In 1981, a group of local citizens of Japanese descent got together at the Tamagawa University campus in Cedar to discuss the advent of a local Japanese-Canadian Cultural Society. In those initial meetings were Keiko Bottomley, Hiroko Crick, Stan Fukawa, Carol Hayashi, Shigeko Hayashi, Ichio Miki, Jean Kitigawa, Helen Koga, Tomoko Okada, Walter Shimozawa, Mike Yoshida and Tamagawa representatives John Tanimoto and Toshi Yamaji. From these discussions, the Central Vancouver Island Japanese-Canadian Cultural Society (CVIJCCS) was founded in July 1985 as a social and cultural activity group mainly for Japanese Canadians in the Nanaimo area. Its constitution and bylaws left membership open to anyone who was interested in these activities and that inclusive philosophy still holds true today.
The first President was Stan Fukawa who carried the organization on his back from 1985 until the late 90’s when he and wife Mas moved to Vancouver. From 2002, Eiko Eby has served as the President to current day. In the period between Stan and Eiko, Brian Sugiyama, Hiroko Crick, Mas Iwasawa, and Vern Yoshida all completed a short period as President.
In the 1980’s, the Society decided that the formal name, Central Vancouver Island Japanese-Canadian Cultural Society, was too long and boring, although descriptively fairly accurate. Makoto Fukui, one of the charter members, suggested the name Seven Potatoes because in the Japanese language Nana = Seven and Imo = Potatoe(s) thereby using the city’s name Nanaimo in its translation.
The CVIJCCS became officially incorporated under the Society Act in 1989.
In the early years, there were approximately 60 families who were members. And although this number waivered throughout the years, the membership is back up to 59 families.