There are strong economic links that unite Japan and Canada, but it’s also important to consider the tremendous influence that cultural connections can play in bringing the people of the two countries together.
In this issue, along with insights into how business is helping to strengthen bilateral ties, there are three stories that show the important ways that Canadians in Japan are helping to build bridges — in sports, literature and culture.
Our cover feature gives us a look inside the newest team in Asia League Ice Hockey, the Yokohama Grits. They’re unique in the league because, in addition to their athletic careers, all of their players hold down full-time jobs or are full-time students. It’s an approach to encouraging athletes to look at their careers on and off the ice, and it’s already getting attention.
For their first coach, the Grits couldn’t have made a better choice than Mike Kennedy. As we see in our conversation with him, Kennedy’s playing experience in the NHL and overseas, as well as his own time in the business world, helps him provide advice to his players not just about the game, but about the game of life.
Although the challenge of dealing with racism and bullying can be complex, explaining the issue to children doesn’t need to be. This is a lesson that we learn from Kinota Braithwaite, who was inspired to write his first children’s book as a result of his biracial daughter having to face bullying at her elementary school because she looked different from her classmates.
Braithwaite comes from a family that has roots in the African-Canadian civil rights movement, and he brings this legacy to bear on books that can be enjoyed by young and old, and those who speak English and Japanese.
Japan is a country that is known for its rich and profound cultural traditions, which have been passed down over the centuries. Perhaps one of the most iconic of these traditions is the tea ceremony, which possesses a rich tapestry of nuances that can take decades — if not a lifetime — to master. And it’s quite rare for one of those masters to come from another country. Randy Channell Soei happens to be one of those masters.
First drawn to Japan by the martial arts, Channell was exposed to the way of tea as a means of striking a balance in his training. But it turned into a journey of its own, which he continues to artfully walk to this day.
As always, we thank you for your readership, and best wishes for the coming spring.