Jack Iwata


Name Jack Iwata
Born October 4 1912
Died June 13 1992
Birth Location Seattle
Generational Identifier

Photographer who chronicled the run-up to incarceration and life at the Manzanar and Tule Lake concentration camps. Jack Iwata (1912–92) was born in Seattle but largely raised in Hiroshima, where he first learned about photography. He returned to the U.S. in 1928 and eventually graduated from Whittier College. In 1937, he took a job with famed Los Angeles photographer Toyo Miyatake, rising to become his head photographer. In addition to weddings and portraits, he also photographed Japanese American community events for the Rafu Shimpo newspaper.

With the outbreak of World War II, he documented the subsequent incarceration of Japanese Americans at Manzanar, where he continued to work with Miyatake, joining with him to open a photo lab. He later moved on to Tule Lake to join his father, who was in ill health, and also took pictures there. After the the war, he returned to work with Miyatake, but struck out on his own briefly, before joining Kyodo News Service, a Japan-based wire service, in the late 1940s. He would remain with Kyodo for the rest of his career, spanning over forty years. He became well-known in Japan for his photographs of and reporting on Japanese and American celebrities and also documented U.S.–Japan relations. An exhibition featuring his work titled One More Shot: Jack Iwata Documenting Changing U.S.–Japan Relations opened at the Japanese American National Museum, where many of his photographs are archived, a year after his death.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information[edit]

Gatewood, James. V. "Iwata, Jack Masaki." In Encyclopedia of Japanese American History: An A-to-Z Reference from 1868 to the Present, Revised Edition. Edited by Brian Niiya. New York: Checkmark Books, 2001. 217–18.

Guide to the Jack Iwata Collection, 1942–1945, Japanese American National Museum, http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf9489p05h/entire_text/.

"Iwata, Jack." In Asian American Art History, 1850–1970. Edited by Gordon H. Chang, Mark Johnson, and Paul Karlstrom. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2008. 341–42.

Jack Iwata Collection, Japanese American National Museum, http://www.janm.org/collections/jack-iwata-collection/. [Includes digital images of 166 photographs Iwata took, documenting the lead up to incarceration and life at Manzanar and Tule Lake.]