|Joy Nozomi Kogawa, née Nakayama, was born in Vancouver, BC on June 6, 1935 to Reverend Gordon Goichi Nakayama and Lois Masui Nakayama. The Reverend Gordon Nakayama was born in Okawamura, Ehmiken, Japan and immigrated to Vancouver in 1919. An active missionary throughout his life, Nakayama made many trips across Canada, the U.S., Japan, Okinawa, Brazil and Paraguay. He passed away in 1995. Joy’s mother Lois was a kindergarten teacher and singer, and her brother Timothy is a clergyman.|
Joy and her family were relocated to Slocan in 1942. Following the war in 1945 the family resettled in Coaldale, Alberta. Joy pursued studies at the University of Alberta, after which she briefly taught elementary education. She also studied at the University of Toronto, The Women's Training College and the University of Saskatchewan.
Joy’s best known work is the multi-award winning "Obasan," a semi-autobiographical book that chronicles Canada's internment and persecution of its citizens of Japanese descent during World War II from the perspective of a young child. "Obasan" was later adapted into a children's book, "Naomi's Road" (1986), which lead to its adaptation into a 45-minute opera by Vancouver Opera.
Joy married David Kohashigawa (later changed to Kogawa) in 1957 and had two children; Gordon and Deidre. She divorced in 1968. In 1982, she began her involvement with Sadan-Kai, a Japanese Canadian activist who sought redress from the Canadian Government. Joy was awarded the Order of Canada in 1986 and, in 2010, the Japanese government honored Kogawa with the Order of the Rising Sun.
The Save Kogawa House committee was initiated to save the Nakayama family home from demolition. This house was purchased by the Land Conservancy of BC as it is regarded as having both historical value and literary significance. Joy Kogawa currently resides in Vancouver, BC.
In 1994, Nakayama confirmed and admitted via letter and to an Anglican Church official to significant immoral sexual conduct over many years while in the office of priest. In February 1995, Nakayama voluntarily resigned the privileges of his ministry. Nakayama died on 8 Oct. 1995.
In March 2014, Nakayama’s children, Joy Kogawa and Timothy Nakayama, published an open letter in the Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association’s The Bulletin, acknowledging an initiative underway by the JCCA Human Rights committee to disclose Nakayama’s offences (http://jccabulletin-geppo.ca/an-open-letter-to-japanese-canadians/). Later in May 2014, the Reverend Nakayama Disclosure Project Working Group was announced. On 15 June 2015 at the Vancouver Japanese Language School, an official apology was issued by the Right Reverend Gregory Kerr-Wilson, Bishop of the diocese of Calgary, and the Right Reverend Melissa Skelton, Bishop of the diocese of New Westminster, to all members of the Japanese Canadian Community affected by abuse perpetrated by Nakayama.