Early years

I was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1929. My family lived in Kyoto but we went to Tokyo because my mother was from there. She was giving birth to my sister Kyoko.

I came to Canada when I was 8 years old. We first went to New Westminster because my father was a Buddhist minister and became the minister there. I don’t remember much else because I was just a kid.

I really missed Japan because it was so bustling at that time. We had subways and things like that in Tokyo. When I came to New Westminster I thought: What kind of god forsaken place is this? It was really, really the boonies.

Since we were a Buddhist family and lived at the otera, we didn’t have too many things. Our bedding was made from slats of wood. The first night I slept on top of the ping pong table, fell off and went bang onto the floor. The otera, built by the Japanese community, was on 120 – 12th Street. It’s still there. I think the Jehovah Witnesses have taken over the building.

I can’t recall any bad experiences from that time. I do remember some hakujin friends who supported Japanese students. There was a fellow named Morris Campbell. He and I chummed together. He said:  Mak that guy called you a Jap!  Should I hit him?  I said: No, no, no, it’s alright. That sort of thing took place. I was a kid of course and had no idea what was happening. I looked at my time in New Westminster as an enjoyable new life. It’s hard to explain.

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