James Nishikawa came from Fort William, Ontario, to study architecture at the University of Manitoba. Coincidentally, he was in the same year as another notable Japanese Canadian architect, James Yamahshita of IKOY. Nishikawa graduated in 1963, and went on to work fo E. J. Gaboury Architects, eventually becoming an associate.
One of James' first major projects was the redevelopment of the town centre and housing complex of Churchill, Manitoba, during the 1970s. Gaboury Préfontaine Perry was hired in 1971, alongside Number 10 Architecture Group, for the redevelopment. The construction site was chosen to minimize the number of expropriations, both at the time and in the future. The higher elevation of the site also minimized snow drifts, provided cover from the wind, and its clear view of the Churchill River and Hudson's Bay. The complex included a school, a library, medical facilities, offices, and recreation spaces. Owing to the harsh climate and short building season, many components would be built off-site. Construction was completed in 1975.
James Nishikawa was a registered architect with the Manitoba Association of Architects and continues as a Retired Member.