A Japanese Canadian Teenage Exile: The Life History of Kazuko Makihara

This series presents the life history of Kazuko Makihara, a second-generation Japanese Canadian who was born and raised near Vancouver to fishermen immigrants from Hiroshima. It narrates her memories of her childhood until the beginning of World War II, the subsequent forced uprooting of her family from their home and dispossession of all their property, their incarceration in an internment camp, and their exile to Japan at the end of the war. Next it describes her life in postwar Japan, her eventual return to Vancouver, her successful struggle against the odds to rebuild a life and career in Canada, and her various volunteer and recreational activities during her retirement.

* This series is an abridged version of a paper titled, “A Japanese Canadian Teenage Exile: The Life History of Kazuko Makihara”, first published in The Journal of the Institute for Language and Culture (Konan University), March 15, 2019, pp. 3-20.

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Part 5: Life and Retirement with Takeshi in Canada

As a young man in Onomichi, Kazuko’s husband Takeshi got experience writing for a religious sect called Nanmyo Horen Gekkyou, which helped him become a very skilled writer in Japanese. Soon after moving to Canada his writing talent was discovered by his friend Gordon Kadota who was the founder of the Geppo (a monthly magazine of the Vancouver Japanese Canadian community called The Bulletin in English). For many years Takeshi wrote the Japanese section of the Geppo every month as volunteer, and was very busy with this 3 or 4 late nights each month.

Then a gardening job opened ...

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Part 4: Return to Canada and Building a New Life in Vancouver

Both Kazuko and Takeshi continued working in Kobe and financially supporting the education of Kazuko’s younger brother and sister till they finished high school. After graduating, Kazuko’s younger brother and sister returned to Canada around 1955. First the younger brother worked for a lumber company and then for Nelson Chocolate in Vancouver. The sister did housework.

Eventually, Takeshi lost his job in Kobe. In 1958, Kazuko’s younger brother and sister invited Kazuko and Takeshi to join them in Canada. Takeshi also wanted to move to Canada at that time, but due to immigration law Kazuko had to ...

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Part 3: Exile and Live in Post-War Japan

Kazuko was thirteen years old when her family was exiled to Japan. Her parents made the difficult choice of exile to Japan because their kids were still small and her father felt a strong responsibility to take care of his adoptive mother who was still alive and living in Onomichi. His adoptive parents had moved back to Onomichi before the war, had bought a house and ran a small restaurant there. His adoptive father had died during the war, and his adoptive mother was managing the restaurant by herself. Kazuko’s father also thought there was no use in staying ...

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Part 2: Uprooting, Dispossession, and Incarceration

Shortly after the beginning of the war with Japan, the Canadian government ordered all Japanese Canadians living within 150 kilometers of the coast to “evacuate.” Kazuko’s family were given only twenty-four hours to leave their home. She remembers her mother telling her to quickly pack her own clothes. The police were at the door waiting for them to leave, so there was no time to waste. It happened so quickly they had no chance to ask friends to take care of their property or any of the things they left behind, so they lost everything. She says, “All our ...

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Part 1: Birth and Childhood until the War

Kazuko (Katy) Makihara was born into the Fukuhara family on September 26, 1933 in her parents’ home near Vancouver Cannery on Sea Island (now the location of Vancouver International Airport). Her birth was assisted by a Japanese midwife, Ms. Watanabe. She had an older sister, Hisaye, a younger sister, Judy, and a younger brother, Akio.

Kazuko’s parents were from Onomichi, Hiroshima. Her father first came to Canada because he was adopted by a childless aunt and uncle who were fishermen there. His adoptive parents apparently were quite prosperous as they had a big house and were lending money to ...

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