retired and immigrated to Canada. He contributed to the Japanese Canadian community.
In May 2019, returned to Japan. On August 3, Emiko died of illness. She was 97.
On January 29 2021, Mitsuo died unexpectedly at a long term care home in Saitama Prefecture. He was 86.
Family (niece and younger sister) is not accepting Condolence gifts, flowers, telegrams and cards due to the Pandemic.