Sewing school

Nikkei (neek-kay)

Japanese term meaning ‘of Japanese descent,’ referring to Japanese immigrants and their descendants.

picture bride

A type of an arranged marriage where a woman in Japan, often for financial reasons and with a desire to go abroad, would marry a Japanese man working in Canada after an exchange of pictures, without ever having met the man. Most picture brides arrived in Canada in the 1910s. The system ended in 1928 due to immigration restrictions.

Powell Street, Vancouver


A year after the 1907 anti-Asian riot in Chinatown and on Powell Street, Canada and Japan made a “Gentlemen's Agreement” limiting Japanese immigration. Because many men in the community couldn’t travel to Japan, the “picture bride” system developed. Women were integral to Nikkei businesses, running rooming houses and shops.


Sewing school in Vancouver, B.C., ca. 1920. L-R: Mrs. Ujishima (later Takahashi), Mr. Murata, Masaye Sato, [unidentified], [unidentified]. Ken and Rose Kutsukake Collection. Japanese Canadian National Museum 94/70.006.