Stanley Kirk

Stan Kirk grew up in rural Alberta and graduated from the University of Calgary. He now lives in Ashiya City, Japan with his wife Masako and son Takayuki Donald. Presently he teaches English at the Institute for Language and Culture at Konan University in Kobe. Recently Stan has been researching and writing the life histories of Japanese Canadians who were exiled to Japan at the end of World War II.

Updated April 2018

community en

Exile and Back: The Story of the Hirai Family

Chapter 5—Struggle to Adjust

Read Chapter 4 >> In stark contrast to Shig, who had previously lived in Canada till age nine and spoke English as his first language, Miki could hardly speak any English at all. He had never learned English in Japan. He had learned romaji (Roman letters), but little more. However, he was naturally good at math and had also studied soroban in Japan, so math class was easy for him. He had done very well in school in Japan — one of the top three in his class out of about one hundred and fifty students. This would not be the case in Canada. Although he had completed grade 5 in…

Read more

community en

Exile and Back: The Story of the Hirai Family

Chapter 4—Return to Canada

Read Chapter 3 >> Arrival in Vancouver At some point in the mid-1950s, Hyoshiro and Fujiye Hirai decided to move their family back to Canada. Miki now characterizes his life after returning to Canada as “a story of frustration, challenge and finding success in my own way. It has been a long time, starting in 1956, and is still going on.” He describes why his family returned to Canada as follows: On his mother Fujiye’s side, two of her brothers and one sister were living in Taber (in southern Alberta), while just one sister was living in Oyabu, their hometown in Shig…

Read more

community en

Exile and Back: The Story of the Hirai Family

Chapter 3—Childhood Experiences in Taga, Japan

Read Chapter 2 >> Miki had no problem adjusting to Japan due to being only two-years-old when he arrived. In fact, he felt like he had been born in Japan as he had no memories of Canada, and Japanese became his first language. He got along well with friends and played baseball using a bat made from bamboo. Every morning they got up around 6:00 a.m. so they could play baseball for an hour before school. Miki played third base and was a good batter and home run hitter. He remembers what a great day it was when his dad bought him a baseball glove and a wooden bat which he then shared w…

Read more

community en

Exile and Back: The Story of the Hirai Family

Chapter 2—Life in Postwar Japan: Hardships and Neighborly Support

Read Part 1 >> Difficult Relations with Relatives On October 2, 1946, the Hirai family boarded the Marine Falcon, one of three ships chartered by the Canadian government to transport Japanese Canadians to Japan. Miki was two years old and Shig was nine. Shig recalls being seasick every single day of the voyage, and the terrible food they were given after landing at the repatriation center in Uraga. Of the infamous rancid soup given to repatriates at Uraga, he quips, “If you say it was soup, then I guess it was soup!” After about two weeks in Yokosuka, they made the ar…

Read more

community en

Exile and Back: The Story of the Hirai Family

Chapter 1—Family Background, Life in Canada Before and During War

This series narrates the history of the Hyoshiro1 and Fujiye Hirai family, especially focusing on the two sons, Shig (Shigeru) and Miki, both of whom have been very active members of the Japanese Canadian community in Vancouver, BC (British Columbia). When Shig and Miki were children, the Hirai family were among the nearly 4000 Japanese Canadians exiled2 to Japan at the end of World War II. The first chapter briefly summarizes the Hirai family background and their life in Canada before and during the internment period until their decision to move to Japan after the war. Subsequent chapt…

Read more