The “Nikkei Hockey” program was initiated in 2000 following an International Midget Tournament in Richmond, BC and an organizing committee accepted an invitation from the Japanese Ice Hockey Federation (JIHF) to take a BC lower mainland team of Japanese Canadian boys to play in a tournament in Kushiro. The trip was a success on many levels. Along with playing elite-level hockey, players born in Canada were introduced to the Japanese side of their identity while bonds within the Japanese-Canadian community were strengthened.
In 2002, the organizing committee took a second trip with players from BC and Alberta to Kushiro to play in the All-Japan Midget Tournament which proved equally successful. In 2004 players from Saskatchewan and Ontario were added and the team travelled to Tomakomai to play in the JIHF Japan Midget training camp (National U-18 and U-20). After 2004 the organizing committee decided that more emphasis should be placed on the cultural aspect of the trip and since then teams (2006-2012) have being playing against the top High School teams from across Japan. The decision allowed for increased travel within Japan to play against teams from Tokyo, Hachinohe, Tomakomai, Kushiro, and Sapporro. The change in the program also allowed family and friends to accompany the players and participate in many of the planned activities.
Since 2000 many members of past teams have gone back to Japan after their hockey trip to learn more about Japan, to work in Japan, to play hockey, or to continue with studies in Japan. Many of these young men are becoming leaders in creating and maintain ties to the Japanese culture.