Kango Takamura

Name Kango Takamura
Born 1895
Died 1990
Birth Location Kumamoto, Japan
Generational Identifier


Kango Takamura (1895-1990) was an Issei artist born in Kumamoto-ken, Japan, in January 1895. He immigrated to the United States when he was seventeen years old and lived in Hawai'i for ten years before he moved to the mainland. He initially moved to New York with an interest in the motion picture industry, where he worked for a short period at the Paramount Studios offices in Long Island before he relocated to Hollywood.

In 1941, he was working as a photo retoucher for RKO Studios in Los Angeles when Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese Imperial Navy. Takamura was arrested and detained by the FBI in 1942 after an incident where he offered to sell a motion-picture camera to a visiting Japanese general, thereby arousing suspicion of his political intent. [1] During World War II, he was incarcerated at an internment camp at Santa Fe , New Mexico, for several months and then moved to the War Relocation Authority camp at Manzanar , California, where he joined his wife, daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter, and remained there until 1945. Since all inmates were forbidden to take photographs in the camps, Takamura depicted his experiences and the surrounding landscapes of Santa Fe and Manzanar in drawings and watercolors. He also worked as a camp sign-maker at Santa Fe and as curator for a small museum at Manzanar.

At the end of the war, he returned to Hollywood and worked at RKO Studios for another twenty-five years before retiring. Takamura lived in Los Angeles until he passed away in January 1990 at age 94.

Authored by Patricia Wakida

For More Information

Finding Aid for the Kango Takamura Paintings, 1942-1945. http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/kt6f59q5mg/ .

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

Higa, Karin M. The View from Within: Japanese American Art from the Internment Camps, 1942-1945. Japanese American National Museum, 1992.


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

Last updated June 19, 2020, 3:40 p.m..