More than 100 years ago, an extravagant man from a tiny village in rural Miyagi had a big idea – one that would shape the future of his entire community.
This man, called Zinzaburo, had had extraordinary or rather eccentric ideas since his childhood. One day, he went to Vancouver in Canada and saw an incredible scene. Incredible for Japanese people who eat raw salmon eggs, at least.
A Canadian canning factory on Frazer River was throwing away salmon eggs into the river, when canning salmon meat.
Zinzaburo had an idea: he would export these eggs to Japan, where salted salmon eggs were the nation’s favorite treat and sold well at high prices.
He rented an island (Lion island) on the Frazer River for salting salmon eggs, which required a large workforce.. He thought of bringing his friends from his own village, who had little means of supporting themselves, after years of famine.
Venturous trip to Canada
Zinzaburo needed several dozen laborers for his project, and wanted to start his business right away. But the Japanese government would not allow such a large number of young men to go to Canada, for military reasons.
He could not wait years for Japanese people to be able to enjoy good quality Canadian salmon eggs. The only option was illegal migration. He bought a second-hand boat and planned a voyage to Vancouver across the Pacific Ocean….
This is a true story
More than 100 people from our village went to Canada, and some of them stayed even after World War II. The descendants of these villagers, now Canadian citizens, visit our village in order to discover their roots.