The Sansei and Beyond

photograph of smiling young women, 1 japanese canadian and 1 caucasian, wearing white caps, aprons, short-sleeved dresses, looking at book

The Sansei are the third generation, children of the Nisei. Most are not old enough to remember the events of World War II, which were rarely discussed by relatives and family. Most Sansei were raised in homes in which, except for food, there was little evidence of Japanese culture.They speak little or no Japanese, and have moved away from the traditions and religions of their parents.

Sansei are similar to other Canadians in terms of achievement, interest and social values. Education and contributing to their wider community are important. The Sansei enter secure professions, and their upward mobility leads them into an almost exclusive level of social interaction with non-Japanese groups.

As a result, the Sansei have questioned to what degree they should retain their Japanese identity. The situation is further complicated by such factors as geographic dispersal and inter-marriage. Some seek to reconnect with their Japanese heritage by learning the language, visiting Japan for a "back to the roots" exploration, learning Japanese martial arts, and studying the Japanese aesthetic and art forms such as flower arranging, taiko drumming, or traditional folk dances for example.

The newer generations of Yonsei and Gosei, and those of mixed race called Hapa, are fully immersed in Canadian society. Those whose faces carry Japanese features may still be subjected to subtle forms of racism.