Category Archives: One Book One Vancouver: Joy Kogawa's Obasan

REVIEW: Save Kogawa House Nov 12 Special Concert

REVIEW: Save Kogawa House Nov 12 Special Concert

The concert event went well today.  About 100 people in the Alice
Mackay Room, at the Vancouver Public Library + CTV coverage. 
Pretty good for very short notice.

The event started with Harry Aoki and Alison Nishihara playing
Pachabel's Canon on harmonica and piano. Then I welcomed everybody and
explained what the SAVE KOGAWA HOUSE committee was all about.  I
also told people that we were very grateful for the Vancouver Opera
Touring Ensemble
gifting us with a performance.  I had seen
excerpts at a Roy Miki lecture, the Vancouver Arts Awards, and still I
had tears in my eyes when I saw performances on opening weekend and
just last week at the library.

Harry Aoki next talked about some of his experiences during the war
years, and afterwards at the sugar beet farms in Alberta.  He next
played some pieces on his double bass that he wrote during that
time.  A surprise dance performance by Toronto
choreographer/dancer Andrea Nann brought a spellbinding tone to the
music.  Harry closed with a final piece on his harmonica that he
played while traveling in Romania and they asked for “Canadian music” –
a bit of a hoe-down.

Next up was artist Raymond Chow.  We introduced the acrylic
painting that he has done for limited edition reproduction to help
raise funds for SAVE KOGAWA HOUSE (see   This was the first day Joy had seen
the painting.  Raymond spoke about how he was inspired by “Naomi's
Road” and the pictures to paint the old house with a 6 year old Joy
standing in front.  I told how when Ann-Marie and I went to see
Raymond and the painting on Thursday that he had played us a short
rendition of a song based on the story.  He then played “House of
Joy” for the audience.

Introducing the Vancouver Opera Touring Ensemble, I told the audience
that they had just returned from Vancouver Island playing an amazling
show of Naomi's Road in Uculet, and also in Campbell River and other places + a
standing ovation on Denman Island.

The room filled with song from the voices of Jessica Cheung, Gina Oh,
Sam Chung and Sung Chung.  The audience sat rapt in attention, as
the story unfolded.  The singers coming up to their 30th
performance, as fresh and as exhuberant as each time I have seen
them.  I am getting familiar with the songs and story, and still –
I am amazed at the staging, the acting and the performance. 
Everybody does such as good job.

The applause was healthy and the cast was called back for more
bows.  I then told the audience that it was easy to see why if
Obasan was the book every Vancouverite should read, then Naomi's Road
was the book every Vancouverite should see.  The audience
responded very positively when I asked them “Do you  think every Canadian should see Naomi's Road?”  Again, I invited
people to tell all their friends about Naomi's Road, and about Kogawa
House, and that we were accepting donations at the back.

I invited the cast back as well as our earlier performers so that
Ann-Marie could give each person a gift.  I named them each –
Gina, Jessica, Sam, Sung, David, Angus, Harry, Andrea, Raymond and
Alison. Next, I invited Joy to say a few words.  There were tears
in her eyes, as she said “There are no words to describe how happy I am….  

To the Vancouver Opera Touring Ensemble, Joy said “Everytime I see you perform,  I am amazed.  It is so wonderful.”

She looked at Jessica, and said “You're e-mail mentioned how the opera
is healing for some people.  You're absolutely right….
Everything that is happening.  It is all so wonderful.”

People lined up to buy books at the back and have them
autographed.  People lined up to talk with the performers. 
One person came up and talked with Ann-Marie and myself about having
Naomi's Road staged at a Heritage Site and splitting 50/50 with the
Save Kogawa House campaign.

It was a good day.

Ricepaper Magazine loves Save Kogawa House concert with Harry Aoki, Raymond Chow, Vancouver Opera Touring Ensemble

NOV. 12 SAVE KOGAWA HOUSE special concert

Ricepaper magazine
is Canada's only nationally distributed magazine covering Asian
Canadian arts and culture.  Editor Jessica Gin Jade and Publisher
Jim Wong-Chu were interviewed on CBC Radio's Sounds Like Canada by
Sheila Rogers on Thursday Morning.

Jenny Uechi, writer and managing editor attended the November 12th
Celebration and Awareness concert for Save Kogawa House.  Jenny

“Naomi's Road” a huge success at Vancouver Public Library!

