Vancouver Mokuyokai celebrates 30 year anniversary
The Vancouver Mokuyokai Society, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, was founded in the early eighties by a number of Canadians who had returned home after living and working in Japan. Wanting to maintain cultural ties with Japan and remain current on matters concerning Japan, and wishing to influence the development of business between Canada and Japan, they formed the society, meeting informally on Thursdays (Mokuyoubi) over brown-bag lunches.
Over time they began to organize activities and events to get others involved in the society. In 1982 they formally registered the Vancouver Mokuyokai Society, with the late David Graham as the first President, David Wallace the first Vice-President, Bill McMichael the secretary and Ian Harrop the treasurer. From this foundation the group built an organization run by a Board of Directors, numerous members and volunteers, focussing on activities that would build friendships and cement ties between Canada and Japan.
The BC Government shut down its Trade Offices in 2000-2001 and Vancouver Mokuyokai’s focus gradually shifted to become more social and cultural, rather than business or political. However, now that Canada and Japan, our 5th largest trading partner, have agreed to enter free-trade talks, the focus could well shift at some future time.
Today Vancouver Mokuyokai continues to thrive and grow. Its diverse membership, 120 strong, includes families and energetic professionals of various ages and ethnic backgrounds. In addition, many more non-members regularly attend society events. Remarkably, a good number of its founding members also remain actively involved with the club. Whether they are business people, academics, English language students, new Canadian citizens or Japanese ex-pats, all share a strong connection to Japan.
As they have since its beginnings, members meet often to enjoy various activities. These include the original brown-bag lunch-time lectures and regular hikes. However, most popular and usually jam-packed, is Donwakai, a pub night held every third Thursday of the month.
Other popular events throughout the year include okonomiyaki night, sukiyaki night, bonenkai, shinnenkai, sake tasting, ohanami, baseball, snow-shoeing, tobogganing, curling and more. Quickly becoming a favourite highlight of the year is the August picnic. There, Vancouver Mokuyokai joins Vancouver Kiyukai at Jericho Beach to share food and games, including a fierce but friendly tug-of-war between the two.
In the last decade Vancouver Mokuyokai has worked to establish closer relations with other groups such as the Canada Japan Society, Kiyukai and JET Alumni Association. It has also become a staunch supporter of events in Vancouver’s Japanese Canadian community.
Mokuyokai’s members have played key roles on the organizing committee of the Sakura Days Japan Fair and can be counted on to contribute a strong volunteer contingent to the event. It’s also a regular attendee at the Powell Street Festival. During the 2010 Olympics the society contributed to the 5000 Cranes project to cheer on the Japanese Olympic Team. After the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, members worked to send relief and messages of cheer to Tohoku.
Vancouver Mokuyokai continues to act on its original premise that trust is best established by face-to-face interaction between people with shared interests. It serves Canadians going through re-entry after returning from Japan and helps Vancouverites maintain cultural, linguistic and business ties to Japan. As well, the society welcomes young Japanese citizens studying in the city or new Japanese Canadians into an openhearted and dynamic group.
Building on the foundation of the past with the energy of the next generation, Vancouver Mokuyokai is well-positioned to carry on its mandate well into the future. O-medeto gosaimasu! Congratulations, Vancouver Mokuyokai!
Mokuyokai 30th Anniversary Celebration Dinner
Thursday, November 1
Doors open 5:30pm Meal served 6:30pm
Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle Downtown Hotel
Point Grey Room
1128 West Hastings, Vancouver, B.C.
Members and non-members welcome.
For tickets and information or to become a member: www.mokuyokai.bc.ca