The Nikkei Memory Capture Project seeks to ‘return the stories’ of Japanese Canadians in southern Alberta through digital storytelling. These digital stories use multimedia tools, video, images, sounds, and words, to capture moments and bring oral history narratives to life.
Yume o oikake: Chasing My Dream
Pat Sassa’s devotion to the art of Japanese dance began at a young age. She currently participates in regular performances at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens in Lethbridge, Alberta and coordinates group practices year-round. Pat always shows reverence towards her senseis for their wisdom and influence in her dance career. She begins her story by acknowledging her mother’s expertise in sewing kimonos for her performances.
Tosh’s Gardens: A Meditation
Tosh Kanashiro was the first construction supervisor of the Nikka Yuko Centennial Garden and he was also a member of the Board of Directors at the Garden for 31 years. In this story, he describes his life-long hobby of building Japanese-style gardens. His appreciation for nature and natural beauty is the inspiration for his designs and the materials he uses.
O-nigiri: A Memory Invocation
In this film, Darren Aoki shares memories of his grandmother, her past, and his past. Through explaining the process of making o-nigiri, Japanese rice balls, a seemingly innocuous practice, he narrates his relationship with his grandmother and the layers and textures of her life. Joy, pain, and the importance of family reverberate in this beautifully crafted narrative.
A Man: George Takashima 1934-2020
In this dedication film, George Takashima’s daughter, Cheryl, tells the story of a humble and reserved man who believed in God and diversity, and who tirelessly gave back to his community. George was the Pastor for the Japanese United Church in Lethbridge, Alberta and he organized and led bus tours to internment camp sites in British Columbia to teach people about Japanese Canadian histories.
Using poignant images and personal memories, Janet Adachi-Elkjaer and Peter Elkjaer tell a powerful story about familial love. In this film, they narrate their lives as an interracial couple who celebrate their Japanese and Danish backgrounds with their children, highlighting Janet’s mother, Kay, as a central force in their lives. “Family Recipe” is an engaging and inspiring example of the power of digital storytelling to connect all of us with community and one another.
On 25 February 2023, the Nikkei Memory Capture Project held a special workshop at the Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta in Lethbridge, Canada. We explored the history and meaning of the Butsudan (Buddhist family alter). We initiated a new Butsudan for its owner in a ceremony called the Nyū-Butsu shiki. We reflected on the meaning and value of the Butsudan to individual participants through their memories, and created bespoke ‘Living Memory Portfolio’ including a digital storytelling film. To learn more about what we did, please see the ‘Butsudan Initiative Workshop Film’ and then view the ‘Living Memory Portfolio’ films.
Butsudan Initiative Workshop Film
Living Memory Portfolio Films
The Memory Booth: Listen, Learn, Share
All of the Nikkei Memory Capture Project digital storytelling films can also be found in the Memory Booth installation at the Nikka Yuko Bunka Centre in Lethbridge, Alberta (https://nikkayuko.com). This immersive interactive experience explores the southern Alberta Japanese Canadian past. In the Memory Booth, visitors can view the film archive, browse the Keijiban (community notice board) images, and create their own visual voice-art and digital recording so their story becomes part of the research.