Jenny Uechi, November-13 2005

November 12, 2005

Renowned artists and community spokespeople gathered in the Alice
MacKay Room of the Vancouver Public Library on Saturday, November 12 to
express their support to save the Joy Kogawa home from demolition. The
free public concert was organized by Todd Wong, founder of the annual
Gung Haggis Fat Choy and writer Ann Marie-Metten, the Vancouver
coordinator of the Save Kogawa House committee.

Raymond Chow, Harry Aoki, Alison Nishihara, Andrea Nann, and the
Vancouver Opera cast of “Naomi’s Road” gave moving performances to
audiences who gathered to rally their support against the demolition of
Joy Kogawa’s childhood home, which appears in her awardwinning novel
Obasan. … read more

for more click on

SAVE KOGAWA HOUSE Celebration and Awareness Concert Nov 12

November 7th, 2005

SAVE KOGAWA HOUSE Celebration and Awareness Concert

NAOMI’S ROAD opera performance By Vancouver Opera Touring Ensemble

Special guest, Musician Harry Aoki and friends

Saturday November 12, 2005 2:00pm

Vancouver Public Library

350 West Georgia Street

Alice Mackay Room

Admission is free, all are welcome.

This past week, a cherry tree graft from Kogawa House was planted at
City Hall on November 1st, which was proclaimed Obasan Cherry Tree Day.
On Thursday, November 3rd, the Vancouver City Council’s Planning &
Environment Committee voted unanimously to pass an unprecedented
120-day demolition delay order for Joy Kogawa's childhood home to allow
the raising of funds so that the house can be purchased and converted
into a writers' centre.

To celebrate these milestones in the Save Kogawa House campaign, a
performance of the opera Naomi’s Road by the Vancouver Opera Touring
will be presented free to the public on November 12 at 2:00
pm. It will take place in the Alice MacKay Room of the Vancouver Public
Library downtown.

The Marpole home is featured in Joy's award-winning novel Obasan and
the children’s story Naomi's Road, which premiered on September 30 as
Vancouver Opera's second-ever commissioned original work and is now
touring to 140 schools and community centers throughout B.C.

Special guest musician is Harry Aoki. His personal story mirrors that
of the role of 10 year old Steven in the Naomi’s Road Opera. Harry had
to leave behind his beloved violin, when he was forced to leave the
West Coast because he was Japanese Canadian.

For further information contact Todd Wong at
Phone: 604-240-7090

More information at, and

This event is sponsored by Vancouver Public Library, Vancouver Opera,
ExplorASIAN, Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop and Ricepaper Magazine.

120 days given to Kogawa House, as demolition timeline extended

For immediate release

November 3, 2005

120 days given to Kogawa House, as demolition timeline extended

This afternoon Vancouver City Council voted unanimously to grant an
unprecedented 120-day delay of demolition for 1450 West 64th Avenue,
the childhood home of author Joy Kogawa.

The present home owner bought the house in 2003, unaware that the Save
Kogawa Homestead committee was trying to raise funds to turn the house
into a writers’ retreat. The owner has now decided to demolish and
rebuild on the site, prompting the now renamed Save Kogawa House
committee to action, soliciting support from writing and arts
organizations across the country.

Gerry McGeough, senior heritage planner in the Vancouver City Planning
Department, was instrumental in bringing the motion before city
council. He stated that the 1915 house could be registered as Class A
heritage because of its cultural value and local and national

Todd Wong and Ann-Marie Metten led the committee’s presentation to
council, with additional presentations from Diane Switzer of the
Vancouver Heritage Foundation, Heather Redfern of the Alliance for Arts
and Culture, and Marion Quednau of the Writers’ Union of Canada,
demonstrating the wide local and national support across Canada to
preserve the house,

Kogawa, received the Order of Canada in 1986 and her novel Obasan is
school curriculum across Canada and studied around the world. The novel
was also chosen as the Vancouver Public Library’s One Book One
Vancouver selection for 2005. An operatic adaptation of the children’s
story, Naomi’s Road, is now touring BC schools with the Vancouver Opera
in the Schools program.

Joy Kogawa arrived via car and ferry from a performance of Naomi’s Road
in Ucuelet, BC, just in time to read from her novel Obasan. Kogawa had
only left City Hall on Tuesday, November 1st, which had been proclaimed
“Obasan Cherry Tree Day”, as a graft from the cherry tree from Kogawa’s
childhood home was planted at City Hall.

