Accomplishment

Because baseball played such a big part of people’s lives in that era, the Asahis were visible, successful figures for both the Nikkei and wider community in Vancouver and around the Pacific Northwest. As fan Frank Moritsugu recalls, the team “made it possible for the rest of us Nisei to hold our head higher.”

Integration

Without the right to vote, and barred from certain professions, sport and education were areas where Nikkei could feel like they belonged in the larger society. Asahi players participated in the Danwakai, a youth discussion group formed to exchange current opinions, and the Gakuyukai, an organization of Vancouver Japanese Language School graduates.

In the loop

A few sports teams of Asian descent in Canada played in championship competition. The Chinese Students soccer team and the India Grass Hockey Club were British Columbia mainland champions in the 1930s. For the Asahis and their fans, continued baseball success helped speed up t Read More
Accomplishment

Because baseball played such a big part of people’s lives in that era, the Asahis were visible, successful figures for both the Nikkei and wider community in Vancouver and around the Pacific Northwest. As fan Frank Moritsugu recalls, the team “made it possible for the rest of us Nisei to hold our head higher.”

Integration

Without the right to vote, and barred from certain professions, sport and education were areas where Nikkei could feel like they belonged in the larger society. Asahi players participated in the Danwakai, a youth discussion group formed to exchange current opinions, and the Gakuyukai, an organization of Vancouver Japanese Language School graduates.

In the loop

A few sports teams of Asian descent in Canada played in championship competition. The Chinese Students soccer team and the India Grass Hockey Club were British Columbia mainland champions in the 1930s. For the Asahis and their fans, continued baseball success helped speed up the acculturation of youth into the mainstream.

Regard

Sports news coverage of the Asahis was generally balanced and fair. The Asahis’ competitors respected them both as a team and as individual players. The Arrows semi-pro team signing Roy Yamamura showed that Asahi talent was judged top notch.

Sutoraiku, boru, seifu, auto

“Meaningful conversation about politics, government, philosophy and religion was difficult between issei parent and nisei offspring. Perhaps it was impossible,” observes Roy Ito. “Baseball was one subject everyone could discuss … The box scores were in the Japanese language papers … Asahi were a focal point, the pride of the community.”

Recognition

Thousands of mainstream spectators rooted for the team, despite the openly racist world they lived in. This unstinting admiration was enough to create a feeling, for all who cheered on the Asahi, of leveling the playing field … for a time.

© National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre 2007. All Rights Reserved.

Commemorative portrait

Commemorative portrait of the Asahi championship team and their supporters at Powell Street Grounds, 1926.

Main Studio. Courtesy of the Kitagawa Family
1926
© Courtesy of the Kitagawa Family


Audio - Accomplishments

There’s a saying, yamato damashi, which refers to Japanese spirit. And, ah, you do the darnedest, you know, your very best. No matter what you do, not just baseball. But, ah, we were brought up on that sort of spirit.

CBC Radio
1993
© CBC Radio


Audio - Integration

So, I went to a public school Strathcona, till 3 o’clock. And 4:30 to 5:30, I went to Japanese school, every day.

CBC Radio
1993
© CBC Radio


Snapshot of Dominion Day sports

Detail of snapshot of Dominion Day sports event in front of the Vancouver Japanese Language School, 1919.

Courtesy of the Kitagawa Family
1919
© Courtesy of the Kitagawa Family


Athletic Park

Detail of fans at Athletic Park, Vancouver, 1924.

BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum
1924
250.7b.
© BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum


Audio - Recognition

And, ah, my father remembers the manager of the other team. He got so irate because the Caucasian people rooting for the Asahis and telling them to get two runs in, you know, on a bunt, and he got so livid, but – (laughs), but that’s the ways things were

CBC Radio
1993
© CBC Radio


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Identify and discuss the social conditions of the Nikkei in Canadian society;
  • Describe the influence of Asahi on Canadian population;
  • Explain the positive aspects of such a sport organization;
  • Deduct, from the information given in the exhibition, an overview of Canadian society before the Second World War.

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