Japan Journal

A collection of Norm Ibuki's writings from 1995 to 2004 about his experiences while living in Sendai, Japan. Originally published in the Nikkei Voice (Toronto) newspaper.

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Growing up Korean in Japan - Part 2 of 2

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Hearing Joomi’s story reminded me of my own restless feelings growing up yearning to melt into the Canadian mainstream, to be embarrassed to tell people my Japanese middle name, Masaji, to somehow erase the reasons for the laughing finger pointing and vicious name calling. There wasn’t anything glorious about growing up Nikkei in Canada either.

Our similar immigrant’s stories of initial hardship, hard work, being scorned, made prisoners, persevering, keeping their dreams in sight, and, one or two generations later, seeing the fruits of their labor ripen with the success of their offsprings in the new …

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Growing up Korean in Japan - Part 1 of 2

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 1999. Since it was written, the situation of Koreans in Japan has changed, but since many issues persist today, we thought this was still important to share.

From time to time the topic of xenophobia in Japan comes up in my higher level English class.

The other week, I had one such class with a group that included an eye doctor, two Ph.D. students, and one university professor. At the beginning of the class I recited some statistics about the alarming rate at which the population of Japan is aging, the low …

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No More Bombs: The Legacy of Hiroshima and the A-Bomb - Part 3 of 3

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There’s a model of the city before the bomb, a bustling metropolis of about 350,000 with a good reputation for higher education, and a military base.

While the pictures of the physical damage to Hiroshima are devastating, I’ve seen similar ones of the aftermath of the bombings of Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Fukuoka, and Sendai that show a similar scale of physical destruction as unimaginable as it seems today. In March 1945, Tokyo was fire bombed for two hours, leaving 16 square miles of the eastern side of the city destroyed; 88,793 dead, 130,000 injured, a total …

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No More Bombs: The Legacy of Hiroshima and the A-Bomb - Part 2 of 3

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August 5th, Hiroshima

I have recently been looking for some answers about how to live “correctly”—meaning, I suppose, with personal integrity and respect for all people and nature. I’ve read quite a bit along these lines: Buddhism, Shintoism, Hinduism, the Koran, and Bahai faith and even the pleasure of talking occasionally with a Jehovah Witness fellow who is always kind enough to drop off free copies of the “Watch Tower” for me.

I am a product of a cynical age, having come of age (to some extent) in the nineties. I’ve seen friends become successful and …

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No More Bombs: The Legacy of Hiroshima and the A-Bomb - Part 1 of 3

I remember the moment when the dropping of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima finally hit me. I was interviewing Mrs. Hoshino of New Denver, B.C. some time in the early ‘90s. She was recalling the moment.

She and her family were interned at the Harris Ranch, in their home, sitting by the radio on the kitchen table. The way she explained hearing the first reports of the A-Bomb on August 6, 1945. What she said exactly wasn’t what I remember. It was really the moment of silence that followed, the “mokuso”; the closing of eyes and emptying of …

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a-bomb atomic bomb buddhism Canada citizenship discrimination Harris Ranch hibakusha hiroshima Ibuki identity immigration joomi kim korean in Japan language little tokyo miyajima nagasaki naturalization nikkei okonomiyaki Peace Memorial Museum Peace Plaza Powell Street racism