Council was so moved by the presentation that Councillor Raymond Louie
immediately challenged other councillors to pull out their wallets and
match his $100 donation. Councillor Ellen Woodsworth wrote an
equivalent cheque and said council would challenge other city councils
to match their donations as well. At the end of the meeting, the
committee walked out of council chambers $540 richer.

An estimated $750,000 is needed to purchase the house from the owner at
“fair market value.” McGeough has been mediating with the house owner
and the Save Kogawa House committee, and the 120-day delay will give
the committee time to fundraise this amount.

Charitable donations can be made online through the Vancouver Heritage Foundation website at

To celebrate this milestone in the Save Kogawa House campaign, a
performance of the opera Naomi’s Road by the Vancouver Opera Touring
Ensemble will be presented free to the public on November 12 at 2 pm.
It will take place in the Alice MacKay Room of the Vancouver Public
Library downtown. Special guest musician is Harry Aoki, who was
interned at age 20.

For further information contact:

Ann-Marie Metten, Save Kogawa House Committee Vancouver Coordinator

Todd Wong, Vancouver Committee spokesperson
Anton Wagner, Committee Chair

Gerry McGeough, Senior Heritage Planner, Planning
Department, City of Vancouver

Diane Switzer, Executive Director, Vancouver Heritage Foundation

Kogawa House Demolition: Todd Wong's Nov 3rd presentation to Vancouver City Council

The following is the basic text of my
presentation to Vancouver City Council's Standing Committee on Planning
and Environment, November 3rd, 2005.

Hello Council members and guests

Thank you for receiving our request for a delay of demolition  for 1450 West 64th Ave, known as “Kogawa House.”

Thank you also to council for attending the Joy Kogawa Cherry Tree planting and ceremony that took place here on Tuesday.

Save Kogawa House committee is a local and national advocacy committee
in existence for two years since Kogawa House first came on the market.

We also thank the owner and representative, for working together with
us to seek a peaceful resolution and a win, win, win situation for all
parties involved.  The current owner of the house, the Save Kogawa
House committee, and the citizens of Vancouver, and throughout Canada.
It is our vision to purchase the house from its current owner and
transform it into a writers-in-residence centre, to give writers a
taste of Vancouver’s multicultural diversity.  This will give
special attention to writers of conscience, who can address human
rights issues like those that removed Joy and her family away from
their home to internment camps for the Japanese Canadians.

I am 5th Generation Vancouverite, my family has lived in Vancouver for
7 generations.  We suffered the racism of early Vancouver, and
paid the Chinese head tax, clustered in Chinatown for
protection.   After the Japanese Canadians were interned in
camps, we were all afraid that what happened to the Japanese-Canadians,
could happen to the Chinese too!  The experience shaped our
Asian-Canadian pioneer communities, and we tried to be good Canadians,
to integrate, and not cause trouble.

As I grew up in Vancouver, I have always related to the Japanese
Canadian experience as a shared Asian Canadian experience, due to
racism that lumped all Asians together.  But as my family
intermarried into the many other ethnicities of Vancouver, I have come
to understand that as Canadians, we are no longer two solitudes of
English and French, but inclusive of Scottish, Irish, First Nations,
Chinese, South Asian and Japanese culture.  Nor are we solitudes
at all, but one family that is intermarried to each diverse immigrant

Kogawa House is not a Japanese Canadian issue.  It is a Canadian
issue.  Kogawa House is not just a Japane-Canadian Internment
Redress issue, it is a literary legacy for all Canadians.  By
truly embracing the stories of Joy Kogawa’s works and the story of
Kogawa House, we can truly say “never again” to a sorry episode in
Canada’s history.

I was on the inaugural committee for the Vancouver Public Library’s One
Book One Vancouver program, that introduced Vancouverites to Wayson
Choy’s “The Jade Peony”  The program made the book come alive
through many programs and events from May to September.

Since January of this year, I have been enthused by the idea that
Obasan could be the 2005 choice.  I wrote an article citing 20
reasons why Obasan was the best choice including:
1) Roy Miki stating that Obasan is the most important book written to understanding the Japanese Canadian experience;
2) that Quill and Quire named Obasan one of the most influential Canadian works of fiction;
3) that Joy was born in Vancouver and recieved the Order of Canada in 1986.

Obasan is a book that every Vancouverite should read.  

