The Vancouver Asahi story told by one of their own in Historica Canada’s new Heritage Minute
TORONTO – FEBRUARY 20, 2019 – As Kaye Kaminishi recalls, “On the streets we weren’t welcome, but on the field, we were the Asahi – Vancouver’s champions.” Kaminishi, the sole surviving member of the Japanese-Canadian baseball team, narrates Historica Canada’s latest Heritage Minute. The 91st installment in the series tells the story of the Vancouver Asahi, who played for 27 years until the Government of Canada ordered Japanese Canadians interned during the Second World War.
The Asahi got their start in 1914, and quickly championed a style of play called ‘brainball,’ which utilized bunts, squeeze plays and stolen bases to counter the power hitting style employed by most North American teams. Known for their sportsmanship and fair play approach, the Asahi won many league championships, and toured the United States and Japan.
In 1942, after Canada declared war on Japan, the players were among the 22,000 Japanese Canadians moved to internment camps in the interior of British Columbia. While interned, the players formed baseball teams, and eventually an inter-camp league. Many of those interned remember these games as a bright spot that helped bring joy into this dark period in Canadian history.
“Each Heritage Minute tells a different story – some highlight the impressive achievements of Canadians and some encourage reflection on injustices of the past,” said Anthony Wilson-Smith, President and CEO of Historica Canada. “This Minute does both. We hope the story of the Asahi leads more Canadians to explore the lesser-known stories in our history.”
The “Vancouver Asahi” Heritage Minute can be shared and embedded through this link.
This Heritage Minute was produced by Historica Canada and Point Blank Creative and filmed in Hope and Vancouver, BC. It was written by Point Blank Creative and directed by Scooter Corkle (Hollow in the Land). Historica Canada consulted with community organizations including the National Association of Japanese Canadians, the Nikkei National Museum and the Tashme Historical Society. Author Joy Kogawa provides the end narration.
The Heritage Minutes are made possible through funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage. The “Vancouver Asahi” Heritage Minute was additionally supported through the Vancouver Foundation: Second Generation Fund & Howard C. Green Memorial Fund as well as by the Hamber Foundation. Technical support for the “Vancouver Asahi Heritage Minute” was also provided by SIM International, who provided film equipment for the production.
Historica Canada offers programs that you can use to explore, learn, and reflect on our history, and what it means to be Canadian.