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

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Remembering Thomas Makiyama Sensei

Whenever I go back to Japan these days, it is really with more of a sense of mission, reevaluating my relationship with Japan and my identity of which being Nikkei is significant.

Even after having lived in British Columbia for three years, one in South Slocan where I lived for a short time in Lemon Creek visiting New Denver (both former internment camp sites) several times, and having lived in Japan for nine years, my understanding of who and what I am is slowly becoming a little less hazy.

The late great Hank Nakamura, a Canadian Nisei who was exiled ...

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“I am an American first and foremost and I am black” -- American Enka singer Jero

Today, in the uniquely traditional world of Japanese enka, there is no bigger new name than Jero.

Since writing a piece (“Jero and Me” ) earlier this year, I’ve been deeply intrigued about this American Nikkei singer who’s become a household name in Japan since his first CD, “Covers” (2008) followed by “Yakusoku” (“Promise”, 2009) and now “Covers 2”. I wanted to know what was behind the media hype.

Japan loves the gaijin who wants to belong. What makes Jero unusual is that he wants to make it on his own terms, with his own fashion sense and personal ...

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Japan Journal: A Repat's Story - Part 3

Continuation of Hiroshi Kumagai’s story.

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Missing Canada

I wasn’t happy at all. In a way, I was angry but not really angry. I longed for Canada. I missed Lemon Creek. I wanted a friend who was a Canadian who speaks English. That’s what I wanted. I felt really lonely.

My brother-in-law let me go to school there. That was also terrible because I was much taller and older than the others and I couldn’t speak Japanese. Well, I could, but everything I did didn’t fit into the picture. You didn’t wear ...

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Japan Journal: A Repat's Story - Part 2

Continuation of Hiroshi Kumagai’s story.

Read Part 1 >> 

Going to Japan

My father had land there (in Japan). That was the reason why he came to Canada: to send back money and hold on to the land he was responsible for. He didn’t want to lose it all in his generation.

After father died, mother didn’t have much to do. She used to teach me Japanese. The Matsushitas were in Lemon Creek too. So Lily would come over to learn Japanese too. In Lemon Creek there was a community and quite a bit of cultural activity: flower ...

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Japan Journal: A Repat's Story - Part 1

Since I arrived in Japan a year ago, I’ve wanted to speak to Canadian Nikkei about their experience living here in Japan. I’ve met and talked with a couple who refused to be interviewed so I was especially pleased when Mr. Lloyd Hiroshi Kumagai contacted me after reading an article I’d written about aikido.

Mr. Kumagai, 65, is a Canadian nisei who was born in Burquitlam, B.C., on March 15, 1931. His parents, Takeshi and Masako (nee Sasaki), were both from Miyagi-ken and had a farm in Uwanuma, a village close to Towa-cho, the village where ...

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