Hayashi Studios
2018 Documentary

Hayashi Studios

The hidden history of Cumberland, British Columbia as documented by a Japanese photographer at the turn of the century.



Pitch video


In Hayashi Studio we follow the diverse lives that came to a small town on Vancouver Island in the 1900's and Senjiro Hayashi the Japanese photographer who took their photos. The photographer Senjiro Hayashi used his lens to document every race, class, gender and age in Cumberland. During internment many of his photos disappear, some hidden in family attics, others used to make a greenhouse. Almost a century later Grace Eiko Thomson worked with the Cumberland Archives and Nikkei Centre to find these photos and create an exhibition of them and other Japanese Photographers of the time. In our documentary we will meet Grace and uncover her journey, Doug Aoki who's grandparents, father and uncles were photographed by Hayashi, and uncover this under and unknown history of British Columbia.

The team

Welcome to team Hayashi Studios!

Profile picture of Kaayla Whachell
Kaayla WhachellProducer, Camera Operator
Profile picture of Kevin Harding
Kevin HardingCamera Operator


Interview Roster

Grace Eiko Thompson
Grace Eiko Thompson

Grace Eiko Thomson, curator, historian and a social activist, was the founding director-curator of the Japanese Canadian National Museum, (now Nikkei National Museum) in Burnaby, BC. Born in Steveston’s Japanese Fishermen’s Hospital, she was raised in the Powell Street neighbourhood of Vancouver until her family was forced to leave in 1942. They settled in the self-supporting incarceration site of Minto, and in 1945 moved to Manitoba, eventually settling in Winnipeg, where she graduated high school, then business college. She worked as legal secretary to support her parents’ re-settlement.

Laura Cuthbert
Laura Cuthbert

Laura is an anthropologist. with a deep love and knowledge of British Columbia's history. She founded and runs Populous Maps a timeline, map and non-profit unarchiving the hidden history of BC. Laura is committed to researching and sharing stories that allow us to understand the whole history of British Columbia, beyond the Dominant Narrative. Laura's Haida/British background shapes her to look at the last 4,000 years on this land and how settlers have changed it over the last 100.

Kevin Harding
Kevin Harding

Kevin wants his photography to tell stories and start conversations. He believes that photography has a capacity to to connect people, change minds, and make differences in the world. Kevin uses silver gelatin photography with a camera much like Hayashi's cameras. Kevin will teach us the technical process of silver gelatin photography giving us insight into Hayashi's process. Working with our team he will also photograph our subjects on glass negatives, just like Hayashi's.

Doug Aoki
Doug Aoki

Doug's grandparents, uncles and father were photographed by Hayashi in their time living in Cumberland. Doug's parents never moved back to the coast line. Instead his father Ted carried on teaching, eventually at the University of Alberta where Dough followed in his footsteps. Doug's son Alex is now an [actor who performed in the play Crossing Boarders, written Velina Hasu Houston and Alex McSweeney. Joy Kogawa came to watch it and support Alex, as they have worked together on a previous project.

Production Design

Before electric lights were in every house hold windows and skylights were necessary for photographers to capture their subjects. Hayashi had a skylight made for his studio once he realized how little light he had to work with. In our portrait series we will play with a similar lighting set up, to create similar photos.
In going through Hayashi
Hayashi's studio has a beautiful Grecian backdrop which can be seen in many of his portraits in our production design we will also be recreating is backdrop to shoot our subjects in front of.
As you scan through Hayashi's photos, you notice a few key props. His plant, his carpet and his chair. We will recreate his studio, keeping as authentic as possible. Here we will interview our roster of subjects and with the help of our silver gelatin photographer Kevin, photograph our subjects. Photo of Mr. Wamoto.