Tsutae and Hanako Sato fonds


general material designation


[textual record, graphic materials; cartographic materials]


4.81 meters






scope and content


The Tsutae and Hanako Sato fonds consists of nineteen series of files pertaining to the personal and business lives of Tsutae and Hanako Sato. The fonds ranges from the arrival of Tsutae Sato in Canada in the early 1900s with his involvement as Principal of the Vancouver Japanese Language School, to the internment of Tsutae and Hanako Sato during World War II and Tsutae's work for the Vancouver Japanese School of Languages Maintenance Association, to the reestablishment of the Vancouver Japanese Language School in the 1950s, to the activities conducted by Tsutae and Hanako Sato after their retirement in 1966.





Tsutae Sato was born in 1891 in the small village of Tanagura machi, Fukushima-ken, Japan. Mr. Sato attended the primary school of the village, followed by studies in Chinese classics at a private school. A short term Normal School opened and he continued his education there. After graduating at the age of sixteen, Tsutae found employment as a teacher at a local primary school. He only taught at this school for one year when he decided to pursue his own academic career by enrolling at Aoyama 師範学校 Teacher Training School (or Normal College) in Tokyo where he studied for four years from April 1909 to March 1913. After graduation, he again worked as a teacher, this time at Shibuya Primary School for four years. While teaching there he received an invitation for employment from the Vancouver Japanese Language School which he accepted and arrived in Vancouver in 1917. Tsutae was the fifth principal of the school. There were about 150 students registered at the Vancouver school when Mr. Sato took over as principal. However, the enrollment rapidly increased especially after 1936 to over 1,000 in 1941, when the school was ordered by the Canadian government to close in December 1941.



Mr. Sato's wife, Hanako, was born in 1901 in Wakayama-ken Japan, but moved to Tokyo when she was only a year old. Then her family moved to Niigata when she was about kindergarten age, and a few years later to Toyama. Her father was a medical doctor, and the family moved with him from one city to another as he frequently relocated. Finally, however, the family settled down in Tokyo. Hanako was a graduate of Tokyo Women's Teacher Training School (current Tokyo Gakugei University) and, like Mr. Sato, taught at a Primary school in Tokyo. In 1921, Hanako came to Canada as a teacher on the invitation of the Japanese Language School of Vancouver, four years after Tsutae arrived. Tsutae and Hanako had known each other and they were married just prior to Hanako's departure for Canada in 1921.



As part of their accomplishments, Tsutae and Hanako were responsible for upgrading and improving the quality offered by the Japanese Language School. They were also the ones primarily responsible for the establishment of the Japanese Canadian Language Schools Federation, as well as for the addition of a larger school building.


The Japanese Language Schools Federations functioned until 1941 when the Pacific War broke out. It fostered a peaceful and harmonious relationship between Japanese schools, thus strengthening the Japanese community as a whole.



During the forced uprooting, Mr. and Mrs. Sato spent eleven years at Lacombe, Alberta, from 1942 to 1952. During this time they managed to travel to practically all of the places where their former students resettled in order to comfort them and encourage them.



In 1952, the Satos returned to Vancouver and resumed their roles as the Principal and teacher of the Vancouver Japanese Language School, until 1966, when they retired.



Mr. Sato's contribution to the society of Canada as a whole was recognized by the Canadian government on July 1978, when he was named a member of the Order of Canada.



Hanako Sato died in Vancouver, May 4, 1983; Tsutae Sato three weeks later on May 23, 1983.








Nikkei National Museum