Harry Aoki is interviewed in the Bulletin, a journal of Japanese Canadian community, history and culture
John Endo Greenaway is the editor of Bulletin, published by the Japanese Canadian Citizens' Association of Greater Vancouver,
celebrating their 50th Anniversary in 2008. There are two feature interviews about Harry in the July/August 2008 Bulletin.
Harry Aoki – a life of music
following article incorporates interviews done with Harry Aoki in 2001
and 2008. Some of the following has been printed previously in The
is common wisdom in these times of increasing globalization and
shifting job markets, that the concept of having one career over the
course of a lifetime has gone the way of the typewriter and the rotary
phone. Instead, young people entering the job market are told to expect
to have as many as four or five careers (or more) between the time they
leave high school or university and the time they retire.
If that is the case, then Harry Aoki is light-years ahead of his
time. At the age of eighty-six he can look back on roughly a dozen
careers. As he admits, he may have forgotten a few. He has been a
composer, recording artist, conductor, impresario, efficiency expert,
orchestral arranger, logger, teacher, ski instructor, musicologist,
traveler and band leader, among others. And he’s not done yet. Despite
recent health problems, he still maintains a busy schedule and
continues to search out new challenges.
Interview: Harry Aoki
sat down with Gary Cristall and Harry Aoki last week at Nikkei Place.
Gary is writing a book on the history of folk music in Canada and had
been wanting to talk to Harry for quite some time. When I invited him
along, he jumped at the chance. We covered a lot of ground in the
course of our conversation and the following is just a portion of what
we talked about.
JEG I You were involved in a redress movement in Alberta right after the war, something I’d never heard of before.
Yeah, that was . . . that was a tough one, you know. There was this
Justice Bird. Lot of brain. You know, photographic mind and
photographic reading, and the attorneys were arguing, you know, arguing
their cases, and he’s looking at this evidence, you know, he’s going
like this, slowly (mimes turning pages), and he’s reading the darn
thing. It’s in his brain.
JEG I This was like a mini redress movement, then?
Yeah. This is when people were allowed to leave and to move around, and
it got some people like the Ohamas started. They moved to, what it’s
called, Rainier. And others did about the same sort of thing. They were
very successful as farmers, they were good farmers. So, yeah, that was
the first redress. It was just a handful, you know, able to do
something about it. They had to have a few bucks themselves too, you