President Lorene Oikawa’s Message – January 2018

Happy New Year!


We bid farewell to 2017, with our traditional eating of Toshikoshi noodle soup on New Year’s Eve, and then eating Osechi Ryori, special Japanese food, on New Year’s Day. The holidays are a time for gathering and eating with family, friends, and loved ones. It’s also a special time for Japanese Canadians to celebrate their heritage and culture.


Osechi Ryori are traditional Japanese food and dishes symbolizing good luck and wishes for the year. It’s a long held tradition which started in Japan in the Heian Period (794-1185). I remember my mother and my grandmother telling me I had to eat the traditional food to ensure a good new year. The following is a list of some of the traditional food:


Nishime (cooked vegetables – shiitake mushroom, Japanese potato, gobo, lotus root, carrots, snow peas).

Kinpira (Gobo, braised Burdock root and carrots)

Tazukuri (candied sardines) – symbolizes an abundant harvest

Kuromame (sweet black beans) – wish for good health

Kamaboko (fish cake) – representing celebration and festivities.

Ebi (prawns) – wish for long life

Konbu (seaweed) wrapped with kanpyo (gourd strip) – for perennial youth and long life


The food is served in beautiful lacquered serving boxes that resemble bento boxes and are stacked in layers. The layers represent the layers of happiness and wealth for the New Year.


Our family’s Japanese Canadian tradition also includes chow mein (my mother’s side of the family is from Cumberland on Vancouver Island and my grandmother taught other families how to make chow mein and they called it Cumberland chow mein), teriyaki salmon, teriyaki chicken, sunomono (shrimp, cucumber, and noodle salad), and sushi especially inari sushi, a family favourite that my cousins refer to as bag sushi, because flavoured rice and vegetables are stuffed into deep-fried tofu “bags.”  We serve our food in ojubako (lacquer boxes) and Japanese plates and bowls.


Keeping the food traditions alive is a way to remember our ancestors and our family. Food is also a wonderful way to share our culture and our personal stories, and bridge the gap with other families and communities.


2018 is Year of the Dog, and we will be commemorating the 30th anniversary of Redress, the 60th anniversary of the GVJCCA Bulletin magazine, the 66th anniversary of the GVJCCA, the 90th anniversary of Japan-Canada relations, and working on other events throughout the year.


In January, we will welcome the New Year and launch our The Bulletin / Geppo contest. We will celebrate our Japanese Canadians seniors at Keirokai on January 20. In February we will have the official launch of our film, Discover the Stories of Japanese Canadians in Surrey, tentatively set for February 11. On February 25, we will have our 4th annual GVJCCA Community Bowl-a-thon. In May (dates TBD) we will have our annual walking tour and forum for Asian Heritage Month. On August 4 & 5 we will have our annual salmon BBQ & community booth at Powell Street Festival. On Sept 1 & 2 we will have our Bulletin display at Nikkei Matsuri. In November we will have our annual Film Festival. More events to be announced (in The Bulletin / Geppo and on our website) once details are confirmed.


Be sure to register by February 2nd for the 4th Annual GVJCCA Community Bowl-a-thon and take advantage of the early bird pricing $30 for individual / $180 for a team (maximum 6) which includes two hours of bowling and shoe rental. From February 3 until February 16 (deadline), the cost will be $35 for individual / $210 for a team of 6.


The Bowl-a-thon is a fundraiser, and it’s also an opportunity for members of the Japanese Canadian community and other communities and families and friends to come together and have some fun. We are raising funds to keep producing the high quality, monthly Bulletin magazine for the community. You can also help by collecting pledges for the GVJCCA or one of the other Japanese Canadian community groups who are participating in this community bowl-a-thon. We will have lots of prizes including for the bowler who collects the top amount of $ pledges and also for the bowlers with the top scores. It’s fun for all ages.


You will have a choice of 5 pin or 10 pin bowling at our new venue, Lucky 9 Lanes, in Richmond with plenty of free parking. We hope to see you at the Bowl-a-thon and other events in 2018.


On behalf of the GVJCCA Board, we wish you and your loved ones a very happy, healthy, prosperous New Year. Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu!