Emperor’s Orphans, The

Emperor’s Orphans, The

ISBN: 9780888015679
Author: Sally Ito

During the Second World War, approximately 4,000 Japanese-Canadians were "repatriated" to Japan. Among those Canadians sent back were members of author and poet, Sally Ito's family. As a Japanese Canadian child growing up in the suburbs of Edmonton, Alberta, Ito's early life was a lone island of steamed tofu and vegetables amidst a sea of pot roast and mashed potatoes.

Through the Redress movement of the late 80s, the eventual Parliamentary acknowledgment of wartime injustices, and the restoration of citizenship to those exiled to Japan she considers her work as an author of poetry and prose, meditating on themes of culture and identity.

Later as a wife and mother of two, Sally returns to Japan and re-lives the displacement of her family through interviews, letters, and shared memories. Throughout her journey, Ito weaves a compelling narrative of her family’s path through the darkest days of the Pacific War, its devastating aftermath, and the repercussions on cultural identity for all the Emperor's Orphans.

Awards and Honours

Shortlisted: Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction


Often gripping, always poetic, filled with things you may not know about the Japanese in Canada. Read it! —Maurice Mierau, Detachment, An Adoption Memoir

  • [Ito's] lively travelogue slides effortlessly betwixt and between cultures, locales, generations, and family members and, in the process, peels back layers of self in a story that deepens as layers are stripped away, confronting family truths. Ito courageously faces truths about herself and family that are important stepping stones...This book is unique in that it bears witness to a Sansei’s often soul-wrenching search for herself. Ito’s journey provides a guide of sorts for those of us who are on similar paths. —Discover Nikkei
  • Deftly written, deeply personal and impressively informative, The Emperor's Orphans is an extraordinary blend of personal memoir and cultural/political history born of wartime fears and defensive policies ... An extraordinary, thoughtful and thought-provoking read from beginning to end. —Midwest Book Review


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R3B 1H3


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