Vancouver Japanese Language School - Japanese Hall - Historic Places Days

Vancouver Japanese Language School – Japanese Hall

Vancouver, British Columbia
Cultural Heritage Centre
487 Alexander Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Get directions
Office Hours : Monday - Friday 9-3pm. Walking Tours available on Saturdays May - September at 10am and 1230pm.

Located in Historic Powell Street (Paueru Gai) in the heart of the Downtown Eastside, VJLS-JH is a National Historic Site. Overcoming racism, social injustice, displacement and dispossession, through the miraculous efforts of the Japanese Canadian community, we as an organization have rebuilt and evolved to become a living symbol of community resilience and strength. VJLS-JH now stands as one of the only properties that was returned to Japanese Canadians after the WWII Internment and Dispossession. Today, we continue to educate Japanese language, culture, run a childcare centre, and have transitioned into developing heritage and community programming.

Our History:

Founded in 1906 and expanding to this Art Deco building in 1928, this educational institution was the first and largest Japanese language school in Canada before the Second World War.  In 1919, it became a second language school, where children attended language classes after regular public school from Monday to Friday.  Designed by Sharp and Thompson Architects, this building was planned and built by the community in 1928 at a cost of $40,000 to expand the organization’s role to also serve as a community centre – ‘Japanese Hall’.  After Canada declared war on Japan in 1941, the federal government forcibly relocated over 22,000 Japanese Canadians to a minimum of 100 miles away from the coast to Internment camps in the interior of BC.  Seizing their homes, properties and businesses, the government also closed all 50 existing Japanese language schools in B.C., including this school, which had over 1000 students at the time. Throughout the Internment period, which ended in 1949 community leaders fought to prevent the sale of this building, reclaimed ownership in 1952 and reopened the school in 1953.


  • Family-Friendly
  • Guided Tour
  • National Historic Site
  • Washrooms
  • Wheelchair Access

Fun Facts

It is not common knowledge that prior to the Incarceration, Displacement and Dispossession of 1942, the Powell Street corridor was once the home to 8000 Japanese Canadians and over 400 Japanese owned businesses. Today, there is an abundance of remaining history and architecture that tells the story of a community that once thrived in this unique area of Vancouver! The Historic Powell Street Area is loaded with history and we have walking tours to prove it!


487 Alexander Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Get directions


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