Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Gene Akutsu Interview II
Narrator: Gene Akutsu
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: April 17, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-agene-03-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: So going back to when you were born, what was the name given to you at birth? What was the name that your parents gave you?

GA: Jin, that is J-I-N, Hitoshi Akutsu.

TI: And at what point did people start calling you "Gene"? From Jin to Gene, how did that happen?

GA: Well, that was, when I wound up going to high school, my brother had already changed his name to Jim. And two names with "Jim" is not right, you know. But the reason why they called him Jim was his name was Hajime, and the white people would say "Hi-Jimmy," and therefore he cut it short and he'd say "Jim." Me, on the other hand, people used to call me nickname of Whisky and all that because it's a liquor, J-I-N was more like a liquor. And so the, and also the teacher used to make a mistake and used to call me "Jim" anyway. So I changed my name to Jim.

TI: You changed your name to "Jim" or "Gene"?

GA: Jim.

TI: Jim, okay.

GA: Now, that was not official. I just changed it, and when we wound up going to camp, that's where the confusion came about where two names Jim in the same household, so we decided, well, okay, I will take the name "Gene" and he will take the name "Jim" officially.

TI: Oh, so that's confusing because some people in the community might say, well, "Jim Akutsu," they could be talking about you or your older brother.

GA: That's right.

TI: And so in camp you changed it to "Gene."

GA: Yes.

TI: And your brother stayed "Jim." So talking about your brother Jim, how much older was Jim than you were?

GA: He was five years older.

TI: Okay, good. And I wanted to ask, your father, what was your father's name?

GA: Name was Kiyonosuke.

TI: And do you know where in Japan, where he's from?

GA: The county Tochigi-ken, which is the entry to Nikko. Nikko, you've heard of, where they have, that's really an attraction for the tourists. But anyway, it was right there, right close to there.

TI: And how about your mother, what was her name?

GA: Mother's name was Nao, N-A-O.

TI: And where in Japan was she from?

GA: Same area.

TI: And how did the two of them meet?

GA: Well, my father came over to this country about 1907, '06, around there, and he worked for a while and made enough money and... made enough money to go back and ask for a bride. And so he decided to take a trip about 1910, around there, and see if she can find a bride, and went over to, naturally, where he was from, and by then they had go-betweens who would sponsor various people who's eligible to get married, to let them meet and see if they can get along. That's how she, they met.

TI: Okay, good. And your mother's maiden name, do you know what her maiden name was?

GA: Maiden name was Fukui.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.