Japanese Husband Headquarters
The Japanese Husband Headquarters is a not-so-secret society founded by Yoshinori Tanaka in 2007 as a social club. The Bulletin talked to Yoshinori while he waits for their barrel of single malt whisky, ordered from the Odd Society, to age for one more year.
The Bulletin talked to Yoshinori-san at a secret location.
A Japanese men’s club . . . in Vancouver! What’s the history of the club?
Well, it’s a long story…:) Japanese Husband Headquarters (JHH) started with three Japanese husbands who are married to Canadian partners. We are all from different areas in Japan. Kaz is from Osaka, Yuji is from Nagano, and I am from Nagoya. Kaz and I went to the same university in Nagano at the same time, although we did not know each other then, and Kaz and Yuji knew each other through their wives, who both are from BC – they lived in Nagano, teaching English back in 2005 or so.
They all moved to Vancouver almost at the same time and I moved to Vancouver to attend photography school in 2006. I met Kaz at a climbing gym soon after and found out all the connections between us. I used to play didjeridoo in Nagano in a professional band, and when the band recorded a song, Yuji was invited to play a guitar solo. We did not meet then, as we recorded on different days, but I knew his name. Yuji is a professional Brazilian guitarist who has released albums and EPs. He plays at establishments in Vancouver and in festivals, including the Vancouver Jazz Festival.
Funny enough, we lived really close to each other in Mount Pleasant, so the three of us went out for drinks often, sharing our life stories, the daily problems and joys caused by cultural differences in our homes, and got hammered many of the nights. I started to call those nights “meetings.”
Then I came up with the name Japanese Husband Headquarters. The meeting date is sent out by text called “JHH Alert…” it’s just for fun, I’m kidding around with naming it and stuff.
We slowly started to meet other interesting Japanese men, and one by one they became members of the meeting. Now it’s not just for Japanese men who are married to Canadian partners – it’s Japanese men married to Japanese women, single men, one of us is even Taiwanese. I do not know how many men we have now, but the meetings always end up with about ten men – different faces show up each time.
What’s your connection to the Odd Society?
Sometime in 2013 we decided to do an East Van distillery/brewery crawl, starting with the Odd Society. At the time, the Odd Society Spirits (OSS) was still waiting for a permit to serve drinks, and they were offering tasting glasses for free, so we had shots of their beautiful East Van Vodka. Many of our members mentioned that it was just like mugi shochu, Japanese barley vodka, and when Gordon caught the word shochu in our conversation we started to chat about shochu and sake with him.
We purchased one of OSS’s first batch of single malt whiskey barrels, and there’s less than one more year to wait for it to be bottled.
We have had some more distillery/brewery crawls as JHH, and we individually have made distillery lounge visits on other occasions as well.
Koichi, one of the members, and I were stay-at-home dads when we met in 2011. We had enough time to do some home-dad-ish things, so we decided to have a doburoku*-making workshop. It started in 2012, and we’ve had multiple successful workshops at places such as Homesteader’s Emporium (now Homesteader’s Junction), Le Marché St. George, District Main, and Odd Society Spirits. We thank Miriam, Gordon and Josh of OSS for their support and hospitality – the event at their distillery was the most successful, with over 30 people attending, plus a waiting list.
What are the aims of the club?
I guess it’s for fun, ventilation, collecting/sharing problem-solving ideas, friends, connection, and community making. It’s a “third place.”
What is your role in the club?
The originator, the organizer, the clown.
Are you open to new members, or is it closed?
It’s sort of opened, sort of closed:). Those who are interested are welcome to join, but at least one of us has to meet that person first, in organic ways. Members can bring new people. We do not hold name list or any other organizational record, it’s just in our head…it’s an organized disorganization, and people who are members should understand that…it’s not an official club in the Japanese community or anything like that. It’s a pop-up thing, it’s a random idea of the original three men, who happened to be Japanese husbands married to Canadian partners.