This yokan cutter was used by the Yamake family in their bakery. Title: Yokan Cutter. Collection: Yamake Family Collection. Repository: Nikkei National Museum. Accession Number: 1997.9.10. Year: circa 1920.
By Mandy Choie
BURNABY — At just five centimetres in length, this cow- or bull-shaped metal yokan cutter was used for cutting yokan (羊羹), a thick jellied Japanese dessert made out of red bean paste, agar, and sugar. This cutter served as a tool to create more decorative servings of the sweet treat.
This yokan cutter is made from a thin metal loop, shaped by bending and creasing its sharp edge. The non-sharp side has a lip that acts as padding for the hand as it makes its imprint. This yokan cutter is part of a collection of baking tools and drawings used by the Yamake family.
The family’s patriarch, Junzo Yamake, owned a bakery called Kasuga-kashiten at 359 Powell Street from the mid-1920s to 1941. While many of the Yamake’s tools were made by local sheet metal shops, this tool, and the other delicate yokan cutters in the Yamake Family Collection, were likely purchased directly from Japan.
Junzo, his wife (Hatsuye), and their three children (Ikuko, Fusako, and Hiroshi) lived in a suite above the bakery. According to custodian case files, Junzo was told to liquidate his “chattels,” all personal possessions, including his confectionary shop/home in April of 1942. In May 1942, Junzo and his family were forcibly uprooted to Notch Hill, B.C., and later Kamloops, B.C.
Explore more of the Yamake Family Collection and other treasures from the NNM at www.nikkeimuseum.org.
You can also learn more about the dispossession and forcible uprooting of Japanese Canadians in the Landscapes of Injustice Archive, loi.uvic.ca/archive.
THIS ARTICLE WAS REPRINTED FROM NIKKEI VOICE’S NOVEMBER 2021 ISSUE. SUBSCRIBE OR DONATE TODAY TO HELP SUPPORT OUR NEWSPAPER.