As I mentioned last month, myself and four others (Brian Yamashita, Ottawa; Jennifer Sakai, Montreal; Jeffrey Naganobu, Hamilton; and Kelly Koga, Winnipeg), were the first Japanese Canadians selected as part of the Japanese Canadian Leadership Program (JCLP) sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA) to visit Japan. The aim of the program is for Japanese Canadian leaders to gain understanding about Japan and to meet and share information with Japanese leaders in regards to government, business, political, historical, and cultural views. The main idea is to strengthen and build Japan-Canada relations overall.
While we were in Kyoto, the sheer beauty of the landscape and the old architecture was truly amazing. The visits to Buddhist and Shinto shrines were particularly significant as they symbolized the close relationship that impacted the development of Japan’s history, politics, and economy. We arrived in Japan as the cherry blossoms were blooming. They were truly beautiful, particularly the trees at the Kyoto Imperial Park where the Imperial Family resided when Kyoto was home to the Imperial Family and capital of Japan pre-1868.
One of the stops in Kyoto was the Nichibunken (International Research Centre for Japanese Studies). This institution houses a huge library that assists researchers, both in Japan and abroad, who are studying Japan or topics related to Japan. Dr Timothy Kern and Dr. Mariko Nagoshi, two of the professors at the Nichibunken we met, had both spent some time at the University of British Columbia.
When we were in Kyoto, we participated in a traditional tea ceremony and shown the techniques of purifying one’s self and the etiquette on entering a tea house. I truly did not realize how much was involved in participating in such an art. I really came to appreciate the detail and significance of the tea ceremony.
We were also taken to Toba to see the Mikimoto Pearl Island where the world renowned Mikimoto pearls originate. We were shown how the pearls are seeded, cultivated and harvested, while also seeing a public demonstration by women pearl divers (äma) diving underwater to harvest these pearl oysters. This was both exciting and educational.
Once we got to Tokyo, this we got down to work as we went from one meeting to another. It was truly an honour to meet Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado; Executive Director Sadaaki Numata; Christine Nakamura from the Canadian Embassy; Jun Matsumoto, who is the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary at the office of the Prime Minister of Japan; and Katsuyuki Yakushiji, editor writer, at Asahi Shimbun. I can go more into the details of the visits but perhaps you can read them on our website www.jccabulletin-geppo.ca.
While in Yokohama, we had a tour of the Japanese Overseas Migration Museum, where there is some Canadian content in the form of visual displays. These are part of the history of emigration from Japan to the Americas. In this museum there are artefacts, photos, maps and audio-visual messages of interest to everyone. Although there really should be more Canadian content, this seems like the beginnings of what can be done. Also housed in the Museum are libraries of both the Japan Association of Canadian Studies (JACS) and Japan International Cooperative Agency (JICA), which could use additional material content in them.
I would like to thank Consul General Otsuka; Deputy Consul General Muto; Consul Nakae; and everyone at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan for such a great opportunity and gracious hospitality on my trip to Japan. I would love to do it again!
One additional item before I close for the month is that the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association will start taking applications for the following positions for the summer (dependent on funding from Human Resources Development of Canada): Administrative Assistant; Special Projects Co-ordinator; and Historical Research Archivist. Please email your resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax 604.777.5223.
Also don’t forget about the GVJCCA Golf Tournament will be on Sunday June 14th at Meadow Gardens. Golf Digest has rated Meadow Gardens Golf course one of the best places to play in North America. Every hole provides its own beauty and challenges, so we hope you will be one of many who enjoy its splendour. If you are interested please contact Shag Ando by email email@example.com or please leave a message at the GVJCCA office 604.777.5222.
Thanks, Ron Nishimura