Places where we can learn the relationship between Japan and the Prairies

By now, this office has shared various stories, including one on the relationship between Japan and the Prairies. Today, it will introduce, the 10th part of the series, some places where we can learn the relationship between Japan and the Prairies.

1. Early Japanese immigrants in the Prairies

  • The Bunka Centre of Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden (Lethbridge)
  • The Centre introduces the history of early Japanese immigrants, including those to southern Alberta, the relationship of the Garden and Japan, and it showcases “shisas” (Okinawan lion statues) which were gifted to Lethbridge from its sister town Haebaru, Okinawa prefecture. (Please refer to the first part of the series, “Two Japanese Gardens in Alberta (Symbols of Japan-Canada Friendship)”.)

  • Fort Calgary
  • This place introduces Japanese immigrants-related stories including a Japanese shop which opened in early 20th century in Calgary (Right picture). (Please refer to the second part of the series, “Early days of the Japanese Immigrants to the Prairie”.)

2. The Canadian Rockies and Japanese visitors in early days

  • The Jasper-Yellowhead Museum
  • In 1925, a party of Japanese climbers reached the summit of Mount Alberta, which none had ever done before. This Museum tells the story while showcasing some historical goods related to the achievement including ice axes which the party left at the summit (Right picture). It also houses a stuffed brown trout, which was gifted to Jasper from its sister town Hakone in 1982. (Please refer to the third part of the series, “Japanese visitors to the Canadian Rockies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries”.)

3. The First World War and Japanese Canadians

  • The Military Museums (Calgary)
  • The Museums tell the story about Japanese Canadians in the 10th battalion who joined the-then Canadian expeditionary Forces and fought at the European front (Right picture). (Please refer to the sixth part of the series, “On Remembrance Day”.)

4. The Second World War and Japanese Canadians, as well as battles between Japanese and Canadian forces

(Please refer to the eighth part of the series, “The period where Japan and Canada had the toughest relationship (The history that we should not forget)”.)

  • Hanger Flight Museum (Calgary)
  • The Museum showcases “Fu-Go” weapon (balloon bomb), which was developed and deployed by Japanese forces during the War. (The Military Museums in Calgary also has information on the balloon bomb.)

  • The Military Museums (Calgary, mentioned before.)
  • The Museums show pictures of HMS Formidable, a British Aircraft Career, which was attacked by a Zero fighter’s Kamikaze attack off the Sakishima Islands, Okinawa prefecture during the War. The Museums also tell the story of its fighter pilot Lt. Robert Hampton Gray (born in Trail, British Columbia and enlisted in Calgary), who scored a direct hit at a Japanese Military ship but died due to his fighter’s clash onto Onagawa bay in Miyagi prefecture.

5. The Redress agreement in 1988

  • The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR, Winnipeg)
  • The Museum talks about the war measures against Japanese Canadians which were invoked in the early days of the War. The Japanese Canadians who were, after long advocacy requested the Federal government to apologize to them for the measures. It was finally successful in reaching the Redress agreement with the government in 1988 (Right picture). (Please refer to the eighth part of the series, “The period where Japan and Canada had the toughest relationship (The history that we should not forget)”.)

Glenbow Museum, now closed due to major renovation works, has a significant Japan-related collection, which include one of the biggest collections of Japanese armors and swords in Canada and goods with historical values such as Buddha statues and Buddhist alters, which were submitted by Japanese communities in, for example, southern Alberta. Let’s look forward to the completion of the renovation, which would increase displays of Japanese Canadians and the relationship between Japan and the Prairies. It is expected that the Museum would re-open in 2026.