My great grandparents were the most recent generation to have lived in Japan. On my Bachan’s side, my great grandmother had to eat sweet potatoes because the family couldn’t afford rice, despite it being their livelihood crop. She braved coming to a foreign country alone, without the language, to make a life with the husband she’d never met. I am proud of my great grandmother and great grandfather. They toughed it out as a fishing family in Canada until the war took that all away but they continued to be loving. On my Gichan’s side, my great great grandfather and his brother came over with their children. They were adopted as adults to carry on the Tokawa family name. I believe that is why there aren’t many other Tokawas.
There is something I want to say about my family history: When they came and built a life in Canada, there was no human rights code. No Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Unions were segregated if at all. There was no protection. In fact, laws were explicitly anti-non-white and designed to make my family leave. Getting to gosei – it was against the odds and I am proud of my family.