The Soldiers' Journey

Warrior Spirit

The Japanese kanji characters in the title of this exhibit are pronounced mo no no fu.  It is an obscure, ancient term that captures the essence of the early Japanese Canadian men we showcase here. Beginning in early 1916, over 200 Japanese Canadian recruits began military training in Vancouver as the Canadian Japanese Volunteer Corps, intending to offer themselves in service of the British war effort in Europe.  READ MORE

The Canadian Japanese Volunteer Corps

Yasushi Yamazaki, president of the Canadian Japanese Association (CJA) from 1909-1917, was a man of ideals. One of the early features in his newspaper, the Tairiku Nippo, was an expose of Japanese prostitution in Canada: he believed that brothels were contributing to prejudice against Japanese immigrants, and discouraged engagement in this profession for the sake of the community's reputation. READ MORE

A Lifelong Fighter: Masumi Mitsui

Masumi Mitsui was born in Tokyo on Oct 7, 1887. The son of a soldier, he tried to enter the Japanese navy, but failed the entrance exam. Feeling like he had failed Japan, he decided to emigrate to North America, arriving in Canada in 1908. He was working as a waiter when he enlisted in the Canadian Over-seas Expeditionary Force to fight in the First World War in September 1916, and was eventually taken on strength in the Fighting Tenth battalion. READ MORE

Dispossession and Return: Kobayashi and Inouye

Despite enduring the horrors of the trenches, and the war injuries that many veterans would bear for the rest of their lives, there was still more hardship to come for those who returned to British Columbia and lived there into the 1940s. During the Second World War, Japan was not ally but enemy, and Japanese Canadian veterans were not exempt from the discrimination and restrictive measures imposed on Canadian residents of Japanese heritage. READ MORE

The Fighting Tenth Battalion

Up to one quarter of Japanese Canadian recruits served as part of the famous Fighting Tenth Battalion. Formed in the fall of 1914, the Tenth started as a somewhat ragtag group: it was assembled from the 103rd Calgary Rifles, the 106th Winnipeg Light Infantry, and other soldiers who found themselves without a battalion.  READ MORE

Stories from a Hero: Kiyoji Iizuka

Private Kiyoji Iizuka was a familiar face on Powell Street both before the Second World War and after.  He lived at 522 Powell Street after his tour in France with the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force, and returned there in 1969 after being interned in Greenwood. After enlisting on August 5, 1916, Iizuka fought with the 50th Battalion. He was awarded one of 13 Military Medals won by Japanese Canadians, was wounded three times, and went back into the field of war twice. He was honorably discharged on February 7, 1919. READ MORE

Roll of Honour

The Roll of Honour, usually displayed in the Vancouver Japanese Language School, features photographs of the Japanese Canadian soldiers who died during the First World War. Along with the Japanese Canadian War Memorial in Stanley Park, which was erected by the community on the third anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge in 1920, the Roll of Honour is a strong reminder of the Japanese Canadian community's enduring pride and gratitude for the young men who sacrificed their lives for their adopted country and for their community. READ MORE