Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Gary M. Itano Interview
Narrator: Gary M. Itano
Interviewer: Linda Tamura
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: August 21, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-479-1

<Begin Segment 1>

LT: Today is August 21, 2019. We're in Los Angeles interviewing Gary Itano, with videographer Evan Kodani, and I am Linda Tamura. What is your full name?

GI: My full name is Gary Masataka Itano.

LT: And your date of birth?

GI: I was born on April 3, 1949.

LT: Where were you born?

GI: I was born in East Los Angeles.

LT: And your home now?

GI: And my home now is Newport Beach, California.

LT: Let's begin in Japan with your family origins. Your grandfather, do you know his name?

GI: I do not know my grandfather's name.

LT: Where did your grandfather live?

GI: The Itanos were from Okayama Prefecture, Okayama-ken, and Soja-shi, so the town of Soja, and a little village called Hara. But they were originally from the island of Shimonoseki, which is the Inland Sea, and there's an Itano city there.

LT: What was your grandfather's occupation?


GI: Okay, grandfather's occupation was basically a country gentleman. He was a descendant from a long line of samurai, and basically they earned their keep by keeping the order. They were basically the police with the ultimate authority of extrajudicial decisions. They could do anything they wanted at any time to do whatever they felt needed to be done to keep the peace or keep order, and they did for hundreds of years. So at the end... and shall I go into this part? So by the turn of the century, the Itanos had lost, or the samurai had lost their powers, they didn't this sort of thing anymore, there was a regular Western-style police and all that sort of thing. But he still had to, being of the nobility, he still had to, in my mother's terms, dress up like Abraham Lincoln every day with the top hat, and that sort of thing. And wherever he went, the people would have to bow down very low and not look up, because if they didn't do that, in the distant past, they could have their heads lopped off. I don't know if our family did that sort of thing, but that's what was done. So he felt this wasn't him, and so he saw America as this new world and this great new adventure, and the Constitution and all those principles. So he decided to go to America with his new wife, and as my mother would tell this story to me, they traveled all over the United States in every kind of transport, from stage coaches to buckboards to horses to trains, whatever, and they stayed long enough to have three sons. And my father, the first, was born in San Pedro in 1917, November 17th is when my father was born. And then his brother Toshimasa -- well, I don't know the order, I know that one brother was born in Idaho and another brother, Mitsuteru was, he was born in either that or Missouri. So they traveled around long enough to have kids. And then they came back to Japan and they bore two daughters, and then after, I guess, they put their kids through traditional school, my grandfather decided to return and bring only his eldest son to America, and I'm thinking presumably to have Henry Masami, his eldest son, be the representative of the Itano clan in this new country.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.