The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, founded in 1963, is one of the largest of its kind in the world. With a mandate to promote Japanese culture and heritage, the centre offers a broad spectrum of contemporary and traditional programming: film screenings, festivals and holiday celebrations, martial arts, performances, art exhibitions, and language courses, as well as many other cultural courses including Ikebana (flower arranging), Shodo (calligraphy), Odori (dance), Taiko (drumming), and Chado (tea ceremony).
The original building was designed by Canadian architect Raymond Moriyama. The proportions, landscaping and details used a traditional Japanese style, while the building materials are modern. It was designed to honour the place of Japanese-Canadians in Canada. The architecture also evokes the experiences of those Japanese-Canadians incarcerated during WWII; the 2 storey lattice windows in the main hall are reminiscent of prison bars, and rain water is directed off the roof using chains attached to stones on the grounds. The JCCC outgrew this structure and sold it in 2001, to be redesigned in 2003 by Moriyama and repurposed as the Noor Cultural Centre. My parents considered the original building for their wedding.
The current building was a former printing plant. At 114,000 square feet it was redesigned by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects in 2002. Other notable works by Bruce Kuwabara include the Gardiner Museum, The National Ballet School of Canada, TIFF Bell Lightbox, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, and the Design Exchange.
I attended the Natsu Matsuri and Obon festival a number of years ago (a beautiful celebration of summer with games, food, and performances). Last year I was invited to participate in a Pecha Kucha presentation with other Japanese Canadian artists and designers from the community, and this fall I will be included in a group exhibition titled Transformation Ochawan where the participating artists are required to make a piece using a provided rice bowl. I don't often make it to the JCCC because it is quite a distance to travel from downtown (east of Donmills and north of Eglinton), however, this past weekend my family was in town and luckily they could take me there to pick up my Ochawan for this upcoming project. While there, we toured the building and watched a bit of Kendo in the martial arts wing. I asked my dad (who is nisei, second generation) to pose for a photo.