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Terry Watada

Terry Watada is well-known in the Japanese Canadian community for his monthly column in the Nikkei Voice, a national Japanese Canadian community paper. He has written in all genres (fiction, poetry, drama, prose), edited two anthologies, and is also known as a musician and composer. His sound recordings include The Art of Protest, Birds on a Wing, Living in Paradise, and, Runaway Horses. Watada lives in Toronto. He used to teach at Seneca College.

Watada’s play, “Tale of a Mask,” was first produced in 1993 by the Workman Theatre Group. A revised script was staged in 2008/2009 by fu-GEN, an Asian-Canadian Theatre Organization. Another play, “Vincent” toured Ontario and Manitoba in 1997.

Watada’s non-fiction writing includes Bukkyo Tozen: A History of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in Canada, 1905-1995 (Toronto: HpF Press : Toronto Buddhist Church, 1996), The TBC: Toronto Buddhist Church 1995-2010 (Toronto: HpF Press, 2010) and a biography for juvenile readers, Seeing the Invisible: The Story of Dr. Irene Uchida: Canadian Scientist (Toronto: Umbrella Press, 1997).


Fiction (Short stories)

Daruma Days: A Collection of Fictionalised Biography

Vancouver, B.C.: Ronsdale Press, 1997.
PS8595 .A789 D37 1997

Publisher’s Synopsis

A brilliant series of linked stories, Daruma Days captures more than a century of Japanese Canadian experience. As has never been done before, Watada recreates the life-stories of the “issei” (the first generation of immigrants) imbued with Japanese tradition and haunted by the uncanny world of the supernatural. Into this world come the “nisei” (the second-generation) who, caught between cultures and loyalties, wander in a mindscape that is neither Canadian nor Japanese. At the heart of it all lies the alienation of the internment camps during WWII, when thousands of Japanese Canadian families were separated and evacuated to the interior of B.C. …


Kuroshio: The Blood of Foxes

Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2007.
PS8595 .A798 K97 2007

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Kuroshio, meaning “black current,” is the name given to the Pacific Ocean current that Japanese immigrants believe brought them safely to a new life in North America. In this vividly imagined novel based on a true story that spans decades and continents, Terry Watada explores the dark reaches of Issei, or Japanese immigrant, life in Vancouver prior to World War II.


Mysterious Dreams of the Dead

Vancouver: Anvil Press, 2020.
Forthcoming June 2020.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

At the heart of Mysterious Dreams of the Dead is the spiritual search for a father who died in a plane crash north of Lake Superior when his son was fifteen. Mike Shintani decides in his early thirties to address the curious circumstances surrounding his father’s death; the senior Shintani’s body was never found, and wolves circled the crash site as if guarding the area.

The impetus for Mike’s search for truth is a diary he found in the basement of his home. It was obviously his father’s, but it was written in Japanese. Mike never knew his father could write Japanese. He himself could neither read nor write the language. He was fortunate enough to enlist the help of Naoko Ito, a Japanese grad student at the University of Toronto. It turned out, the book was a dream diary, filled with poetry, descriptions of the surreal, and the story of a love affair with a woman named Chiemi. Chiemi is at the centre of the elder Shintani’s dreams, and Naoko, after some time, seemingly disappears into thin air. Both appear as ghosts in dreams.

Another great mystery of Mike’s life is the behaviour of one of his best friends, Boku Sugiura, who decides one day to rob a bank, in the name of his grandfather and redress for Japanese Canadians.


The Three Pleasures

Vancouver: Anvil Press, 2017.
PS8594. A798 T47 2017

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

1940s Vancouver. The Japanese have just bombed Pearl Harbour and racial tension is building in Vancouver. The RCMP are rounding up “suspicious” young men, and fishing boats and property are soon seized from Steveston fishers; internment camps in BC’s interior are only months away.

