Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Henry Shimizu Interview
Narrator: Henry Shimizu
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 25 & 26, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-shenry-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: So, we're going to start our interview with Henry Shimizu. Today is Tuesday, July 25, 2006, and we are in the Densho studios, and on camera is Dana Hoshide, and I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda. And so, Henry, I'm just going to start from the very beginning of your life. And can you tell me what, what name was given to you when you were born, and when you were born?

HS: Well, I was born in Prince Rupert in 1928. And the names that were given to me at the time was Henry, and then they baptized me John as well, because my mother was an Anglican, and there was an Anglican missionary there that she knew very well. And she was also, she had also become an Anglican in Japan when she, before she came to Canada. Now, the other name that she gave me, of course, was Akira, the Japanese side, and then Shimizu, of course. And that, I was born, like I say, in Prince Rupert, and I still have the old huge, large paper-type birth certificate that they gave out in those days with your little photograph on the back of it.

TI: So what was the date of your birth?

HS: The actual date was November 26, 1928.

TI: Okay. And was there any significance to the name Henry or Akira?

HS: I think, I think my mother wanted to emulate, why she used the word Henry, it was either Henry or Harry. She was thinking in terms of royalty in England, I think, that was her idea. And so that's the reason why she chose that name. It was probably a pretty popular name at that time as well. It's like every generation has certain popular names, and at that time I think it was Harry and Henry.

TI: Yeah, I think my generation --

HS: George, Harry and Henry, those were very common in those days.

TI: I think my generation, David was a real common...

HS: Yeah, David, yeah.

TI: Now, did you have any brothers or sisters?

HS: I had, I had a half brother, in that my mother was my father's second wife. His first wife died in, during the flu epidemic of 1918, and that, she died in Japan. And she, he already had a child, a son, who stayed in Japan and lived with the grandparents after her death. And so she never did, he never did come to Canada 'til much, much later. My dad then after the death of her, his first wife, he...

TI: Well, before we go there, so what was the name of your half brother?

HS: My half brother's name was Andy. Well, that's what they called him, Andrew, his name was Andy. You know, he's never, he's never used his Japanese name, so I don't even know what his Japanese name is, I can't think of it right now. He's always used Andy Shimizu, and he doesn't have a middle initial or anything, so we never knew what the other, other Japanese name was, because he did have a Japanese name, but it was from his... original name. And "Andrew" may have been given to him actually when he came to Canada, rather than something... Shoji, that's right, I remember that now. Shoji is, was his original name. And they said Shoji became Andrew. And he, he was, he's about, let's see. He would be at least ten years older than I am, he's a little bit more than ten years, I think.

TI: But he's passed away?

HS: No, he's still living, living in Toronto. He's in, seems to be in good health right now. The last time we saw him was about six months ago, and he was in good health at that time. He, he stayed in Japan until he was sixteen, I think, or seventeen, and then he then, in about 1937, he came to Canada, and then he stayed ever since and, of course, became a part of the family that way. But in a way, he was, you know, he was at least ten years older than I was, and I was the oldest of my family with my mother Kimiko. And so he was kind of, he was almost like a generation ahead of us. And so our relationship, we never really got to know him very well because he was so much older.

TI: Well, talk about your other siblings.

HS: Now, we had, then I had a, I have a sister by the name of Haruko, and her, her name is Grace, that's what she uses, Grace. And then another sister called Eva, who died, oh, when she was, it's gotta be, what, in the 19-, she died in the 1970s. And another brother, Ken, or his name was Kaien, actually, K-A-I-E-N, just like you have people called Daien, D-A-I-E-N, you know. Kaien is actually, was taken from the island in which Prince Rupert was on. He was born in Prince Rupert as well, and when he was born, my father, by that time, had become a little more, knew a little bit more about Prince Rupert, and he decided to call him after the island, Kaien, and of course it became Ken. And I think his Japanese name was Hideo. I'm not absolutely sure, because he never uses that. So it's just like I don't use Akira, so you get so that you don't even know that what your Japanese name is.

TI: And so what were the age differences between you and your sisters and...

HS: Well, I had myself, then a year later was Grace, and Eva must be about, was about five years younger than myself, and Ken, Kaien, is eight years younger than I. So that was, there were four of us.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.