Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Jack Y. Kunitomi Interview I
Narrator: Jack Y. Kunitomi
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: July 19, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-kyoshisuke-03-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

MN: Today is Wednesday, July 20, 2011. We are at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Los Angeles. We will be interviewing Yoshisuke Jack Kunitomi. Tani Ikeda is on the video camera, and I will be interviewing, my name is Martha Nakagawa. And Jack, I wanted to start with your father's name. What was his name?

JK: Gonhichi. And you know, he tried to change his name because, according to the characters, something about "luck," "changing luck." And I don't know, so he finally changed to Gonji. I don't know why, but that's one story.

MN: But Gonhichi is "seven," right? Wouldn't seven be a lucky number?

JK: Well, I guess, yeah. Not in Japan, I don't think.

MN: What about your mother's name?

JK: Well, all we knew was she was Komika.

MN: Now, wasn't her maiden name Kunitomi also?

JK: That's what I understand. I don't know if they were related or what.

MN: Okay. Now, what prefecture were your parents from?

JK: They were from Okayama, and it was a very small town, just one short station away from Okayama city.

MN: Now, when your father first came overseas, where did he land?

JK: Well, he was with a gang of young men working in Hawaii. So I guess after the season's work in Hawaii, they had nothing to do but explore America, I guess.

MN: So from Hawaii he came to Los Angeles?

JK: Yes.

MN: Did he go through the Port of L.A. or San Francisco or Seattle?

JK: I think they came through (San Francisco).

MN: And then a few years after this, your mother came over and joined your father?

JK: She came as a war bride.

MN: War bride or picture bride?

JK: I'm sorry, as a, well, photographer's...

MN: Shashin miai. Picture bride.


MN: So, Jack, do you know if your mother came through San Francisco, Angel Island?

JK: Yes. We have a picture of her as a bride, picture bride. And I don't know how they ever got together.

MN: I'm gonna go down the list of your brothers and sisters, and you tell me if I'm correct, okay? First born is Koichi.

JK: Koichi.

MN: Also known as Frank or Koya. Then Chiyoko, then you, Yoshisuke, then Kinya, also known as Kimbo, then Hideo, he also went by Alan. Sueko, Sue, Midori, and Tetsuo. Did I get everybody?

JK: Right.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.