In September, Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop hosted the Ricepaper
Magazine 10th Anniversary Dinner, attended by councillors Roberts,
Woodsworth, and Sullivan.  And we celebrated Joy with a Community
Builders’ Award.

Joy is an author that every community should be so lucky to have.

I attended the Vancouver Opera world premiere of Naomi’s Road.  It
brought tears to my eyes, and I wrote a review.  It is the story
of two young children who were separate by their parents.  Their
aunt takes them on a vacation, and while on the train, they come to the
understanding that it isn't a vacation at all – they are going to an
internment camp.  During the next 3 years, they will be branded
enemy aliens, and they will never see their home again.

Naomi’s Road is an opera that every Vancouverite should see.

We would like to demonstrate our vision for Kogawa House, as a vision
for Vancouver, and for Canada.  We will share with you how we will
do this, and how writers and Canadians across Canada feel about this,
and we hope to touch your hearts and inspire joy in your lives for this
city we love.

I hope that we can say that Vancouver loves this book so much that we bought the house and we saved it.

Thank you.

Oh – one more thing….
Just as I arrived at City Hall today, house genealogist James Johnstone
gave me a house history of Kogawa House.  He just decided to do
this two days ago.  He found that it is one of the oldest houses
in Marpole, and lists all the owners to present.  This is just one
of the examples of how much this book and this house have moved people.

Thank you.

CBC French Television: films Save Kogawa House committee in action at City Council Nov 3

CBC French Television: films Save Kogawa House committee in action at City Council Nov 3

Great News today!

Just watched Radio Canada – French television
Our segment looks GREAT!

We taped it! – now to digitalize and convert to a
webcast…  hmmm…. new technology….
I am having enough of a challenge working on the new weblog

Shots showed the house, Obasan cover, One Book One
Vancouver stickers, etc…

Short interviews with Todd, and Joy, pictures of
Ann-Marie, Diane Switzer, our lunch meeting at Kirin Restaurant with Marion Quednau, Jackie Byrn and my girlfriend Deb Martin.

And… it showed city councillors taking out their
wallets and donating immediately to the cause, led by
Councillor Raymond Louie's challenge for other councillors to meet his $100 donation.

Our committee worked well, and each speakers covered
their points, without any real overlaps.

Also this morning… CBC Radio had news segment with
interviews by Todd and Joy at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30am.

All good work everybody!  Well Done!

Kogawa House: Vancouver Council votes unaminously to create 120 day delay to demolition application

Kogawa House: Vancouver Council votes unaminously to create 120 day delay to demolition application

GOOD NEWS today!

We had a good
committee presentation with good support from Vancouver Heritage
Foundation, Alliance for Arts and Culture, Writers Union of Canada and
Periodical Writers Association of Canada.

CBC Radio-Canada Television (french language) even showed up to film us
during our lunch meeting at Kirin Restaurant, as we made our
presentations, and as we shared congratulations with each other

Ann-Marie Metten of our Save Kogawa House committee wrote the following:

I'm just home from City Hall and am pleased to report a unanimous
decision in favour of staying demolition for 120 days beginning, not
today, but on November 30.

Jim Green amended the proposed motion with this delayed start date on
the basis that we have yet to receive a development permit application
from the owner, who did not attend today's meeting and did not send a

I suppose the November 30 start date also prevents any further motions
to council before the municipal election because they do not meet again
until November 28.

Excellent presentations today from the following:

* Gerry McGeough summarizing his administrative report

* Diane Switzer on the Vancouver Heritage Foundation's role as agent for charitable donations

* Heather Redfern, executive director of Alliance for Arts and Culture,
spoke on the support from Vancouver's arts community, that one of the
inaugural Vancouver Arts Awards grants was used to help develop the
opera Naomi's Road, and that is important for the Vancouver community
to recognize and give back to the Japanese Canadian community.

* Todd Wong on the history of our committee, the cultural significance
of the house and its place in Canada's multicultural society, and also
on the story of Naomi's Road as told in the operetta

* Ann-Marie Metten on fundraising strategies and the importance of the
house as a literary landmark but also as a place of significance in the

* Marion Quednau read the letter from the Writers' Union of Canada and
pointed out the irony of the city permitting demolition of the house in
the same year that Obasan was named the One Book, One Vancouver choice

* Arriving just in time after having been delayed on her return from a
presentation of Naomi's Road in the Vancouver Island community of
Ucluelet and having faced ferry delays, highway traffic accidents,
nothing could  stop her, Joy read from chapter 9 of Obasan about
the house and about history being a part of ourselves that we cannot

Next steps: broadcasting a press release; attending tonight's
all-candidates meeting on heritage issues; phoning, phoning, phoning;
and meeting withGerry McGeough on Monday to plan a workshop with
interested parties to develop fundraising strategies.

