Nikkei Voice asks Japanese Canadian community for support to preserve Kogawa House

Joy Kogawa outside Kogawa House in Marpole 2005. "Photo-Dan Toulgoet, Vancouver Courier" - used by permission
Joy Kogawa at Kogawa House, the house she left at age 6, never to return.

Katherine Mika Fukuma, the English Editor of the Nikkei Voice, has come out strongly in favor of the effort to save the Joy Kogawa House in her October 2005 “Editor’s File” column. The Nikkei Voice is the national forum for Japanese Canadians.

Katherine’s editorial, “The JC community is again in need of your support,” is nearly half a page long. It reads in part:

“As you may have already read in the Globe and Mail (Sept.24) or in the Vancouver Courier (Sept. 28), the house of Obasan (Joy Kogawa homestead) is currently in danger of being demolished. According to sources, the owner of the Marpole, West 64th Avenue house–in which Joy Kogawa lived until her family was relocated to Slocan Valley when she was six years old–applied to the city of Vancouver for a demolition permit in late-September.

The news came as a disappointment and a shock despite the fact that the city of Vancouver will be planting a cutting of the cherry tree from the backyard of the Marpole home on city hall grounds this fall as a way to commemorate the experience of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.

Other joyous news for Kogawa this year included her book Obasan chosen as the Vancouver Public Library’s One Book, One Vancouver selection for 2005, as well as the premiere of the Vancouver Opera’s World Premiere production of the opera for young audiences and their family, Naomi’s Road. The Vancouver Opera presented four public performances before the production embarks on a province-wide tour, visiting more than 140 schools and community venues throughout B.C. between October 25 and May 2006.

Furthermore, there was discussion at the September 19, 2005 meeting of the City of Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation of the possibility of naming the new Park for Marpole (at West 72nd Avenue and Osler Street and Selkirk Street) “Joy Kogawa Park.” This park will be a neighbourhood park, with a design element representing a Japanese theme to reflect the history of the area.

Now, wouldn’t all these events create more than enough meaning to declare the property, or the house as a historical landmark? If it is impossible to purchase the entire property, at least the house itself should be saved, before it is too late.

The house represents more than just a literary icon’s childhood home. It is packed with a historical essence of the kind of lifestyle of the prewar Japanese Canadians and may be the last of its kind. Once it is declared a historical landmark much can be done. (Of course, it shouldn’t end up as just a museum!)

I surely hope that Vancouver councillors are smarter than those in Toronto…Preserve our nikkei history and heritage and help educate our future generations.”

Nikkei Voice, 6 Garamound Court, Toronto, ON, M3C 1Z5
Phone: 416-386-0287
FAX: 416-386-0136
E-Mail: [email protected]

Publisher: Frank Moritsugu
Owner: Nikkei Research and Education Project of Ontario
Circulation: 3000  Subscription: $35.00  Frequency: 10/year

Yusuke Tanaka, Japanese Editor/Advertising Manager
E-Mail: [email protected]