Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Chiru Sakura—Falling Cherry Blossoms

A Mother & Daughter's Journey through Racism, Internment and Oppression

by (author) Grace Eiko Thomson

Caitlin Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2021
Creative Writing, English Language Arts, Geography, History, Social Justice, Social Studies
Grade Levels
10 to 12
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2021
    List Price

Where to buy it

Descriptive Review

Chiru Sakura — Falling Cherry Blossoms document's the author's family history and that of Japanese Canadians interned during WWII. Starting with her mother’s childhood in Japan, she traces the family’s movement to Vancouver’s Paueru Gai (Powell Street, Downtown Eastside) until 1942. When Canada declared war on Japan, the forced removal of people with Japanese ancestry, including naturalized Canadians and those born in Canada, to internment camps meant the family relocated to Munro Mines, BC. After the war they were barred from returning to the West Coast and lived in Winnipeg. Interspersed with Thomson's mother's translated memoir, the book speaks to the racism and oppression experienced by Japanese Canadians, as well as Thomson's journey to curate the Japanese Canadian experience though art.

200 pp., 6 × 9", b&w photographs • Bibliography

Source: Association of Book Publishers of BC - BC Books for Schools (2021-2022)

About the author


  • Short-listed, Vancouver Book Award

Contributor Notes

Grace Eiko Thomson is a second-generation Japanese Canadian, who, with her parents and siblings, lived in Paueru Gai (Powell Street, Downtown Eastside) in Vancouver until 1942 when they were sent to the internment site of Minto Mines, BC, then in 1945 to rural Manitoba. After restrictions were lifted, they re-settled in the City of Winnipeg (1950). Grace's education focused on her need to overcome memories of racism and identity issues, through investigation of her cultural roots and through art. She graduated from University of Manitoba (BFA Hons. 1973-77) and University of Leeds, UK, (M. Soc. History of Art, 1990-91). As curator of various art galleries (1983-98), she concentrated on cross-cultural issues as well as women's issues. In 2000, as Director/Curator, she launched the Japanese Canadian National Museum. She was President of the National Association of Japanese Canadians in 2008 and served on the National Executive Board from 2005 to 2010. She is mother to two sons and grandmother to five grandchildren, and currently participates in various Downtown Eastside activities and issues in Vancouver, BC.

Editorial Reviews

"'Art is solely about living—living and doing without necessarily having to consciously interpret, define or choose.'—Thus says Grace Eiko Thompson, former curator and now memoirist, in her book Chiru SakuraFalling Cherry Blossoms. Told in parts by her mother's translated memoir, and by Thompson's reflection on her mother's words, the story of this mother and daughter is wise and memorable; in short, a work of art."

—Sally Ito, author of The Emperor's Orphans, a cultural memoir of a Japanese Canadian family

"An honest and articulate troublemaker, Grace Eiko Thomson offers readers an alternative to the model minority narrative as she fearlessly calls out injustices and sets a courageous path for future generations. Sharing her Issei (first generation) mother's diary and her own life journey, Thomson provides precious details and reflects on the impact of Japanese Canadians' dispossession during World War II. Ultimately, she urges humanity to move forward in the fight for social justice and equity."

—Emiko Morita, Powell Street Festival

"Grace's stories about growing up in the Powell Street (Paueru Gai) area of Vancouver, juxtaposed with her mother's recollections, bring to life the once vibrant Japanese Canadian community that existed prior to the forced uprooting of Japanese Canadians in 1942. Her compelling family story seen from both her and her mother's eyes give us insight into generational differences, separation of family, and the internment experiences of women and girls, which is something you won't find in history textbooks."

—Lorene Oikawa, president of the National Association of Japanese Canadians

"Grace Eiko Thomson is a prominent member of the Japanese Canadian community. She has dedicated her life to discovering, exploring, and preserving the culture and traditions of Japanese Canadian life. In Chiru SakuraFalling Cherry Blossoms, she continues to do so through the engaging stories of her mother and her own. A worthwhile read in her depiction of the deprivation, injustice, poignancy and joy of our common experience."

—Terry Watada, author of Mysterious Dreams of the Dead and The Four Sufferings