Remembering Geography Professor Emeritus George Hiroaki Kakiuchi

Submitted by Nell Gross on

Born August 9, 1924, to Jitsuo and Kano Kakiuchi, George would have celebrated his 98th birthday this month. George was raised in Lincoln, California, on the family plum farm where he learned the value of hard work and his love of gardening.

As a high school senior in 1942, he was unjustly incarcerated with his family, as were thousands of other Japanese Americans, at Tule Lake concentration camp, later moving to Minidoka. Upon his release, he served in the Military Intelligence Service, for which he received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2012. Always the optimist, he would say that at least he got an education through the GI Bill, while hoping that dark period of history would never repeat itself.

He first attended Park College and then transferred to the University of Michigan where he earned his Master's and Ph.D. in Geography in 1957. It was there he met and married Noriko Osawa in 1952. He went on to teach at the University of Washington, while also spending one year as a Fulbright lecturer at Tokyo University. After Noriko passed away, he met Kayoko Fukeda at the UW and they married in 1985. He retired as Professor Emeritus in 1990 after 32 years.

George's research focused on Japanese agricultural practices and population migration. Over the years, George hosted dozens of professors from Japan. In honor of his efforts to nurture their careers and build relationships between the two countries, he was awarded The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, from the Emperor of Japan in May 2002.

The Seattle Times