Chiyoko Izumi

Region: Hamilton Ontario
Generation: Nisei
Vancouver British Columbia


Chiyoko Izumi is an odori dance instructor in Hamilton, Ontario, who has been teaching odori for over 70 years. She began to study odori at age 10 in Vancouver, two years before she was sent to Japan to care for her sick grandmother. Izumi returned to Canada after her grandmother’s death, and married her husband Harry. The couple moved to Hamilton in 1944, and soon Izumi began teaching odori again at the request of local community members. Classes were first held in homes and at the Buddhist temple halls, and later at the Canadian Japanese Cultural Centre of Hamilton.

Izumi’s dance group, the Suzuran Odori Group, performed at Expo 67 in Montreal, and were a regular feature in local Canada Day parade floats from the 1950s to the 1970s. Izumi toured the country with the Nikka Festival dancers in 1977 during the Japanese Canadian centennial, even performing for Queen Elizabeth II in Ottawa. ‘I’m the happiest when I’m dancing,’ Izumi has said. ‘It gives me peace.’

Chiyoko Izumi received the Ontario Senior Achievement Award in October 2010 for 70 years of teaching odori and her cultural contribution to the Japanese Community. At 96 years old, she is still directing odori at the CJCC in Hamilton.