A positive step toward saving the house today. Councillor Raymond Louie
even initiated a challenge to other councillors to match his $100. I
believe Todd collected nearly $540 . . .

Ann-Marie Metten
Save Kogawa House Committee

Writing Associations across Canada support preservation of Kogawa House

Writing associations across Canada support preservation of Kogawa House


The Save Kogawa
House Committee believes it can preserve that heritage by purchasing
the property from its current owner and converting the home into a
writers-in-residence centre. Ten writers associations representing
several thousand writers have endorsed our proposal and would select
members from their organizations to reside in the house for a period of
approximately one month each.

This is their vision of the house as well:

Brian Brett, Chair of the Writers Union of Canada:

“The Writers’ Union of Canada, representing over 1,500 professional
writers,  supports the effort to save Joy Kogawa’s childhood home
on 1450 West 64th Avenue in Vancouver from demolition, and would like
to encourage its conversion into a major writers centre for Canadian
and international writers.

Vancouver would greatly benefit by designating the Joy Kogawa House as
a literary landmark and establishing it as a writers-in-residence
centre in which Canadian writers and writers from abroad could write
first hand about our complex and evolving multi- and inter-cultural
society and how different values and traditions can peacefully
Brian Busby, President of the Federation of BC Writers:

“The house at 1450 West 64th Avenue which Joy Kogawa and her family
were forced to leave during the relocation of Japanese Canadians is the
central image of her famous novel Obasan, one of Canada’s best-loved
works of fiction. The many groups now coming together to save it
(whether at its present address or at another location) is one of the
strongest yet most diverse such alliances we have ever seen rally round
a cause. The emerging consensus favours employing the house as a new
cultural centre that would highlight the contributions of Vancouver
artists from all backgrounds—not as a shrine but rather as a working
place and as a place for work to be seen. This vision includes having
the facility in operation well before the 2010 Olympic Games.”

Amela Simic, Executive Director of the Playwrights Guild of Canada, representing over 500 members:

“Playwrights Guild of Canada members add their support to the Kogawa
Homestead Committee in their struggle to preserve the house and turn it
into a writers' centre. We think that it would be a grave mistake to
allow the demolition of Joy Kogawa's home, which is an important
landmark for Canadian culture and Canadian history in general. A
vibrant writers' centre would put Vancouver on the map along with other
cultural centres, like Mexico City with its beautiful Casa del Escritor
or Dublin with its Irish Writers' Centre.”

Rosemary Patterson, President of the Vancouver Branch of the Canadian Authors Association:

“The members of the Canadian Authors Association, Vancouver Branch,
would like to add their support to the Joy Kogawa House Committee in
their efforts to prevent the demolition of Joy Kogawa’s former family
home and save it for a writers’ centre as a permanent Olympics benefit
for Vancouver and all of Canada.”

Gordon Graham, President of the Periodical Writers Association of Canada:

“The Periodical Writers Association of Canada was founded in 1976 and
currently represents more than 550 freelance writers across
Canada.  (PWAC) would like to offer its support to the proposal to
develop Joy Kogawa’s home into a writers’ centre.  Writers’
centres and retreats, such as the Pierre Burton House in the Yukon,
have proved to be extremely valuable to writers, which directly
contributes to the further development of Canadian writing. This in
turn reinforces our national cultural resources and hence our ability
to promote ourselves internationally at events such as the Olympics.”

Mary Ellen Csamer, President of the League of Canadian Poets:

“The League of Canadian Poets, representing over 730 professional poets
across Canada, supports the effort to save Joy Kogawa's childhood home
on 1450 West 64th  Avenue in Vancouver from demolition, and would
like to encourage its conversion into a major writers centre for
Canadian and international writers.

Just as Emily Carr’s home in Victoria and Pierre Berton’s in the Yukon
provide a unique sense of the physical space that helped to define
those artists, so this building forms an important part of our
collective cultural imagination. To create a writers’ centre would be
an appropriate and timely action, which would draw national and
international writers to the West Coast for cultural stimulation and
peaceful retreat.”

