Focus on JC Books + JC Writers
With the holiday season and gift giving just around the corner in this most unusual of times, we present a selection of new and just-about-to-be-published books by Japanese Canadian writers and/or about the Japanese Canadian experience. From Jeff Chiba Stearns and Lillian Michiko Blakey’s graphic novel for young readers, to Tatsuo Kage’s collected writings based on his 45 years in Canada, to the Landscapes of Injustice book, documenting the deliberate destruction of the Japanese Canadian community through the act of dispossession, there is something for every age and interest. All of the books are already on sale or will be available before the end of the year.
Selected Writings by Tatsuo Kage
Purchase Migration, Displacement, and Redress: A Japanese Canadian Perspective by Tatusuo Kage
Read review by Angela May (née Kruger)
At the heart of Mysterious Dreams of the Dead is the spiritual search for a father who died in a plane crash north of Lake Superior when his son was fifteen. Mike Shintani decides in his early thirties to address the curious circumstances surrounding his father’s death; the senior Shintani’s body was never found, and wolves circled the crash site as if guarding the area.
The impetus for Mike’s search for truth is a diary he found in the basement of his home. It was obviously his father’s, but it was written in Japanese. Mike never knew his father could write Japanese. He himself could neither read nor write the language. He was fortunate enough to enlist the help of Naoko Ito, a Japanese grad student at the University of Toronto. It turned out, the book was a dream diary, filled with poetry, descriptions of the surreal, and the story of a love affair with a woman named Chiemi. Chiemi is at the centre of the elder Shintani’s dreams, and Naoko, after some time, seemingly disappears into thin air. Both appear as ghosts in dreams.
Another great mystery of Mike’s life is the behaviour of one of his best friends, Boku Sugiura, who decides one day to rob a bank in the name of his grandfather and redress for Japanese Canadians.
The two strains of the novel come together in Moose Jaw. Mike discovers the truth about his father’s life and Boku’s uncle (Daniel Sugiura from Terry’s previous novel, The Three Pleasures), a protestor in the Moose Jaw stand-off.
Through elements of the Japanese ghost story (kwaidan), magic realism, and Buddhist myth, secrets are revealed and explored. Mysterious Dreams of the Dead is an imaginative examination of the effects of exile, internment, and dispersal on the sansei, third-generation of Japanese Canadians.
The book will be available online and through bookstores before the end of the year.
Jeff Chiba Stearns
Lillian Michiko Blakey
In a rare collaboration between two of Canada’s most notable Japanese Canadian artists, Jeff Chiba Stearns and Lillian Michiko Blakey, comes an intergenerational story on Japanese Canadian family history and cultural identity.
Through the blending of two unique artistic styles, 12-year-old Emma learns about her Japanese roots when her Ba-chan tells her the true-life story of her great-great grandmother Maki, a Japanese picture bride who journeyed to Canada at the turn of the 20th century.
Maki’s story of extreme perseverance and sacrifice inspires Emma, who identifies as a quarter Japanese, to discover a deeper connection to her Japanese Canadian identity…and on being Yukiko.
In order to appeal to young readers, this is the first time a graphic novel has ever been created to address both these themes of Japanese Canadian history and identity. Pre-order at
Intended audience: pre-teen, young adult
The definitive statement of a major national research partnership, Landscapes of Injustice reinterprets the internment of Japanese Canadians by focusing on the deliberate and permanent destruction of home through the act of dispossession. All forms of property were taken. Families lost heirlooms and everyday possessions. They lost decades of investment and labour. They lost opportunities, neighbourhoods, and communities; they lost retirements, livelihoods, and educations. When Japanese Canadians were finally released from internment in 1949, they had no homes to return to. Asking why and how these events came to pass and charting Japanese Canadians’ diverse responses, this book details the implications and legacies of injustice perpetrated under the cover of national security.
Available online and through the NNMCC gift store.
In Japanese, shiku hakku means to endure, an expression that originates in Buddhism. The Four Sufferings links Terry Watada’s past and present while acknowledging the fundamental suffering of human existence—in birth, aging, illness and death, as well as the suffering endured in daily living—in mundane frustrations, desire, and separation. As well, it celebrates love, and in the end it comes to seek an enlightened state of acceptance. Rise above life’s hardships and rejoice in the state of life is the overall theme of this collection.
The book will be available on Amazon and through local bookstores before the end of November.
In rain-drenched Vancouver, detectives Dion and Leith chase connections between a tragic drowning, a violent assault, and an apparent suicide.
February is the month of romance, but in North Vancouver it’s also become the month of murder. While the North Shore RCMP slog through the rain in the search for whoever left a young woman to die in the Riverside Secondary School parking lot — their first clue a Valentine’s Day card — a toddler mysteriously vanishes from a Riverside Drive home in the midst of a dinner party.
With Constable JD Temple’s full attention on the parking lot murder, Constables Dave Leith and Cal Dion work the kidnap … until a tenuous connection is made between the two cases, along with the thinnest ray of hope that the child could be alive and well in the hands of a childless couple.
But when more tragedy rains down on the North Shore, lies must be unveiled before the ugly truth can emerge.
Available online and through bookstores.
Kyowakai: Memory and Healing in New Denver
Author: Anne Champagne | Book design: John Endo Greenaway
Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre
The Kyowakai Society was formed in New Denver in 1943. When it finally disbanded in 2018 it was the only wartime Japanese Canadian internment organization still in operation. Incorporated as a society in 1977, the Kyowakai Society spearheaded the creation of the Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre (NIMC) with the purpose of collecting, conserving, researching, exhibiting and interpreting objects that represent the life and conditions of the Nikkei living in the Orchard section of New Denver and surrounding West Kootenay internment camps between 1942 and 1957. The only centre of its kind in Canada, it draws attention to global issues of racism, injustice and resilience.
This book tells the story of the NIMC, the people who created it and the healing it inspired. Part history, part cautionary tale, part companion to the exhibits and gardens at the NIMC, this book explores the vision for the centre, elaborates on the interpretive signs that accompany displays, and unravels the symbolic meaning of the Peace Garden. You’ll find little-known photographs and stories about wartime, postwar and ongoing experiences of internees and their descendants.
The New Denver experience was unique in that while most were forced east of the Rockies or to move to Japan after the war, detainees from other camps were shunted to the village’s tuberculosis sanatorium along with caregivers and others who were too unwell to move. As a document in the Kyowakai Hall states, they were expected to die soon but many survived and created meaningful lives in the Slocan Valley. Others stayed because they had nowhere else to go, showing great courage, conviction and determination as they resisted pressure from the RCMP to move on.
With the NIMC, local Japanese Canadians wanted to tell their story, partly to inspire Nikkei with the fact that they endured and to assure future generations that they too could tap into such inner strength.
The book is available through preorder by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Edited by Randy Enomoto
Give the gift of history and the support the Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association with the GVJCCA’s ground-breaking book Honouring Our People: Breaking the Silence. Edited by Randy Enomoto, the book collects the stories of those incarcerated starting in 1942.
Many of the stories were collected at the 2009 at the Honouring Our People: Stories of the Internment conference in Burnaby, BC, the first time many of the over-50 stories had been shared.
These beautifully-illustrated books can be purchased at the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural in Burnaby for $26.20 (including tax) or ordered through the GVJCCA and mailed to you or the recipeints of your choice for a special discounted price of $45 including shipping and taxes (in Canada only).
To order, email email@example.com and send cheque for $45 to GVJCCA, 249 – 6688 Southoaks Crescent, Burnaby, BC V5E 4M7. Cheques must be received before shipping. Books can be delivered anywhere in Canada.