Tonari Gumi Corner – 2018 Summer


                                                                        By David B. Iwaasa, Tonari Gumi Chair

                                                                             Martin Kobayakawa, Tonari Gumi Director

David B. Iwaasa

Martin Kobayakawa

A year ago, some people within the community were concerned that Tonari Gumi was encountering some difficulties.   There appeared to be considerable turn-over in staff and Tonari Gumi was missing an executive director for several months.  Since June of this year, things at Tonari Gumi have changed dramatically in the following ways:

  • Election of an innovative and dynamic Board of Directors.
  • Appointment of a dynamic duo as TG’s new Executive Directors
    • Masako Arima as our Community Service Manager, and
    • Kumi Kakinuma as our Administrative Manager
  • Launching of a groundbreaking new TG publication by our Garden Club called, “Our Edible Roots: A Japanese Canadian Kitchen Garden”, which instructs how to grow and forage 26 traditional Japanese vegetables; provides 40 recipes on how to serve these vegetables; and recounts the historical background of many of those vegetables in Canada.
  • Reaching Out to provide some of Tonari Gumi’s signature programs and activities for Japanese Canadian seniors in other locations throughout the Lower Mainland–in Steveston, Surrey and Maple Ridge.
  • Expanding our inter-generational reach by restoring TG activities for parents and pre-school children, and new workshops for elementary school-age children.
  • New Programs for English-speaking Nikkei:
    • To address the changing demographics of our community, Tonari Gumi is considering introducing new programs for English-speaking Nikkei. We will be striving to make Tonari Gumi a “home away from home” for these members of our community.
    • Specifically, with many Sansei’s, 3rd-generation Japanese-Canadians, reaching retirement age and beyond, there is an increasing need for a place to go and more programs for this key part of our community. Over the years, Nisei’s and Sansei’s have been among our strongest supporters.
    • Possible new program areas could include cooking classes, conversational Japanese classes, sessions on Japanese Canadian history and readings and music by Asian-Canadian creators.  We would welcome ideas and suggestions from Nisei’s, Sansei’s and Yonsei’s regarding possible new program areas or initiatives. Please send your ideas to Martin Kobayakawa at or Masako Arima at

Check out the new Tonari Gumi at or come visit us at 42 West 8th Ave. in Vancouver.  We look forward to receiving your inputs and your assistance going forward.


Tonari Gumi 10th Annual Christmas Concert

Well over $20,000 was raised just at this event at the St. Matthias & St. Luke Anglican Church as performers throughout our community volunteered their time to come together to sing at our annual benefit concert. The majority of the proceeds will go towards the purchase of a new van that will be used to serve the needs of our community.

Special thanks to our performers: the Vancouver Japanese Language School Choir, the Ensemble Bouquet, Ayako Komaki and her accompanist Munekazu Shiya, and the Tonari Gumi Singers conducted by Kumiko Naito and accompanied by Hiroko Sheppard.

One volunteer did all of the great creative design work for our concert programs, tickets, donation forms and posters; as well as authoring our concert promotion articles in Oops, Fraser and the Bulletin, an extra special thanks to Miki Hayakaze.

And of course all of the other volunteers and Tonari Gumi staff who looked after our parking, reception, refreshments, gift draw and clean-up, thank you for your time and efforts as well!

And lastly, this hugely successful day would not have been possible at all, were it not for the committed efforts of our Christmas Concert Organizing Committee: Midori Seo, Chris Nakahori, Sanae Moteki, Yasuko Yamazaki and Mariko Fukushima. So Many Thanks to You All!

This event is a shining example of the Tonari Gumi Heart of: COMMUNITY Spirit, COMMUNITY Caring and COMMUNITY Support; and the Body that holds this Heart are the many VOLUNTEERS who donate their time to help with our programs, services and special events like our Christmas Concert.

Merry Christmas and the Best of the Holiday Season to Everyone!


Another Successful Bazaar!
_MG_9203-1500Volunteers are the heart and soul of Tonari Gumi, and their dedication to our organization is probably not any more evident than their efforts that go into our annual bazaar. The many hours preparing all of the delicious food; organizing and set-up of the event; the sales of food, gifts and kimonos; manning the doors and clean-up are all done by our volunteers who contribute their personal time knowing that this fundraising event will help support the service needs of our community.

Of these many volunteers, we would like to recognize and thank the following people who have been giving to our organization and community for many years: Mr. Harry Kishi probably most noted for his delicious saba-zushi; Mrs. Yoshie Omura and her team for making our renowned manju; Yukio Moizumi for his sushi making expertise and Mrs. Shizuko Mikurube who makes the best chirashi-zushi you will ever try. _MG_9213-1500Their help, knowledge and experience have contributed greatly to a lot of the traditional food made for and sold at the bazaar this, and every year.

A special thank you to Canfisco and Ocean Brands Seafood Co. for their donations as the seafood delicacies we prepare for the bazaar and our meal program would not be possible without their ongoing support.

And of course, thank you to everyone who attended this year and we look forward to seeing you at Tonari Gumi for a visit, program or one of our fundraising events in 2016.

On behalf of our members, volunteers, staff and Board of Directors, have a safe and happy holiday season.
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