Getting an English Name

Growing up "American" Losing his sister in camp Getting an English Name Introduction to Film Seagulls Leaving Tule Lake Getting Started in Animation First Short Film Teaching English in Japan Animations for the Government The Red Baron Paintings reflecting on camp Reparations

Transcripts available in the following languages:

Yeah I mean uh I was...they couldn't... My name was Teruaki and they couldn't pronounce my name, the..the American teacher, you know?  And she said "Terry" "Truey" "Terry..ah" "Terry-eiki" and I says no it's "Te-ru-a-ki."  "Teru - Teruaki."  "Nope. You have to get an American name," you know.  And it went around through all these schools that there are no Japanese names used.  They...they have to have an American name, you know.  Or, or an English name.  So, my brother was on the other side of this camp in a school.  I mean, it's all in an area -- school.  Because he was two years above me.  He...he had the same thing. 

So I...I chose Jimmy because... some comic book character I ran into, you know.  And my brother chose James because he decided by feeling it was a good name.  So we went back at home and still known as Teru and Jun.  And uh so I never, we never, went by our American name.   All the way through camp, coming out of camp, then even in grammar school I was in a different school in sixth grade, my brother was in high school and he was using James and I was using Jimmy. 

You know the only time I found out...when we moved to high school and I was called before...cause I was fighting then I was kicking in doors and everything.  So I was called to the principal's office quite often.  And one time my brother was there and, and he was called James.  "Would Jimmy come to the principal's office."  And then we both stood up and I asked him what he was doing and he didn't know.   And then I realized...then I heard that he had kind of the same name but we were so ignorant that James and Jimmy are two different sounds.  But we never related it together.  Then I, then I said wait a minute maybe that is the same name, you know.  And my mother and father didn't know.  Even if we did, even if we did find out they would think that's a different name.  That could be John and Jimmy, you know?  Whatever, you know, so basically we kept it, you know, because I never thought I was gonna...I wanted to go back to Japan anyway.  So I thought, you know, Jimmy's gonna be gone when I go for living in Japan.

Date: June 29, 2012
Location: California, US
Interviewer: Chris Komai, John Esaki
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

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