Fumiko and Kimiko Saito

Nikkei (neek-kay)

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

Facing Racism


Shut out of most occupations, considered neither citizens nor persons, Nikkei women were among the most entrepreneurial in the community. They operated businesses and boarding houses, and set up schools for their daughters to study dressmaking. By the mid-1930s, there were nearly ninety Nikkei dressmakers in Vancouver.


Fumiko and Kimiko Saito in front of their dressmaking shop at 818 Smythe Street, Vancouver, ca. 1940. Kimiko Nasu Collection. Japanese Canadian National Museum.