Wearing kimono, George Kikuta and his wife Keiko celebrated George’s 80th birthday with friends, including Tom Iino (right) and his wife Barbara. (Courtesy George Kikuta)

George Kikuta recently celebrated his 80th birthday with a party with family and friends at the Riviera Country Club on May 26.

George and his wife, Keiko, wore kimono with gold trim. Gold is the traditional color for the 80th birthday or sanju.

He was born on March 3, 1942, in Los Angeles and was sent to Manzanar shortly afterwards. At age 4 he moved with his family to Tule Lake and then to Fukushima.

He returned at age 17 to attend Roosevelt High in Boyle Heights, where he met some of his lifelong friends.

Kikuta studied accounting and eventually was asked to join Sho Iino Accounting, the largest Japanese American accounting firm in California at that time. He became one of the early bilingual Japanese American CPAs in the field.

“We had clients such as Nissan, Bridgestone, Suzuki Motors, Mitsubishi and Mitsui trading companies, Mitsubishi Bank and many others,” Kikuta recalled.

“All of the Big 8 accounting firms wanted to acquire Sho Iino’s firm and we had very interesting and exciting meetings with these accounting firms. We finally merged with Deloitte Haskins and Sells, now Deloitte and Touche, and formed a Japanese corporate group to serve our Japanese corporate clients.”

He said his accounting career was highlighted by many interesting cases, including Bridgestone’s acquisition of Firestone Tires and the purchase of the Pebble Beach golf course by a Japanese company.

Kikuta retired from Deloitte when he was 58 and started a consulting practice.

He started tai chi in 2008 at 66 and began to teach. Starting with a couple of students, his class has grown to 60. Now he teaches tai chi at West Los Angeles United Methodist Church and at Venice Japanese Community Center.

“My two wishes are to continue teaching tai chi as long as possible and train my successors,” Kikuta said. “I also want to continue playing golf with my golfing friends and accomplish an age shooting and hole-in-one again.”

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