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Title: Kazumu Naganuma Interview
Narrator: Kazumu Naganuma
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda, Yoko Nishimura
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: September 20, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-482-1

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Today is September 20, 2019, we're in San Francisco at your home, Kazumu Naganuma, and on camera we have Yuka and also interviewing is Yoko. This is Tom Ikeda. To start off with, right before the interview I was just saying, so what name should I use during the interview? And you came up with several names. I thought that would actually be a good start. So first, tell me what was your given name when you were born?

KN: It's Kazumu Julio Cesar Naganuma. Julio Cesar translates to Julius Caesar. I don't know why they didn't just call me Julius instead of Tony, it would have been easier.

TI: Well, so now Tony, where did "Tony" come from?

KN: "Tony" comes from my sister Kiyo that gave us these American names because it was difficult for the teachers and friends to pronounce our names in school, especially from middle school on. I experienced that in the military as well because there was no Tony there, and every time they had a roll call... I went in with my friend, they had roll call, you go through alphabetically, his name is Matsuura, and then my name came next, and there's this long silence because they couldn't pronounce it. That's why "Tony" came in handy, yeah. After a while it got to the point where they just, there's a long silence and everyone knew the name, so I would just say, "Here," and that was the simplest way to get by the roll call.

TI: Well, what was interesting to me is, so you have all these different names that were given to you, but that also carries over to your life today in that different people call you different names. So just briefly tell me, like what do your family members call you, what do people at work call you, on and on, just the differences?

KN: Yeah, my side of the family all refers to me as Tony, and I think that comes from my sister that gave me the "Tony," that's the second oldest sister in the family, and it's just been that way forever. On my wife's side it's all Kaz or Kazumu. The ones that knew me from way back, it's Kazumu. My friends that I grew up with, it's Kaz. And as I said, now my friends at my club are all calling me Julio or Tony. [Laughs] So there's a mixture. Sometimes people don't know if it's the right, or the same person. I get a kick out of it.

TI: I do, too. Because in many ways, when people call you, you kind of know who they are in some ways, or where they come from or where they knew you.

KN: Well, my employee, she's a longtime Japantown person, she knows almost everyone in Japantown. So she knows me by Tony because that's how she met me in the profession, but she knows when she speaks to so-and-so, she says Kaz. So she goes back and forth, switches.

TI: Oh, so she's able to do that switching, she knows...

KN: She's pretty darn good at that, considering all these different people we know.

TI: She'll be really good when she knows when to use Julio, right?

KN: Oh, that'd be funny. That's just recent, like I say, at my club. I'm having fun with it, they're having fun with it, too, because they know now, more so my background.

TI: But for you, when you think of yourself, what name would you use?

KN: I prefer Kaz or Kazumu. It's more so now, today, than ever before, and it really started with the March pilgrimage in particular. That one started to tell me it's important to let people know what my real name is. So when I applied for the U.S. citizenship, my driver's license, my social security card, all that is Kazumu Julio Cesar Naganuma.

TI: So it's like reclaiming your original name.

KN: That's correct. That's who I am, and I'm proud of it. Not that I wasn't proud of it before, but it wasn't of value, if you will. "Tony" was important in the business, it was easy. In our industry, name recognition is important. They have to know your work, but if they say, "Oh, go see Kazumu," they wouldn't even get by Kazumu, and it would never carry on, let alone Naganuma. "Tony" caught on and that's how I was successful in the business, just because everything, almost ninety percent of the work was all referrals. So it helped to have that, Tony in there. Lot easier, should I say. I've had from, when I was in the military or at junior college, my name was pronounced as "Nagima," "Naguma," I got a "McNamara" out of it. [Laughs] I don't know how you get McNamara, but they see the name, it's just overwhelming. People that are Hispanic, easy, you know, Na-ga-nu-ma, it's very easy. So it's interesting, but they stumble. And another part of the name is, the name Naganuma, when you hear it, some people thought it was African, not knowing who I was. There's that "numa," that part, so I got that out of the Naganuma, too.

TI: See, what I sense right now is this taking back of your name, this pride.

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