Daniel Sugiura, a young reporter for the New Canadian, the only Japanese-Canadian newspaper allowed to keep publishing during the war, narrates The Three Pleasures. The story is told through three main characters in the Japanese community: Watanabe Etsuo, Morii Etsuji and Etsu Kaga, the Three Pleasures. Etsu in Japanese means “pleasure”; the term is well-suited to these three. Morii Etsuji, the Black Dragon boss, controls the kind of pleasure men pay for: gambling, drink and prostitution – the pleasures of the flesh. Watanabe Etsuo, Secretary of the Steveston Fishermen’s Association, makes a deal with the devil to save his loved ones. In the end, he suffers for it and never regains the pleasures of family. And there is Etsu Kaga, a Ganbariya of the Yamato Damashii Group, a real Emperor worshipper. His obsession becomes destructive to himself and all involved with him. He enjoys the pleasure of patriotism until that patriotism becomes a curse.

Fiction (Graphic novel)

The Sword, The Medal and the Rosary

Illustrated by Kenji Iwata.
Toronto: HpF Press, 2013.
FC106 .J3 Z7 2013

Publisher’s Synopsis

… based on the true exploits of Yasuo Takashima, an adventurous Japanese Canadian pioneer, who lived through the 1907 Vancouver Race Riots as a combatant, World War I as a decorated soldier, World War II as an internee and the Japanese Canadian post-war diaspora as an exile. The sword, the medal and the rosary, mementoes from his various experiences, became symbols of his life. Thus their fate became his fate and perhaps the fate of all Japanese Canadians.


The Four Sufferings: Shiku hakku

Toronto: Mawenzi House, 2020.
E-book (Access restricted to TMU community members)

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

In Japanese, shiku hakku means to endure, an expression that originates in Buddhism. The Four Sufferings links Terry Watada’s past and present while acknowledging the fundamental suffering of human existence—in birth, aging, illness and death, as well as the suffering endured in daily living—in mundane frustrations, desire, and separation. As well, it celebrates love, and in the end it comes to seek an enlightened state of acceptance. Rise above life’s hardships and rejoice in the state of life is the overall theme of this collection.


The Game of 100 Ghosts

Toronto: TSAR, 2014.
PS8595 .A798 G35 2014

Publisher’s Synopsis

Inspired by an old Japanese parlour game of the Edo period (1603-1868), The Game of 100 Ghosts is a lyrical tribute to the poet’s friends and relations who recently departed their lives.  In the game, participants gather in the dark at night and sit around 100 lit candles.  Each player tells a ghost story, after which a candle is snuffed out.  The last candle ends the spiritual evocation, which the participants hope will summon a supernatural being.  This wonderful collection then evokes the spirits of lost friends and relations while paying tribute to a tradition.



Obon: The Festival of the Dead

Saskatoon, Sask.: Thistledown Press, 2006.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Terry Watada crafts an artful mix of Buddhist tradition, Japanese-infused language and rich cultural history, where death is but one stop in the cyclical, timeless nature of a life. His is a warm tribute to the thin veil between worlds where sorrow is as transient as happiness. …



Ten Thousand Views of Rain

Saskatoon, Sask.: Thistledown Press, 2001.
PS8595 .A798 T46 2001

Publisher’s Synopsis

This beautiful collection of lyrical poems explores the dynamic interaction of Japanese and Canadian cultures, utilizing the powerful and universal elements of weather, art and family. …



A Thousand Homes

Edited by Beverley Daurio.
Stratford, Ont.: Mercury Press, 1995.
PS8595 .A789 T464 1995

Awards and Honours

1995 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award (Nominated)

Anthology (Drama)

“The Tale of a Mask.” In Canadian Mosaic: 6 Plays. Toronto: Simon & Pierre, 1995.
PS8315 .C35 1995

Anthology (Non-fiction)

Collected Voices: An Anthology of Asian North American Periodical Writing

Selected and edited by Terry Watada.
Toronto: HpF Press, 1997.


Publisher Anvil Press

Publisher Arsenal Pulp Press

Publisher Mawenzi House (formerly TSAR)

Publisher Ronsdale Press

Publisher Thistledown Press