Frank Kadowaki

Name Frank Jin Kadowaki
Born March 2 1901
Died January 22 1993
Birth Location Shimane, Japan
Generational Identifier


A fine arts painter, conservationist and restorer specializing in Asian antiques, Frank Jin Kadowaki (1901-93) was born in the seaside town of Shimane, Japan, on March 2, 1901. When he was eight years old, his mother left him with relatives and immigrated to the United States, joining his father who was already in California. Kadowaki finally made the voyage to the United States to join his parents in Santa Ana, California, when he was eighteen years old. Although he studied at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, after he got married, he turned to farming to support his family, leasing land from the Irvine Ranch Company.

When World War II began, he and his family were sent to the concentration camp in Poston , Arizona. He continued to paint and teach oil and watercolor workshops to other inmates while incarcerated in Poston, although art supplies were scarce. Kadowaki also worked on a Japanese garden for the camp administration, which allowed the gardeners the freedom to use a truck to leave camp and pick up rocks for the garden composition. After three years at Poston, the Kadowaki family moved to New York to work for a family in Port Jervis. Kadowaki was later hired at the Metropolitan Museum of art to work in Asian art restoration.

After returning to California, Kadowaki and his wife ran the Asian art and antiques store for the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena until his retirement. He died in Los Angeles on January 22, 1993 at age 92.

Authored by Patricia Wakida

For More Information

Gesensway, Deborah and Mindy Rosenman, eds. Beyond Words: Images from America's Concentration Camps. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1987.

The View from Within: Japanese American Art from the Internment Camps, 1942-1945 . Los Angeles: Japanese American National Museum, UCLA Wight Art Gallery, and UCLA Asian American Studies Center, 1992.

Last updated June 19, 2020, 3:39 p.m..