Nikkei National Museum is New Again!

May 1, 2019
Art | Installation | History


BURNABY, B.C. — Nikkei National Museum is new again!

Nikkei Centre opened in Burnaby in 2000 with plans to expand its museum and archives in the future; that future has become reality. Museum renovation has been made possible by a generous donation from Yoshiko Karasawa, and in part by the Government of Canada.

On July 20, 2019 we open the new Karasawa gallery with a core exhibit titled Nikkei 日系.  Nikkei, pronounced nee-kay, is a term that identifies Japanese heritage, but its complexity often requires explanation, especially outside of Japan where the label is most relevant.

 With this inaugural exhibit, we deliver on our mission to honour, preserve, and share Japanese culture and Japanese Canadian history and heritage for a better Canada by drawing upon the museum’s archive and permanent collection to tell a layered core story of Canadians of Japanese ancestry. This ambitious exhibit will elucidate milestone events of our community’s history in a non-linear and intersectional way.

More than 25 individuals and family stories, accompanied by rare and previously inaccessible personal belongings from the community, will give evidence to lived experience of Nikkei in Canada. Digitized heritage film footage (funded by Library and Archives Canada) projected onto a double-height wall will be juxtaposed against Cindy Mochizuki’s contemporary interpretation of historic letters showcased in her visually luscious film installation, “Sue Sada was Here”.  We invite visitors to investigate broader questions of migration, racism, identity, and belonging through seeing, hearing, and learning about the Nikkei community’s resilience, resistance, and resonance in this country.

The exhibit will fill the entire new gallery space for its initial run, with built-in flexibility to contract down to a set of core exhibit elements in the future. This will allow ongoing access to a consistent Nikkei narrative for educational tours while allowing for rotating temporary exhibits in the Karasawa gallery space. The core exhibit also promises over time to rotate through a repository of over 30,000 photographs, 35 metres of textual records, 500 oral history recordings, 100 film reels, and over 2500 artefacts and artworks, which continue to grow with the tireless efforts of our archive and collections team.

Concurrent with the new gallery opening, we are also excited to announce a newly refreshed Charles H Kadota Resource Centre, museum archives, shop, and reception.

For more information about the exhibit, visit

Sherri Kajiwara, Director|Curator | 604.777.7000 ext 112