Norm Masaji Ibuki

Writer Norm Masaji Ibuki lives in Oakville, Ontario. He has written extensively about the Canadian Nikkei community since the early 1990s. He wrote a monthly series of articles (1995-2004) for the Nikkei Voice newspaper (Toronto) which chronicled his experiences while in Sendai, Japan. Norm now teaches elementary school and continues to write for various publications. 

Updated August 2014

identity en

A Book Review - The Emperor's Orphans by Winnipeg's Sally Ito

“Going from being the ‘Jap’ in one country (Canada) to the ‘Yankee’ in another (Japan) must not have been pleasant. No matter where they went the Ito family felt like perpetual outsiders,” Winnipeg author Sally Ito, describing the experience of her ‘repat’ uncle to Japan where he faced discrimination of a different sort.

Let’s face it, the effort to ‘discover oneself’ is complicated even at the best of times. Truly, the untangling of DNA strands don’t begin to tell the story of who we are. The actual factors that go into this process are abundantly more complex than ...

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Canadian Nikkei Artist

Marjene Matsunaga Turnbull: How-to-Bake a Japanese Canadian Cake

Here’s an intriguing idea about how to think about your Japanese Canadian identity: What if it were a cake recipe what would go into it and how would you construct or, perhaps, more aptly, deconstruct, it?

De/constructing my own Japanese Canadian identity over the years, I’ve learned that the foundation of the Japanese part of my cultural shaping would include the food, my awkward way of interacting with others (especially in Japanese), Buddhism, aikido, how history has twisted and bent my identity, the novels of Yukio Mishima, Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, Kenzaburo Oe, and writer Naoya Shiga’s ...

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Canadian Nikkei Artist

A journey of becoming ... with Toronto’s Lillian Michiko Blakey - Part 2

The continuation of Lillian Michiko Blakey's story.

Read Part One >>

Right after the craft show, I got busy with my first real art piece. I am still mystified as to why I chose to create a nonrepresentational piece of art. “White Night” was an abstract landscape completely created in varying tones of point fabric. Upon reflection today, I find myself thinking this is an odd way of representing night. The other strange thing is that abstract expressionism of the 60s have never been of intrinsic interest to me. As I grow older, I search for meaning increasingly in the ...

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Canadian Nikkei Artist

A journey of becoming ... with Toronto’s Lillian Michiko Blakey - Part 1

Dear Reader:

When did you decide to become “Japanese Canadian” and did that choice come at a cost?

For me, it was when I realized that despite being immersed in a white community, I was not a full member and that my position in it was always qualified and defined by a persistent ‘otherness,’ that stereotype that even my most well intentioned friends can’t seem to see beyond. It’s always the same asinine comments about Japanese culture, baseball, or sushi. This Japanese Canadian (JC) stuff is about being pushed to the edges. White western fetishism with “Japan” has ...

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Canadian Nikkei Artist

Norman Takeuchi - An Uneasy Harmony of Sorts

“Certain events can have a major impact that will last a lifetime. The forced removal of the Japanese Canadian - my family was among them - from the west coast into the British Columbia (BC) interior in 1942 is one of those events. My troubled feelings regarding this disordered time have remained unfaded along with my ambivalent attitude towards being Canadian of Japanese origin.”

— Artist Norman Takeuchi

As we launch into the new “Canadian Nikkei Artist” series, I wanted to start with artist Norman Takeuchi who was born in 1937 in Vancouver, which means, of course, that he was a victim of ...

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