Kinichi Nakanishi

Name Kinichi Nakanishi
Born March 2 1892
Died September 23 1964
Birth Location Tokyo, Japan
Generational Identifier


Kinichi Nakanishi (1892-1964) was an Issei impressionist-style painter and photographer, best known for his landscapes and portraits, who exhibited widely in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco throughout the 1920s.

He was born on March 2, 1892, in Tokyo, Japan, to Mitsu (Hayakawa) and Tojiro Nakanishi. After graduating from horticultural college, he immigrated to the United States on the S.S. Shinyo Maru , arriving in San Francisco, California, on August 11, 1914, then continued on to Los Angeles. [1] In 1917, while working as a collector for the Los Angeles Sun , he began his art studies with established landscape artists Dana Bartlett, Henry W. Cannon, and watercolorist Jack Wilkinson Smith. [2]

Nakanishi was an early member of the Art Students League of Los Angeles, which counted many Japanese American students among its members, such as Hisashi Shimada, Iwakichi Shigematsu, Betty Matsumoto, Bob Kuwahara , Hideo Date , Charles Morimoto , Gompers Saijo, and Benji Okubo . One of the first shows that included his work was the 11th Annual Gold Medal Juried Exhibition, held at the Museum of History, Science and Art at Exposition Park in Los Angeles in 1920. The show was curated by the California Art Club, of which he was a member. [3] That same year, two of his paintings, "Five P.M." and "Poetry of the Trees" were chosen for inclusion in the California Art Club exhibition at the San Diego Gallery of Fine Arts. In 1922, his piece, "Bathers" was reproduced in the East West Art Society of San Francisco's second exhibition catalog, which included artists George Matsusaburo Hibi , Teikichi Hikoyama, Chee Chin S. Cheung Lee, Spencer Macky, Kazuo Matsubara, Perham Nahl, Chiura Obata , and Tokio Ueyama along with Nakanishi. Nakanishi's last known exhibition was in 1923, with the Group of Independent Artists in Los Angeles. [4]

The 1930 census shows thirty-seven year old Nakanishi lodging at 227 San Pedro St. in Los Angeles and lists his occupation as art store salesman. Also lodging in the same building was a Terasu Tanaka, who listed himself as a photographer and art store salesman, and it is likely that the two men both worked at Iwata Art Store in Little Tokyo. [5] He married his first wife, Issei Aiko Sato on July 9, 1933, at the Higashi Hongwanji Buddhist temple in Los Angeles, but on December 29, 1933, was granted a divorce. [6] Two years later, on September 23, 1935 he married Chiyo Machikawa in Orange, California, a second marriage for both. On his marriage license to Machikawa, she listed her occupation as "insurance" and he listed his as "photographer."

In 1942, he and Chiyo were sent to the Santa Anita detention center in Arcadia, California, and then to the Jerome concentration camp in Arkansas, where he taught at the camp's art school and exhibited work. In camp records, he is listed as a skilled photographic processor. An article in the Denson Tribune camp newsletter from August 13, 1943 reported that an exhibition presented by the high school art department at 23-1-C and D was mounted, prepared by instructors Eizo Nakagawa, Jentaro Shimo, and Kinichi Nakanishi. [7] When the Jerome camp closed in June 1944, the couple were transferred to the concentration camp at [[Amache (Granada)|Granada (Amache)], Colorado. The couple finally left the camps permanently in 1945—she listed her destination as Los Angeles and date of departure as August 27, 1945, and he listed his as New York and left on May 23, 1945. It is unknown how long he remained in New York, or if he pursued any artistic opportunities there.

Eventually, Nakanishi and his wife were reunited in Los Angeles and decided to change their last name to Machikawa (her maiden name). On November 11, 1954, he became a naturalized U.S. citizen under the name Kinichi Machikawa, with records indicating that he was living at 2520 E. 2nd Street, Los Angeles. He died in Los Angeles on September 23, 1964. There is no evidence that he resumed his artistic career post-war.

Authored by Patricia Wakida

For More Information

Chang, Gordon H., Mark Dean Johnson, and Paul J. Karlstrom, editors. Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970 . Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2008.

Hughes, Edan Milton. Artists in California, 1786-1940 . San Francisco: Hughes Publishing Company, 1989.


  1. Gordon H. Chang, Mark Dean Johnson, and Paul J. Karlstrom, eds., Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970 (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2008), 392.
  2. Yoshiki-Kovinick, Marian, Will South, and Julia Armstrong-Totten, A Seed of Modernism: The Art Students League of Los Angeles, 1906-1953 (Berkeley, Calif.: Heyday Books, 2008), 115.
  3. Chang, et al., Asian American Art , 392.
  4. Chang, et al., Asian American Art , 392.
  5. United States Census 1930, Los Angeles (Districts 0501-0750), 32.
  6. "Aiko Sato Marries Kinichi Nakanishi," Rafu Shimpo , July 10, 1933.
  7. "Night School Art Show Set," Denson Tribune , Aug. 13, 1943, 4

Last updated July 27, 2022, 2:35 p.m..