ESL Students and Japanese influence in Vancouver

One thing I really wanted to figure out when I started this blog is the why and who behind Vancouver’s vast Japanese influence and culture. Is it Japanese immigrants as the Vancouver Sun article I reviewed last week insinuated? Is it an increase in the popularity of Japanese pop culture among a demographic of Canadians or ‘Westerners’? The video above poses an answer I’d never considered before: Japanese ESL students. According to the video, which is a clip from a CBC segment from the mid 2000’s called Culture Shock, “every year, an estimated ten thousand young Japanese students, looking to learn English live temporarily in BC”. The video notes that these students are creating a “new Asian presence” in Vancouver. The video, which came out in 2007, brings up an interesting perspective as to why there is such a high market for Japanese products and companies in Vancouver’s consumer culture.

One Japanese company the video discusses specifically is the Konbiniya Japan Centre on Robson street. Konbiniya sells Japanese meals, candy, snack foods, music, books, movies, technology, toys and home products. It features an arcade, a Japanese hair salon and a Japanese computer cafe. The CBC reporter calls Konbiniya “the home away from home” for the Japanese youth of Vancouver. Judging by the Japanese students featured in the video, I think it’s fair to say that Konbiniya is authentic to Japanese society, imitating to a high degree the consumer culture of the ESL student’s home towns in Japan. This is an interesting company to research in terms of it’s routes to Vancouver’s Japanese culture because of the unique demographic of Japanese people that shop there. Below is the link to Konbniya’s website.

Until next week,


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