Constance Rooke, President of PEN Canada:

“PEN Canada supports with immense enthusiasm the idea of turning Kogawa
House into a writers’ centre, and of making this venture a central
piece of legacy of the [Olympic] games. Certainly, we would make
extensive use of this resource. We would use it, for PEN Canada’s
allotted time, to house writers-in-exile, brave men and women who have
fled oppression in their own countries and sought refuge in Canada. We
work very hard to find short-term positions for these writers in
universities and libraries and so on, all across Canada, in order to
help them find their feet in a new country, and accommodation is always
a big part of the challenge we face. You have an opportunity here to do
something of historical importance: a chance to turn threatened
destruction into a very public gesture of preservation, reparation, and
new life.”

Jim Wong-Chu, Executive Director of the Asian Canadian Writers Workshop:

“Joy Kogawa is a pioneer for Asian Canadian literature, and we
recognized her with the 2005 ACWW Community Builders Award. Joy’s works
and legacy brings us closer together as Canadians, learning to overcome
our challenges and diversity. It is important to save Kogawa House as
both a literary and historical landmark. Asian Canadian Writers’
Workshop supports the preservation of Kogawa House, and the creation of
a writing centre.”     

Alma Lee, Founding Artistic Director, and Hal Wake, Incoming Artistic
Director, of the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival:

“We understand the historical and cultural significance of this
house as part of Vancouver’s literary heritage and believe that all
efforts should be made to save it from the wrecker’s ball.”

Sylvia McNicoll, President of the Canadian Society of Children’s
Authors, Illustrators and Performers:

On behalf of the members
of CANSCAIP I would like to offer our recommendation and support that
Joy Kogawa’s house be saved from demolition and be converted to a
writer’s retreat.”

Joan Andersen, Chair of the Vancouver Public Library Board:

VPL was honoured to declare Obasan as this year’s One Book One
Vancouver. The community’s positive response to both the book and Joy
has been most gratifying. Joy has spoken of the importance for her of
her first Vancouver home in public meetings and in the media throughout
the summer. The VPL Board understands the symbolic importance of this
modest house in the history of Vancouver, British Columbia and Canada
as well as its significance in Canada’s literary heritage. The
Vancouver Public Library Board supports in principle the campaign to
delay the demolition of the house with the hope of saving it and
converting it to a public use.”

James Wright, General Director, Vancouver Opera:

“Please accept this letter as support in principle from Vancouver Opera
to help exercise a ‘stay of demolition’ of Joy Kogawa’s childhood home
in Vancouver. We were honoured and delighted to receive Joy’s
permission to adapt Naomi’s Road into an opera for young people, which
is currently touring in schools across the province.  In its
premiere four-performance run at the Norman Rothstein Theatre, before
audiences composed mostly of adults, it was a huge hit. We at Vancouver
Opera appreciate the historical and cultural significance of this house
and believe that all efforts should be made to save it from the
wrecker’s ball.”

Tamsin Baker, Lower Mainland Regional Manager of The Land Conservancy:

“TLC would like to express our support towards the efforts to secure
the site and building in perpetuity.  TLC is a provincial land
trust working to protect BC's places of natural and cultural
heritage.  There are many benefits for the community that come
from the conservation and long-term management of important heritage
places. TLC would be willing to possibly provide support to the
community in securing the Kogawa home if the extension to delay the
demolition of the house is granted.”

Henry Kojima, President of the National Association of Japanese Canadians:

“The National Association of Japanese Canadians strongly supports the
retention of the Kogawa House.  The proposed international
writer-in-residence centre in Kogawa House would, indeed, be an
appropriate acknowledgement of our nation’s past, as well as be a
fitting tribute to the importance of Canada’s multi-cultural society
today. We respectfully urge Council to order a temporary protection of
the property for 120 days in order that sources of funding can be
pursued to purchase the home.”

Fred Yada, President of the National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre:

“To the Japanese Canadian community and to Canada, Joy's stories have
captured an important aspect of Canadian history, her contribution has
enriched Canadian literature, and she has told a story of many of our
people with dignity and grace. Most importantly, through her, Canadians
have gained awareness and
appreciation for harmony, acceptance, understanding and cultural
exchange. We believe that her work, and that a centre dedicated for
writing, will be a legacy for all Canadians, today and for the future.”

