Stories From the Stage 4: Hiro Kanagawa

Kunji speaks to Governor-General’s Award winner Hiro Kanagawa about his experiences as a prolific actor and playwright, including being typecast, and his opinions on the value of exploring the Japanese Canadian experience in our global society.

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Stories From the Stage 1: Raymond Nakamura / Kunji Ikeda

To introduce our new series of Sounds Japanese Canadian to Me, founding co-host Raymond Nakamura interviews season host Kunji Mark Ikeda about his Japanese Canadian artistic journey to date, and what he’s looking forward to in conversations with other Japanese Canadian performing artists.

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Episode 28 – Mixed Heritage

It’s not alien, it’s utopian! In this episode, Raymond and Carolyn discuss the history, the social politics, and the experience of having mixed heritage. From the reasons for so many Japanese Canadians being of mixed heritage, to describing yourself as “half”, “mixed”, or of course “hapa”, even to the level of your own name, having mixed heritage is a complicated experience. This double-sized episode of Sounds Japanese Canadian to Me is just one part of a huge and continuously evolving conversation.

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Episode 27 – Hastings Park 1942 

It’s not all fun and games at The Fair. In this episode, Raymond is joined by guest Erica Isomura to talk about Hastings Park in East Vancouver, better known as the PNE Fairgrounds, and its role for Japanese Canadians from up the coast and Vancouver Island in internment.

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Episode 26 – Taiko

In this episode, Raymond and Carolyn explore the fascinating history of Japanese taiko drumming, from its ancient roots in folk culture to the emergence of taiko ensembles in both Japan and North America after the Second World War. Taiko ensembles first began in North America in the 1970s, and were closely tied to Asian American and Asian Canadian political activism.

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Episode 25 – Dressmaking (Our Mothers Patterns)

Sewing was an important occupation for Japanese Canadian women before and during the Second World War, not only to clothe themselves and their families, but also as one of the few professions which was not barred to them in the racist climate of the time. Many pre-war issei and nisei women were skilled technicians, attending schools to learn how to draft their own patterns. In this episode, Raymond and Carolyn discuss some of what they learned about this history from the Nikkei National Museum’s online exhibit, Our Mother’s Patterns.

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Episode 24 – Cultural Centres

Just what is it with Japanese Canadian cultural centres, anyway? This episode, Raymond and Carolyn discuss this phenomenon, from the JCCC in Toronto to centres in Montreal, Steveston, and even the Nikkei Centre which they’re recording out of. Different centres across Canada have unique and interesting origins related to varying histories of postwar Japanese Canadian settlement, and today continue to provide space for their local communities in many ways. Many were built with the help of the redress settlement, and are important venues for celebrating multiculturalism and Japanese heritage today.

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Episode 23 – Harmonicas

The harmonica was the musical instrument of choice for young nisei Japanese Canadian men in the 1930s and 1940s. Raymond and Carolyn look at some reasons why it became so iconic for this generation, some of the more prominent players, and story of the Lemon Creek Harmonica Band.

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