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Learn about Vancouver Island’s diverse history – and why we don’t know about it.learn more
UNCOVERING THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF VANCOUVER ISLAND
THROUGH THE LENS OF JAPANESE PHOTOGRAPHER SENJIRO HAYASHI.
Hayashi Studio follows the diverse lives that came to a small town on Vancouver Island in the 1900's and Senjiro Hayashi, the Japanese photographer who took their photos. Hayashi used his lens to document every race, class and gender. During internment many of his photos disappear, some hidden in family attics, others used to make a greenhouse. Almost a century later the photos were found and exhibited, showcasing a piece of Pacific Northwest History rarely seen, that of the diverse and racialized.
Hayashi's photos show us just how much is missing from our history books and leads us to ask, how many other towns, without photographers like Hayashi have unarchived, erased histories that we will never know?
*The filmmakers would like to acknowledge that since the release of the film we have learned that the 'bat boy' in the photo at min 10:11 is not Douglas' uncle Tats Aoki. The two bat boys in the photo are Susumu Nagai and Tatsumi Iwasa, both members of the Cumberland Japanese community at the time. Our understanding of history is always evolving, and as we learn more about Cumberland and the Japanese community new information will always come to light. This story is deeply important to us and we will continue to strive to share this history as accurately as we can.
In Hayashi Studio we investigate Senjiro Hayashi's photos through five chapters: The Anthropologist, The Curator, The Subject, The Descendants and finally The Photos themselves. Laura Cuthbert, our anthropologist, first tells us of her trips to Cumberland, looking for history of Chinese mining and communities, realizing that most of the photos you see of Asian miners in BC were taken in this one spot, Cumberland, and investigating why. Next we meet Grace, who curated the photos, with her research and work the photos traveled across Japan and North America, showcasing, not only a Japanese photographer, but all of the diverse communities in Cumberland. Next we meet Douglas Sadao Aoki, the grandson of two of Hayashi's favourite subjects, Mr. & Mrs. Aoki who ran the Cumberland Japanese Language School, we bring Douglas to the Japanese Graveyard and Townsite, and then to where the school where his grandparents lived and worked, where his father grew up, once stood. There he reflects on coming to a place with such meaning for his family, for the first time. We then meet Hayashi's descendants and the descendants of another photographer who took over the business, Mr. Matsubuchi. Lastly we connect our subjects with the glass plate negatives and reflect on a past we so rarely get to learn about the 60 years of Japanese Canadian life before internment.