FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: Are you my cousin? (Part one)


Understanding relationships is an important part of every family history journey. However, understanding relationship terminology can get a bit confusing. Half, first, removed, great, grand, step, foster, adoptive, genetic and fictive. These are just a smattering of kinship terms used in genealogy. 

Let’s start with “cousin.” First cousins share a set of grandparents. In other words, the children of your parent’s siblings are your “first cousins.” Adding “second” or “third” cousin, or “once removed” to the description relates to generational differences. A numerical cousin (first, second, third…) shares the same generation with you; you both are the same number of generations away from an ancestral couple. If first cousins share a set of grandparents, then second cousins share a set of great grandparents, third cousins share a set of great-great grandparents, and so on.

From the chart above, you can see that Ichimaru and Hamako are:

The parents of Terumi and Masashi

The grandparents of Naoyuki and Kenzo

The great grandparents of Akira and Namita

The great-great grandparents of Michiko and Yoko

In terms of cousin relationships, you can see that:

Naoyuki and Kenzo are first cousins (1C); their parents are siblings 

Their children, Akira and Namita, are second cousins (2C) 

The children of Akira and Namita are Michiko and Yoko; they are third cousins (3C)

When cousinhood appears on different generational lines, the term “removed” is used. The child of your first cousin is a first cousin “once removed,” meaning one generation away from the relationship:

Naoyuki and Kenzo are first cousins, therefore the child of Kenzo (Namita) is Naoyuki’s first cousin once removed (1C1R)

Naoyuki and Kenzo are first cousins, therefore the grandchild of Kenzo (Yoko) is Naoyuki’s first cousin twice removed (1C2R) 

To test your understanding, try

to answer the following questions:

What is the relationship between Michiko and Kenzo? 

What is the relationship between Akira and Yoko? 

Trick question …What is the relationship between Terumi and Namita? (Answers will be provided in the next column.)

There are numerous free and downloadable cousin charts available online. The FamilySearch Blog ( has an easy-to-understand chart. For those of you interested in DNA, Legacy Tree Genealogists has a reference chart with predicted shared centimorgan ranges ( 

In the next column, we will look at other familial relationships and terminology. If you have questions about labeling relationships in your family tree, be sure to send an e-mail to and put “Ask a Genealogist” in the subject heading. 

Linda Harms Okazaki is a professional genealogist who is past president of the California Genealogical Society. She specializes in Japanese American records. If you have a genealogical question which might be answered in this column, send an e-mail to The views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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