The Right to REMAIN in Vancouver’s Nihonmachi/Downtown Eastside

by Jeff Masuda with Aaron Franks

Originally published 11 March, 2014 online and in print in The Bulletin: a journal of Japanese-Canadian community, history + culture


JPVillageSketchWhat’s in a name? This is a question being posed by a team of Vancouver-based community leaders and university researchers that has been actively engaged in conversations with Downtown Eastside (DTES) residents, both past and present, about their experiences of human rights in the neighbourhood.

Many readers of The Bulletin will have heard that low-income residents in this area are being evicted and displaced from the neighbourhood at an increasing pace as rising land values have prompted developers to upgrade the many affordable, if often derelict, buildings into condominiums. Most readers will also know that this neighbourhood includes the area that Japanese Canadians have called Powell Street,Powell Grounds, Nihonmachi,  or Poweru gai –  names going all the way back to the beginning of the 20th century.


Our purpose is to try to understand and to harness the power of names and naming as a way to support the right of DTES inhabitants to remainin their neighbourhood. The point here is that no matter what name this neighbourhood is referred to by, there are powerful emotions and histories that are brought to mind….

….to read further, please visit the “Revitalizing Japantown?” website at, or The Bulletin at



Part 1…