A brush with Royalty

Well, the Emperor and Empress of Japan came to Canada on a state visit and guess who got to have an audience.  My parents that’s who.  This is a cool little article that the Campbell River Mirror wrote with a few mistakes.  My dad is not a retired logger, he’s a retired draftsman and the reporter got our winery name wrong.  Oh well.

On another note we are now available at the Heriot Bay Store on Quadra Island!  Cool huh!  As well, the owner of Pair Bistro in Vancouver also came and bought a case of our Ortega and took it home so he can serve it in his restaurant!  Also very cool.   Below is the article from the Mirror about my parents.  Enjoy.  (It’s been an eventful year for the Ogasawara’s).

A brush with royalty

Tak (left) and Mitzi Ogasawara enjoyed an extended visit with the Emperor and Empress of Japan.

Grant Warkentin/The Mirror


By Grant Warkentin – Campbell River Mirror

Published: July 14, 2009 3:00 PM

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What could the emperor of Japan find in common with a retired Campbell River logger?

Fishing, of course.

“The emperor asked us about Campbell River, asked us about what’s here. I told him it’s the salmon capital of the world,” says Tak Ogasawara.

The topic caught the interest of the emperor, a marine biologist, Tak says, still beaming as he recalls the visit.

Tak and his wife Mitzi met Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan on Saturday. They were invited to an exclusive meet-and-greet with the royal couple at Victoria’s Government House, along with 40 other Japanese-Canadian couples from Vancouver Island and the Yukon. Although the visit was formal and followed strict protocol (women had to dress conservatively, men were not allowed to wear black or purple because those colours are reserved for funerals) the

atmosphere was relaxed.

“They came to us and talked to everyone,” says Tak. “They were very talkative, actually, we were quite surprised.”

His wife, Mitzi, nods.

“We talked quite a bit,” she says. “Usually we (the Japanese people) don’t have any contact with them so this is a very rare opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The emperor and empress occasionally visit with their people in Japan, but the Ogasawaras say with millions vying for the opportunity, chances would be slim an average Japanese citizen would get to chat with royalty. However, royalty came to them. Because the Ogasawaras are prominent members of Campbell River’s small Japanese-Canadian community, the royal entourage asked for the couple by name when several months ago, the Japanese consul-general phoned the Ogasawaras and invited them to the event.

Expecting a brief visit, the couple was thrilled when the meet-and-greet stretched into several hours.

“They could have gone to Butchart Gardens, but they wanted to visit with the ordinary people,” Mitzi says.

Tak spoke at length with the emperor, telling him about how he used to work as a logger in the Woss area after coming here from Japan in 1970. He told the emperor that a pavilion built for Expo ‘70 in Osaka, Japan was built from wood harvested from the Nimpkish River valley where he used to work.

“He remembered that,” Tak says.

They also talked about Campbell River’s sister city relationship with Ishikari, Japan, which has allowed the two cities to exchange culture, knowledge and gifts every year for the past 25 years.

And they couldn’t resist mentioning their daughter with pride, says Mitzi. Jill Ogasawara and her husband Ben McGuffie operate the SouthEnd Farms winery on Quadra Island. Tak and Mitzi brought a bottle of Bara (Japanese for ‘rose’) 2008 to Victoria; however, the emperor and empress couldn’t take it.

“They were not allowed to receive any gifts, so we gave it to the consul-general. He was delighted,” Mitzi says.

As the event ended, the emperor and empress had a few words for the Japanese-Canadians to bring back to their communities.

“They said, ‘tell them to take care of themselves and enjoy their lives,’” Tak says.

The royal couple returned to Japan yesterday. The visit was Akihito’s first since he visited as Crown Prince in 1953, touring several Canadian cities before attending the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Japanese emperor is the last emperor in the world. Some nations still retain kings and queens, but only Japan’s head of state is called an emperor.

The Japanese emperor is the oldest hereditary royal line in the world. Japanese emperors can trace their lineage back to 660 BC.

The Japanese emperor is a figurehead unifying the Japanese people, connecting them with their past and acting as a sort of ceremonial symbol. He does not have any real political power.


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