The Save Kogawa
House Committee thanks the current owner of the 1450 West 64th Avenue
property for giving us the opportunity to mobilize this extensive local
and Canada-wide support to raise the funds and purchase the house as a
writers centre.

Globe & Mail: Joy Kogawa Cherry Tree planting at City Hall from the

Here is coverage of the Joy Kogawa Cherry Tree planting at City Hall from the Globe & Mail

Group rallies to save Kogawa home:

Heritage house featured in classic novel chronicling Japanese internment in 1942

VANCOUVER — Time is running out on the childhood home of celebrated Japanese-Canadian author Joy Kogawa.

modest, but still well-appointed, bungalow where Ms. Kogawa spent six
happy years before her family's anguished internment in 1942 is under
threat of demolition, a victim of history and Vancouver's high property

The house features prominently in Ms. Kogawa's prize-winning 1981 novel Obasan,
a heart-rending, barely fictionalized memoir of her internment
experience that was recognized by Quill and Quire as one of the most
influential Canadian books of the 20th century.

Some have likened the house's significance to that of the Anne Frank residence in Amsterdam.

Vancouver City Hall “Joy Kogawa Cherry Tree Planting”

Vancouver City Hall “Joy Kogawa Cherry Tree Planting”

Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell pronounced November 1st as “Obasan
Cherry Tree Day.” Campbell read the proclamation in celebration of the
planting of a cherry tree graft from the childhood home of author Joy
Mayor Campbell acknowledged Councillor Jim Green who
spearheaded the tree planting initiative, going to the house with
Kogawa last year to take the tree clippings that were nurtured for a
year for the planting.

Also speaking at the ceremony was Paul Whitney, City Librarian,
Vancouver Public Library, and James W. Wright, General Director,
Vancouver Opera.  Joy's novel Obasan was the 2005 choice for the
library's award winning program One Book One Vancouver. 

James Wright said that when he came to Vancouver he was given a copy of
the book “Great Canadian books of the century” written by Vancouver
Public Library (1999) (ISBN 1550547364).  He said that he read
about Obasan, and it was one of the first books he read after arriving
in Vanouver.  Next he discovered Kogawa's children story Naomi's
Road, and was so moved by it, he commisioned it as an opera.

Joy Kogawa expressed thanks and gratitude to everybody involved. 
She said she was very happy that these things were happening and it was
like a shooting star.  She also gave special thanks to Ann-Marie
Metten and myself, for the work we are doing with the Save Kogawa House committee.

There was a good sized crowd for the tree planting including media from
Globe & Mail, Metro News, CityTV, and Shaw TV.  City
councillors attending the ceremony included Raymond Louie, Anne
Roberts, Ellen Woodsworth, Fred Bass, Tim Stevenson.  Vancouver
Opera staff who worked on Naomi's Road included Music Director Leslie
Uyeda, Artistic Coordinator Hitomi Nunotani.

The following is the text that Mayor Campbell read from and was presented in a program that was handed out:

Joy Kogawa Cherry Tree Planting
In Commemoration of the Japanese-Canadian experience during the Second World War

In 2005, Japanese-Canadian writer Joy Kogawa's novel Obasan
was Vancouver Public Library's choice for One Book, One Vancouver, a
book club for the entire city.  Throughout the summer people read,
discussed, and celebrated Kogawa's novel and explored the
Japanese-Canadian experience in Canada.  This fall, Vancouver
Opera presented “Naomi's Road,” and opera for young people based on
Kogawa's children's book, Naomi's Road.

2005 also marks the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Asia.

Kogawa's book Obasan
is one of the most powerful books ever written about the experience of
Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.  The story of Obasan
and its message about the consequences of of war and prejudice are as
relevant today as they were when the book was first released in 1981.

The house of Obasan
still exists in Vancouver with a cherry tree that Joy Kogawa remembers
from her childhood as “propped up and bandaged, but still very much

On September 10, 2005, Vancouver City Council
adopted a Motion on Notice to plant a cutting of Joy Kogawa's cherry
tree on the City Hall campus as a way to commomorate the experience of
Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.

Today, we plant a cutting from Kogawa's cherry
tree as a symbol of friendship and to commemorate the experience of
Japanese-Canadians during the Second Warld War.

Joy Kogawa with City Librarian Paul Whitney, Oper Managing Director James Wright, and City Councillor Jim Green – photo Deb Martin