Within the Barbed Wire Fence

A Japanese Man's Account of his Internment in Canada

by Takeo Ujo Nakano

with Leatrice Nakano (Willson Chan)

The moving story of a man torn from his family and interned in distant labour camps for the "crime" of being Japanese during World War Two.
Takeo Nakano immigrated to Canada from Japan in 1920, later marrying and starting a family in his adopted homeland. Takeo's passion was poetry, and he cultivated the exquisite form known as tanka.
Then came the Second World War. In 1942, Takeo Nakano was one of thousands of Japanese men interned in labour camps in the British Columbia interior. Their only "crime" was their Japanese origins. Wrenched from his wife and daughter, placed in a labour camp and then an isolated internment camp in northern Ontario, Takeo wrote of his experiences, feelings and reflections with the sensitivity and perception of a poet.
Within the Barbed Wire Fence is the touching account of the effects of one of Canada's greatest injustices on a single, sensitive soul.

About the Authors

Takeo Ujo Nakano

TAKEO UJO NAKANO was born in Japan and immigrated to Canada in 1920. He worked in the British Columbia lumber industry for twenty years before his internment during the Second World War. After the war, he settled with his family in Toronto, continuing his cultivation of tanka.

Leatrice Nakano (Willson Chan)

LEATRICE M. WILLSON CHAN is a program associate in restorative justice with the Mennonite Central Committee Ontario.


"A poet's story of a man trapped by history."
Canadian Press
"Sensitive and moving... This book holds the bloom of a beautiful parable."
United Church Observer
"What sets Nakano's memoir apart is his poetic sensibility... A reaffirmation of the strength of the human spirit in adversity and the healing power of forgiveness."
William French, Globe and Mail

Subjects (BISAC)


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