Born in Vancouver, Ayukawa spent four years during World War II in an internment camp for Japanese Canadians in Slocan. She lived in Hamilton and Ottawa before returning to British Columbia. She earned a Masters of Science degree in chemistry from McMaster University and worked on the National Research Council until 1955. In the 1970s she was a chemistry laboratory instructor at Carleton University and the University of Victoria. In 1997 she attained a Ph.D. on the history of Hiroshima immigrants to Canada, leading to Hiroshima Immigrants in Canada, 1891-1941 (UBC Press, 2008), an examination of migrants who settled in Canada between 1891 and 1941. It's partially based on interviews with three generations of migrants and their relatives, in both Japan and Canada.

Ayukawa is also the co-author of The Japanese in the Encyclopedia of Canadian People (University of Toronto Press, 1999) and Reshaping Memory Owning History: Through the Lens of Japanese Canadian Redress (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2009), with Yuko Shibata and Roy Miki.

Reviews of the author's work by BC Studies:
Hiroshima Immigrants in Canada, 1891-1941

[BCBW 2008] "Japanese"