Secret Life of Canada

Why aren't there more Japantowns in Canada?

In the latest episode — Where is Japantown? — hosts Leah-Simone Bowen and Falen Johnson look into Japanese Canadian history and how the internment of more than twenty thousand Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War altered countless lives and split up entire communities.
Japanese Canadians being relocated to Camps in the interior of B.C., circa 1942 to 46. (B.C. Securities Commission / Library and Archives Canada)
Listen to the full episode56:04

In the latest episode — Where is Japantown? — hosts Leah-Simone Bowen and Falen Johnson look into Japanese Canadian history and how the internment of more than twenty thousand Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War altered countless lives and split up entire communities.

Leah chats with Lisa Uyeda from the Nikkei National Museum in Burnaby B.C. to learn more about the events leading up to internment and what life was like in the Tashme Camp near Hope, B.C., the largest internment camp in the province.

The episode also features interviews and performances by Julie Tamiko Manning and Matt Miwa, creators of the verbatim theatre piece The Tashme Project

A map of the shacks at Tashme, pinned from audience members to mark their connection to the internment camp. From the verbatim theatre piece - The Tashme project. (The Tashme Project)

Listen for:

  • When the Issei, (the first generation of Japanese-Canadians) settled in British Columbia.
  • How Vancouver's anti-Asian riots in 1907 led to vandalism in Chinatown and Japantown.
  • A description of what the Asiatic Exclusion League was (hint: not a Wes Anderson movie).
  • An interview with Lisa Uyeda, Collections Manager at the Nikkei National Museum.
  • Just what happened during the Second World War between Canada and Japan, and the ripple effect it had on Japanese Canadians.
  • An interview with Julie Tamiko Manning and Matt Miwa about their theatre piece The Tashme Project and their reenactments of several people who went through internment when they were children.
  • What happened to Japanese Canadians after the war, and the struggle of not being "Canadian enough" for Canada or "Japanese enough" for Japan..
  • A look into why there are only a few Japantowns in Canada, and why this history seems so relevant now.
  • What Lisa, Julie and Matt have learned from the stories and experiences of their elders.

Key References